Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Family in Korea

I'm moving to the countryside this weekend. My boyfriend's mother lives in 안동 (Andong), which is about four hours away from Seoul by bus or train. You might remember from an earlier post that my boyfriend and I visited there together a while ago. We will move there together this Saturday. In the next couple of weeks, we'll figure out how to get him on the same planes as I am to America on Christmas Day.

My father will be in 울산 (Ulsan) this weekend on business. You might remember from an even earlier post that I have a couple of friends there and went to visit them for a weekend over the summer. It works out quite nicely so that my boyfriend and I can go there Saturday night or Sunday and see my father and my friends Reza and 성동 (Sungdong). We'll be a bit tired after this busy weekend, but we can take some down time after moving in to rest.

So there's the cold version of my moving and seeing my father this weekend.

Here are my thoughts about it.

I won't have to pay rent, just earn enough to pay off the credit card balance my Japan trip racked up and to grocery shop and travel a little bit. My boyfriend will also be working. That means I don't have to worry about rent for a whole two months. I love that. It's so stressful working and studying and always traveling here and there to meet friends and students. Also, one big stress in my relationship with my boyfriend has been that we both wake around noonish (me usually even later) and work in the evenings, and we live an hour and a half away from each other. Somehow we still manage to see each other every weekend and usually once or twice during the week, but the difficulty of organizing our lives takes its toll. In Andong, even if we work our butts off, we will come home to each other. We can cook together, watch TV before bed together, even clean together. I really love him. People are starting to ask if we're getting married (Korean society is more conservative than American society) and it doesn't freak me out. I just say, "I hope so, much later."

Anyway, I'm terrible at living alone. I love the freedom, but at the same time I loathe it.

I love that I can eat anything I want anytime I want to, but I hate eating alone and I'll never cook delicious, healthy food for myself. I live mostly on ramen, 삼각김밥 (convenience store triangle sushi rolls), and egg fried rice unless I go out. Living with someone else encourages me to have a normal eating and sleeping schedule. Also, because my boyfriend and I both enjoy cooking, we can rotate meals and have motivation to make more and more delicious food.

I love that I don't have to study or do my homework, but I hate that it's so easy to forget about my online courses that I'm falling dreadfully behind. I hate myself for it, but as usual, I'm much better at wasting my time doing nothing and feeling busy anyway than I am at studying. I think I'm allergic to studying. My boyfriend has promised to make me study, and even to "take" my classes with me, like Physics, my worst subject. When I lived with other students, seeing them study made me feel guilty for not studying and I got my homework done and went to class for the most part. Living with my mother was even more conducive to study because she's got the motherly nagging thing down. I guess I never thanked her for that. Thank you. :) Another problem now is that online classes don't feel real to me, whereas sitting in a classroom however many times a week makes me feel like they're obligatory and therefore I'm more likely to complete assignments because I'm accountable to a real person. Basically, I need to be held accountable to study. Messed up, I know. I just prefer learning via the sponge method to making a conscious effort. I also learn better that way, anyway. For instance, I've learned Korean much faster by making friends and living in Korea, although I don't really actively study aside from curiosity, than I did taking a class which I mostly ignored. I willingly admit that this is a mental problem I have, and that I'm not fighting it as actively as I could be. Although I know my procrastination and detachment is a completely ridiculous issue that exists only in my head and that I could change it if I tried. But on the other hand, I can't seem to find a way to light that fire under my own ass and get my life in gear. I'm lazy and a hard worker at the same time, but my priorities are not in order. Living with someone else, especially someone who loves me and cares about my future and is willing to push me toward it, helps me get my life in order.

I love that I can watch whatever I want on TV without thinking about what anyone else may or may not like. I hate that the TV is my only friend. It's lonely. Even if I talk to five people on MSN while the TV is running so there are voices in my room; even if I think about the fact that almost 100 people also live in 2m x 2m rooms on my floor... I'm so lonely living alone. I'll gladly give up my freedom of TV programming in order to have a warm body on the couch next to me. Especially if that person I'm sharing the couch with is cuddly and lovable.

Anyway, about seeing my dad... it's strange. Now my two worlds are colliding. My Korean friends whom I happened to become friends with in America and also met in Korea don't constitute a collision of worlds in my head because they've always been associated with Korea. My father is rooted and anchored in America. The only time I've seen him in another country, although he goes on many international business trips, was when we went on a family trip to Germany and England about 15 years ago. Being in Korea, I've left America in a corner and concentrated on my life here, my new start. But I only have two and a half months left before returning to America for six months. It's really helping to pound that reality back into my head. I'm on cloud nine, but I have to find a balance between that and the real world. And, I have less than a year to choose a country, a career, allegiances, direction, etc.. I'm pretty sure I want to stay in Korea, but for how long? What comes next? I could imagine myself living in either Korea or America, but having them collide makes it more clear that they are separate by nature and that I can only have one at a time.

Thinking way far ahead, I would prefer that my children grow up in American schools, because the Korean educational system has issues I've already discussed in terms of the extracurricular network of academies Korean children are expected to spend all of their spare time in. Also, attending English-speaking schools will increase their chances in global job markets, because Korean is not a global language. But, at the same time, I want my children to have Korean culture and to love Korea. This is, of course, assuming I marry a Korean man, perhaps even my current boyfriend. Another important factor concerning my future children is that I obviously have wanderlust, which is either genetic or a result of moving so many times during my childhood. I think it is both a gift and a curse. I want my children to have a concrete idea of a place they can call home, but at the same time I don't want them to be so anchored to home that they can't break free and find their own paths. At what point to I ignore my wanderlust so that I don't damage my children's lives? To what extent to I follow it so that I instill cultural acceptance, social skills, and independence in them? Being forced to start over in a new school is a painful but rewarding process. How do I know how much is too much? Why am I worrying about children when I don't even know where I'll live and what I'll be doing next year? Am I growing up? Haha.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure you've thought of this - but take your secret, passionate business idea and flourish it. Then you'll have the resources to wanderlust AND still provide well for your kids. Many families travel with a hoard of professional nannies, tutors, cooks, bodyguards, etc etc