Saturday, August 28, 2010

Meet the Family

Living with a host family is one of the best ways of immersing myself in Korean culture while I’m here, and I’m really excited about my own host family.  I’ve been living with the Lim family for a little over a week now, and I couldn’t have been placed with a more ideal family!
Spending a rainy Sunday afternoon with my host family at Daechong Dam

I think my host mom is the coolest Korean woman I’ve met.  My host mom is a fourth grade homeroom teacher at my elementary school, so she’s been really helpful giving me the scoop on school dynamics and introducing me to her group of friends who also teach.  She and I both swear that we must have met during some other lifetime because we are very similar in personality and interests.  We both like to eat, drink, and live fully.  She’s very outgoing and sociable, so I’ve felt welcome in her home this entire time.  We both sleep when we’re stressed and are much quieter at home than in public.  She’s very athletic and goes swimming at 5:30 am three times a week.  In fact, the entire family does this together, and I managed to roll out of bed once this week to tag along.  During college, she told me that she hiked up to the peaks of all of Korea’s mountains.  Art is another one of her passions, and her watercolor paintings are hanging in the apartment.  Half of the bowls we eat out of were made by my mom, and she’s going to help me register for ceramics courses.  To top it off, her name is 은정 (Eun-jeong), while my Korean name is 정은 (Jeong-eun). 

There are three more members in my host family, starting with my host dad.  My host dad has a masters in chemical engineering, but in recent years, he’s been operating his own real estate business.  He is so devoted to his children and wife, and he also helps out a lot at home.  He cooks breakfasts, washes the dishes, and cleans around the house! I didn’t grow up with a father who did these things, so I’m still getting used to it.  We practice English together during meal times, but one would hear more Konglish than anything else.

My host siblings have chosen English names for themselves, though I generally call them by their given Korean names.  Harry or Min-hyeok (민혁) is a 7th grader who is quite studious and loves to play soccer and swim, which is pretty typical of many Korean boys.  He’s extremely sweet and slightly protective of me.  When I went on a walk one evening, my host mom told me that he was pacing around the apartment worried that I’d get lost. My host sister’s name is Che-yoon (채윤) or Marry, and this cutie is in the 4th grade.  I keep telling her that she should change her name to Mary, but she wants to emulate her older brother, so I think that second “r” is here to stay.  She’s pretty shy and her English is not as good as her brother’s, so she generally will pop by my room several times a day to see what I’m up to.  She’ll smile a lot without saying much.  She’s been opening up a lot more, and we even watched Kung Fu Panda together recently.

While it’s nice to come home to a family, it’s strange to be living under somebody’s roof again and abiding by my host parents’ wishes.  For the past four years in college, I’ve come and gone as I pleased without any attention to curfews or family meal times.   I’m still figuring out the appropriate time to be coming home at night and just how much time I’m expected to spend with the family.  In this respect, I feel like I’m back in high school. 

1 comment:

  1. im struggling with that too clara shi.. when is the right time to come home? Am i setting a bad example for my youngest host siblings? and it goes on and on..yes sure, use my nunchie but i keep second guessing it