Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Second Homestay

It's that time of month again!

No.. not that time of month. Stay with me, please.

It's time to visit my mentor teacher's home again! After all, I agreed to come stay with her one weekend a month, and visit her church and the new friends I've made there. That weekend is this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes. Oh, but honestly, I'm a bit nervous about staying the entire weekend. It was easier to agree to the first time, but I wonder if there will be a lot of boring, awkward moments where they try to entertain me and I try to think of new conversations to start. I'm really not a big talker. I like to observe and listen. I also hope they won't feel bothered by the language barrier.  Oh, and food. I should probably not eat anything after dinner tonight. Last time, I was expected to eat WAY too much food. :)

Last weekend, I participated in a different kind of homestay. It wasn't officially a homestay; I was invited to stay at my friends house for the weekend. This friend is a Korean TaLK scholar (Korean co-teacher) whom I met at the second orienation. We were roommates during that time, and she was really eager to get to know me. It made me feel good because I now have someone to comfortably ask questions about Korea (and it's language). She lived in the U.S. as an exchange student for a short while, so her English is really good and it's easy to ask her questions that have to do with comparing the U.S. to Korea and vice versa. Also, she's just a really cool person, and my collection of Korean friends is dismally low.

I (and a friend) went to her town by train. She lives in Chungju so it's another plus to have a Korean friend live so close by! She met us at the train station and proceeded to share her family, town, food, and customs with us. There was a cherry blossom festival going on that weekend. It was complete with fireworks, food stalls, singing, and a small-town parade. Oh, let's not forget the cherry blossoms! The trees lined the river and towered above the stalls, lit up by colored lights. One of the highlights of the night involved many of the town's elementary school kids. They all recognized her and called for her attention like she was a celebrity. Oh, and she's walking around with two foreigners?! We must talk to her! They all wanted to know where my friend and I were from. It was automatically assumed that she was from the U.S. and I was from Africa. In fact, they were mindblown at hearing that she was from New Zealand and I was from the U.S. I try to let this go every time it happens. It'd take much to much time and Korean language skill to explain the reason why a person of my skin color can come from the U.S.

Apart from the festival, my Korean friend's house is amazing! As she described it, it's actually half-traditionally, half-modernly designed. The traditional side was so amazing, especially because the doors looked like secret doors. Ididn't notice them at first because they were covered by the same material as the wall, but when she pulled on the handle (which I also didn't notice), part of the wall came away and I realized the door had been there all along. A secret door! Many of them, actually! The child in me was thrilled, especially at having to bend down a bit to walk through it, like a secret cubby hole or passage way. I was thankful for the modern side of the house though because the toilet was not the kind that you squat over.  Well, this house had one of each.

The last day (Saturday) proved just as fun as the first. Despite the constant stream of rain, my friend took us to a high point in her neighborhood where a .. hmm... I'll call it a gazebo... a very colorful gazebo sat. It rested safely under many pine trees, so we got to enjoy the view without worrying too much about the rain. Because of the rain, my friend's original day plan for us was cancelled. Instead, we stayed inside watching English movies and making snacks to eat. In the late afternoon, we headed back into town for a late lunch that must have included 5 or 6 courses. Really, that lady server just kept bringing main dishes as soon as we finished one. I'm still not quite sure how much we ate that afternoon. The other two claimed to be on a diet....  It all worked out though because after the grand meal we walked through the festival grounds and up a tall hill to visit a really small aquarium and stuffed animal museum. (By stuffed animal, think of Cabella's .. or that Great Outdoors store in Texas with the polar bear, elephant, and ground hog display ... to name a few).

Before catching the bus back to the train station, my Korean friend's mom ran up to us and delivered a bag of corn from one of the food stalls. It's moments like these, and really the whole weekend experience, that I understand what being in Korea is all about.

'Til next time,


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