June 6, 2009 § 2 Comments
It’s nice when family really begins to feel like family.
After sleeping four hours, I got up, finished my blog post, checked my e-mail, took a shower, and got ready to go out. I was hoping to meet up with some of my swing friends from yesterday but there wasn’t enough time between lunch with my brother (we ordered Papa Johns) and going to meet my cousin for dinner. After briefly seeing my brother’s girlfriend and friend, we headed off to my aunt’s house to meet our respective parties for dinner. My brother originally wanted to meet with my mom alone and take her out individually but when he realized my Big Aunt would otherwise be at home alone, he extended the invitation and the three of them went to go eat a traditional Korean dinner at some fancy restaurant. I met up with my cousin, Jungwoo oppa, to eat at a sushi place he used to go to during his college days. I was supposed to meet a friend of his but she was unable to come out so I was a little disappointed but still happy that I could spend some more time with my cousin.
Today was the first time I really felt like I had another older brother that cared about me and was part of my family. No offense to my older boy cousin on my dad’s side but I never felt like he really cared. I know he doesn’t hate me or anything but he is not the most enthusiastic about family and even though we went to Berkeley together for two years, we only met up once. He was never mean to me but at the same time, didn’t see me as a younger sister to advise and protect. It was more like “that girl whose dad is my dad’s brother.”
At dinner, I was so tired and my eyes hurt to blink because they were so dry but it was still a really fun night. Up until tonight, Jungwoo oppa and I hadn’t really talked that much on our own. All our conversations were with adults or very brief phone or text messages. We didn’t know very much about each other’s personal lives or aspirations, which I feel is reasonable for two cousins, in an extended family of 56 (yes, I counted), an age gap of ten years, and halfway across the world. Therefore, I feel like tonight was very productive. I didn’t end up meeting with my swing friends (I was way too tired to go out dancing again) but it was nice to stay in and hang out with Jungwoo oppa and chat with my mom, brother, and aunt after we all came back.
It’s really interesting comparing my extended family and Allan’s. I remember how pleasantly surprised I was when I found out how close Allan’s extended family was and how connected they were to one another. It was a revelation and I wanted that for my own family. I forget who I was talking to but I remember someone saying that staying connected to your extended family is a lot easier when you have more resources. It’s so true that you don’t have time to go on family vacations or cruises when you are barely surviving and have to work all the time to make ends meet. Honestly, who doesn’t want to have fun and play? However, it’s not only a money issue but also cultural. I feel like in Korean culture, family is family and it is an expectation that regardless how well you know a relative, you will receive them with as much warmth and respect that you would show to a relative you see every day. Koreans also aren’t into big displays of emotions, and are somewhat more spartan. Family reunions are also a pretty Western concept and not something many Korean families do. However, these are gross generalizations and just my immediate thoughts.
After having dinner and hanging out with him, I really like Jungwoo oppa. He is so kind and understanding and best of all, open minded. If I do or say something weird because of cultural differences, he doesn’t take it personally and tries to understand and see it from my point of view. I feel a little awkward writing this because he might see this but its the truth and its not mean so… omg I can’t think of the English word… 안심돼. Wow, that’s bad.
Okay, let’s pretend that didn’t happen. Anyway, Jungwoo oppa and I had some pretty funny/random moments during and after dinner. Here are the highlights:
- We were taking pictures and he asked if I was going to put them on a website or blog when I told him that I already had one. Of course he wanted to see it, especially when I go to the other countries, but I said no because of the earlier post I wrote about meeting him for the first time. He immediately sensed something was wrong and asked me why until I finally confessed everything. I told him about how I didn’t really remember him and how I expected him to look like Song Seung Hun and was a little disappointed that he didn’t look like a celebrity. lol. He didn’t seem TOO offended and laughed it off. It was funny because later he said that he had also heard so much about me before he saw me again and how I had grown up to be such a good, pretty girl and that when he saw me….. what he heard was right (read on). I’m pretty sure he was going to say that he was disappointed too and had high expectations that weren’t fulfilled but then didn’t want to be mean and so ended it like that instead. LOL. He seriously is so nice though and treats me like a younger sister.
- We got ice cream after dinner and apparently he goes so rarely that he didn’t know that you could get ice cream in a cup. I got one in a cone and he just followed suit. Later when I saw that he hadn’t touched his cone and only ate the ice cream off the top, I inquired about it only to hear that he hates cones. lol. I asked him why he didn’t get a cup and he seemed genuinely surprised that there was such an option.
- Jungwoo oppa and I did a lot of language/phrase exchange tonight. I asked him to correct my Korean pronunciation or phrasing if I said something strange and he asked me to do the same for him in English. Later that night there were a few moments where he would phrase something strangely in English, I would follow the directions, think about it, look up, and see him looking back with a, “yeah.. I know that was weird” look. Later when I told him the correct phrasing he said, “I knew it was weird even as I was saying it.” Hehehe.
- Jungwoo oppa made fun of me to his friend! From his words he was “bragging” that my Korean was good for someone born in America as he was imitating my gringo accent to demonstrate what I sounded like when his friend was like, “gosh, I hate it when people have accents like that.” lol. Apparently she thought I had lived in Korea and then gone to study, and then came back with a really gringo accent. There are different standards for foreign born and raised Koreans, Koreans who lived most of their lives in Korea and then moved out of the country to study, and native Koreans. If someone who lived in Korea spoke like me, they would be a total outcast but since I was born in America people usually say that my Korean is not bad, sometimes even good. However, I am aware of how horrible my Korean is and I am trying to improve it while I’m here. I hold myself to the highest standard so I am really terribly ashamed of my Korean but I need to use it regardless of the bad accent and incorrect grammar to improve. Rather than feel pleased when people compliment my Korean, I feel more embarassed that I’m held to the lowest standard. I’m not sure if that makes sense. I almost want people to recognize how bad my Korean is so I can improve more.
- They served some Korean side dishes even at the sushi restaurant we went to today! Here are some pictures of our yummy food!P.S. Don’t expect many pictures with people because I try to respect people’s privacy in that unless I have their explicit permission to post their picture on my blog, I will not put it on here. I may put some pictures of myself but I rarely take pictures just by myself so don’t expect too many of those either.