Thursday, August 29, 2013

I'm back, did you miss me of cooooouuuurse!

Today's music is some old-time Korean music, an artist who reminds me a little of Simon and Garfunkel. 바람이 불어오는 곳 (The Place Where The Wind Blows) by Kim Kwang Seok.

It's really been a while, eh? I wasn't about to try my less than average touch screen skills at writing a blog posts on my ipod, so no news for a couple weeks.

So here is part one, beginning with August 15, Korean Independence Day.

My host family invited me to go with them to a family function with my host father's side of the family. I was a little hesitant at first because I could foresee it possibly being awkward, meeting a lot of new people and not being able to speak Korean.  But, on the other hand, I could also see it being really fun, and so I decided to go. We headed out early in the morning, everyone piling into the car, even Choco the poodle. My thought that it would be quite a crazy ride, going so far with two kids and a dog, but since it was so early, the kids fell asleep and without kids to egg him on, Choco was calm too. Well, all except for  barking at every toll booth operator. We drove for around 2.5 hours towards the west coast.

I just listened to the Studio Ghibli concert I had downloaded for basically the entire ride. It's hard to explain what that music does to the scenery. Somehow it makes everything a little more magical. I was feeling pretty drowsy by the time we got there and wasn't sure I would be able to concentrate well enough to understand any Korean, but it was fine! The family was very friendly and some of them were very good at English too. During the course of the afternoon, they even brought out a cousin on Facetime who had just graduated from University of Buffalo and was in the States so that I could say hi and congratulate him. It was pretty hilarious, because as soon as they passed the phone back to his sister they grilled him on what he thought of me and whether I was pretty or not in Korean. Following that my host father asked what I thought of international marriage. Real subtle there bud. The matchmaking never stops here.

After the rest of the family arrived, the BBQ started--ribs that were out of this world good, shrimp and some shellfish that I passed on. I'm still not a big fan of shellfish...they just taste like mud and are kind of gritty, or at least the ones I've had here are like that. The cousins all played together in a pretty big blow up kiddie pools and had some intense water battles. It was funny to least until in the hullaballoo the hose was pointed in our direction!

The adults sat around talking for a while, and my host father spoke for a long time about what he's learning about anabaptism and his vision for creating a community living place seemed like a really long time for just him to be talking, but I found out later that it was the first time they'd met in a while and his family doesn't really understand why he's so interested in this weird anabaptist thing. Basically anything other than Presbyterianism here in the protestant circle is looked at as a little weird at best and heretical at worst. So, it was a chance for him to catch them up and get their support.

After we ate, we all rested for a bit, and some people even took naps on the floor of the air conditioned office (the whole shindig was at my host father's uncles' plastics factory), including yours truly. The real kicker was the singing contest after napst: I was one of the judges, surprise! I wasn't really given the option, I was just told that was going to be my role, so I tried not to be too awkward about it. HA. I was supposed to rate the acts and say which ones were best. The kids were most involved...about three renditions of the Larva dance were performed, as well as Gangnam Style, but even the old great uncle sang a song while one of the aunts did some pretty fantastic backup dancing. One of the younger neices was also a really good dancer, all though she was pretty shy and only did some sweet popping to some Black Eyed Peas for like ten seconds. My host father tried to get me to sing a song in a Korean, but I got out of that pretty quick by claiming not to know any songs. Which wasn't a lie, I know lots of songs, but not really any more than a line or two of the lyrics, so didn't have to do that. They gave me a gift for my efforts though, which was so sweet and kind of funny: a little hand mirror with a pretty design on it and a serving tray from Lotte Mart. Actually pretty useful.

We ended the day with dinner at a Chinese-Korean restuarant eating some Jjambbong, which was pretty delish. I also got invited to see Namsan with one of my host father's younger cousins, so maybe sometime she'll contact me about that.

It's kind of hard to believe that my homestay time is almost up--I'm moving on Sunday. I've gotten to have some many "real Korea" experiences like this outside of Connexus, which has been really special and I know will be some good memories to keep. I'm sorry to see it end, but also glad to finally really be a part of the Connexus community life. I feel like this homestay has given me so much knowledge about how to feel at home in a strange place, and how to relate interculturally too. The bottom line is, both sides have to compromise, but we're not that different in the end.

Thanks for reading, next part soon to come!

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