Sunday, February 28, 2010

Our Neighborhood: Sillim

This is our new neighborhood, just a slight change from our spot on the hill in Portland, OR. There are more bars and places to eat than I can count. Plus there is a grocery store around the corner, a sauna in the basement of our building, a billiards room on the second floor and multiple carts scattered around the street selling delicious snacks.

Visiting a Korean Cemetery

Kwang took me to the cemetery where his grandfather is buried. The cemetery was beautiful and covered half the hillside. We got on our knees and bowed twice in respect to his grandfather. Korean culture uses coffins which are buried below the surface of the ground. However, a mound of earth is placed on top to serve as a marker to the grave and a sign of respect to the deceased. All of the graves had brightly colored fabric flowers aligning them. Many of the graves had bottles of soju and plates of food placed at the foot of the grave for the deceased. It was pretty incredible.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What do you Bring to a Housewarming Party in Korea?

In the US I might bring a plant or maybe a loaf of homemade bread to a housewarming party. In Korea you bring toilet paper! I love it. Oh and Kwang tells me it's not just toilet paper, but very high quality toilet paper at least compared to the US. We're watching speed skating right now so he is in ultra competitive nationalist mode. Anyway I thought that this was just another interesting culture difference.

Kwang's Family

I have to admit I was a little nervous meeting Kwang's family. Both his parents do not speak English and my Korean is minimal. They are very sweet people who immediately made me feel at home. At one point Kwang's mother and I were left alone and she just took my hand spoke to me as if I knew what she was saying. I just nodded my head and smiled. It was pretty funny. Later in the week she called us up and asked why I haven't called her yet. Just more motivation to learn Korean!

Kwang's father asked me if I thought Kwang looked like either of his parents. I said I thought I could see his father through his eyes. He father responded, " that's because I'm so handsome". I had to chuckle because that is just what Kwang would have said.

Welcome to South Korea

I'm finally here! After months of packing, saying goodbye, and traveling across the states, my home is now in Seoul. It's been a week since I've arrived and so much excitement has happened already.

I arrived at 4:40am last Saturday. I'm expecting one of those moments when I breach the welcome arrival gates and there is Kwang waiting with maybe even one of those cheesy signs. But, alas no that's not the case. I wait around with my cart of luggage for about 30mins seeing all of these people reunite with others around me. There's hope though. I hear this message over the intercom, something about a Jennie arriving from New York. However, I can't really comprehend where it's telling me to go. Finally through the crowd I see Kwang looking frantically. There he his, the man who has made me a very lucky lady.

We take the bus to Kwang's brother's house. His brother's name is Changwoo, though I later find out in Malaysia his English name was Brian. I'm sticking with Changwoo. Kwang and I drop off our things and then take the bullet train to Jinhae to visit Kwang's parents. We arrive around 9:00pm and I'm sure to tell Kwang that our next trip to the US will certainly be payback for this round of extreme jetlag.