Tuesday, January 20, 2009

First few steps in Korea

I've been in Korea for 6 days now. The majority of my time has been spent with my mom's side of the family. Grandparents, a lot of aunts, and what seems like a lot of cousins but I guess it's only because I've been constantly surrounded by two 3 year olds and one 5 year old who cry, and talk, a lot. They surprisingly like me a lot and are apparently asking my whereabouts if I am not in their vicinity! That never happens with me and little kids haha. Apart from those 3 youngsters, there are two older boys (almost high school and middle school) whom I can actually hold conversations with and often times find myself watching basketball on Korean ESPN discussing different players. (My boyfriend would be proud!)

I haven't started tutoring English or interning yet as the Lunar New Year is approaching on the 26th. It's a big holiday here in Korea and Asia and the roads and department stores are packed with cars and people shopping for gifts to bring to their relatives. Everyone is eagerly awaiting the long weekend that is to come.

As for my current living situation, I'm residing in Suwon, a city just outside of Seoul, at my grandparents' condo. Suwon is where my mom was born and grew up - but the large courtyard house with dozens of rose bushes and green lawn she always told me about is nowhere to be found in Suwon or Seoul these days. Everyone lives in high-rise condos/apartments and stores with neon signs are busily packed into small blocks.

My grandparents' condo is very spacious (almost too spacious for just the 2 of them) with 4 rooms. I think they're glad that they have another person walking around and making the place a little more lived in. :)

My room, The living room at my grandparents' place

My favorite day in Korea was this past Sunday when I went to church with my grandparents. I went to the church my mom used to go to since she was a little girl and also where she was an accompanist for the church choir for 10 years since middle school. Eventually my parents got married in the same church. The last time a lot of the older church members had seen me and my parents was when I was 3 months old and when my parents were about 24 years old. (Right before we moved to Chicago.) Everyone couldn't believe how much I had grown, including this man below:

The doctor who delivered me on July 2nd, 1988! He said I was one of the first babies he delivered. :)

They rebuilt the church in a new location, but I could feel the magic of being surrounded by people who witnessed my parents get married a little over two decades ago.

Today I got measured and chose fabrics for my very first bespoke hanbok. (No more borrowing Mom's!) It was an interesting experience but I'll write about it once I actually pick up the hanbok.