After I finished my summer classes, I went to stay at my friend, Hana’s house. It was really cool meeting her parents and exploring her hometown of Daejeon. I learned a lot about what it’s actually like to live in Korea from following Hana around and joining her during her daily activities. Everyday when I woke up there would always be breakfast on the table that Hana’s mom had made for us, and it was always something different and delicious. One time though, she made an ‘American’ breakfast that consisted of scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, french fries and toast topped with corn, carrots and cheese. Though it’s not exactly what I ate back in the States, it was a really sweet gesture, and surprisingly it tasted good.
After breakfast Hana and I would head to her Hagwon, which is a private academy where students go to learn and practice certain skills or subjects. Hana’s Hagwon specializes in visual art. So, we rode the bus to downtown Daejeon, and in the Hagwon students would come in and get straight to work. Drawing or sculpting pieces for hours on end. I tried to draw with them but my skills were no match in comparison to the other students so instead, I spent my time studying Korean while Hana created new pieces. Afterwards, we would go have lunch or Bingsu (Korean shaved-ice sundae). Sometimes we also went shopping or to the park to watch movies and listen to music. Apparently, it’s really popular for young people to go to the park and order fried chicken (Hana and I did that a few times). After we had dinner we would come home, where there was usually food already made in case we were still hungry, and I would tell Hana’s parents about my day in Korean to practice. Her parents were so wonderful and patient with my limited speaking skills, they would even speak English sometimes to make things easier for me. It was very helpful, and I ended up learning a lot. Lastly, every night before Hana and I went to bed, we would exercise in the park. I never felt more healthier and in shape before.
On the weekend, we always did something exciting. One time Hana and I visited one of the mountains and attempted to go hiking but between the intense heat and the incessant bugs flying around us, we gave up early into the climb. The next weekend Hana, her mom, and I went to the observatory to listen to a presentation on the constellations and stars. However, it was entirely in Korean so I only got a few words here and there, but I was nonetheless fascinated by the presentation and the opera singers who came in to perform. They sang these beautiful songs both in Korean and English, but regardless of the which language they sang in, their vocal ability was amazing. After their performance I thanked them and many people were so impressed by my limited Korean. In many of the cities outside of Seoul, there aren’t as many tourists or people who aren’t Korean living there, so I had to get used to the curious stares and questions that I often got during my time in Daejeon.
I loved living in the dorms on the Yonsei University campus, but staying with Hana and her family was wonderful experience. Being a part of a family, helped me with a lot of the homesickness I was feeling and it allowed me to experience Korea in an entirely different way. It’s also nice to know that if I come to Korea again, I have a family to visit and look out for me.