My Trip to South Korea

Long time no see! Well, actually I haven’t seen any of you readers ever so maybe “long time no see” is a bit inappropriate. But since I haven’t seen my blog for a while, it is in a way a “long time no see”.

Let’s cut to the chase. Last July, those two weeks of five exams before my second semester at uni was officially over, I was on the verge of mental and physical collapse. I was overly anxious, too anxious even to go out and take care of everyday’s matters such as grocery. Too anxious to make phone calls. Too anxious about my personal safety when there wasn’t a reason to be worried. Too anxious and scared out of wits about the exams.
I was exhausted.
Then I went home for a month. It’s like Mom told me before she left. She told me that “home” was the place my mom was waiting for me.

So I went home, for the duration of the whole month of August. And it was wonderful. So here is a break-down of my trip.

The Places & The People
I was primarily in Seoul, visiting my aunts and uncle and cousins and former private English teacher. Oh, and shopping with my sister. I had loads of fun shopping – and not just for books! We shopped for clothes and shoes and had a good time. Now I’m not afraid of going to the department store alone (everyone’s so friendly – many people have a professional facade they slip on when they are doing their job. I can’t say for sure whether that’s healthy.) but in Germany there’s scarcely anything that I like or that fits me. My sister and I also went to bookstores (there are three big chain stores – 교보, 영풍, 반디엔루니스) a lot.
I also spent ten days in Ulsan visiting my maternal grandparents, who are the most giving people I know (My Granddad is a real patriarch à la Daniel MacGregor), and my aunt. Out of those ten I went to Daegoo with my aunt for an afternoon, and another day my sister and I made a trip over to Gyeongju to visit my other aunt and our surrogate cousin.
I think I’ve met almost all of my immediate family members (by “immediate” I mean uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents). The only ones I didn’t get to meet were my Canadian relatives, and four other cousins (Jeez, I actually only saw 4 cousins while I was there – out of ten.) But it was SO MUCH FUN to meet with uncles and aunts and to banter with them and to just see them again. It’s been four years since I saw them last (most of them anyway), and it was so so good to be a small part of a big family again. I think my mind relaxed more and more as I met more and more people. Weird, huh? Since the people I meet in Germany wear me out so much. But being on the streets, even in the stores, didn’t bother me at all in Korea. I didn’t stick out, and the faces I saw were familiar in a way, and had a calming effect. In short, I felt at home.

The Books & The Reading
I confess, I didn’t get much reading done. I read Mari Yonehara‘s book on her time she spent in Prague when she was in elementary school, which resonated with me here and there. With my sister’s permission I took it with me. I also read the Korean translation of A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park, and at first I couldn’t believe it was a translation! Of course, the author wrote about Korea in 13th century, so translating that into Korean wasn’t as hard, I suppose. But I feel a respect for the author who researched all this to write such a beautiful book that contains as much – if not more? – Korean sentiments than any other books written by Korean authors who have lived their whole lives in Korea. While I was bored, I also read The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie‘s first detective novel, and also the novel that set off Hercule Poirot’s long career. My sister told me that AC and her sister had made a bet that it is possible to write a detective story one can’t guess who the murderer is until the end. I’d say AC succeeded!
I bought only one English book while I was in Korea, the rest is gifts from my aunt (my second aunt on father’s side) and my sister:
August Book Haul 2August Book Haul  1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So the one I bought is George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London. I lucked out at bargain sale at Bandi & Lunis my aunt got me four books for 3000 Won each – that’s like 2 Euros each, and even less in USD. Those are: The Big Four by Agatha Christie, Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger, Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts, and Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, Signet edition. My sister gave me three more books, The Labours of Hercules, Measly Middle Ages, and English Fairy Tales, Wordsworth Editions.
I also got some books in Korean – two books on Korean civil law and criminal law, respectively, and a book I bought at the Gyeongju National Museum about the Korean culture. My sis gave me two cute, funny books, one about 리락쿠마, and the other one about cuuuuute cats. Oh, and one more from my first aunt on maternal side:

August Book Haul 3

The Personal
I learned that just because I’m living in Germany right now doesn’t mean I have to live here forever and that it is okay that I sometimes can’t think of a certain German word, or Korean word, or English word. I learned that I don’t have to hate my country just because its politics suck and its legal system is shaky. I realized that I am actually pretty proud of my country and that I get defensive when someone bashes it. I learned to love and appreciate my family, and I basked in the precious feeling of being loved by people just because I was related to them. I have promised several members of family that I’d take care of myself, that I’d eat healthily, that I’d exercise. That helps, actually, because now it isn’t just about me, it’s about those promises, too.

I hope I have tanked on enough positive energy to last two whole semesters. *takes a deep breath* Here we go.

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