I have yet to write about my host family, and I am sure people are curious about who they are as they are my second family for two months.
My host family has two little girls, in first and fourth grade, and a mom and a dad. There is also a little dog named 흰둥이, Hyweindoongi. Right now I do not have a photo of all of us together but I will share what I do have.
Me and my host mom are pretty close. In fact, as I write this post, we are about to go on a lunch date just the two of us in about one hour. During the week everyone is so busy so we usually only see each other in the car in the morning and some at night. She drives me to school every day, and we drop the kids off to their school on the way. The morning car ride is when I can get the most language practice with her and we have discussed a very wide range of topics from, Confucianism to her childhood. It was my host moms idea to get an exchange student as she wanted an older sister figure for her two children.
I am going to make another post about this later, but because of Confucianist traditions and the fact that Gwangju is a very conservative area, she is expected to do all of the house work and child care in addition to her job. Males and females have very separate and expected roles, which is something I have never experienced first hand before. I do not know how she manages it all.
The host dad works in the government, whatever that might mean. My host 이모 has mentioned to me that he does like me. It is just hard to tell because he is very quiet and stays to his room, but this is apparently normal for Gwangju guys. My host sisters say that it is the same when I am not here too. However, when I did come late one night apparently he was worried… I just wish he would tell me in person.
I do not really have long conversations with him as I do with the kids or the host mom. We usually talk briefly at breakfast and at night if I peel and cut up fruit for the family I will bring him some and he’ll say a few things. A few days of the week he goes out to drink with his colleagues late at night and so I do not see him nearly as much as any of the other family members.
Ok… now for my host sisters! I am not going to put their names up, because I only have permission to upload their photos, but I’ll call them H and S. H is the older sister and is in 4th grade. S is in 1st grade.
S was very enthusiastic and not shy to meet me, unlike H. But soon they were both calling me 언니, “older sister” in Korean, and playing games and fooling around with me too. I once came to pick them up from school with donuts and they were so so excited, and were telling all their friends who I was and showing me all their classrooms. The girls are super sweet, and I have gotten a lot better at 반말 with them, which is the informal level of Korean speech (there are three levels of speech). I also get to hear the most 광주 사투리, Gwangju dialect, from them.
Yesterday I took the girls on a girls night out, without their mom and dad, to downtown 시내. I think they really enjoyed that first step of independence without their parents…. Koreans are always keeping a close watch on their kids.
They’re still at the age where they are ok wearing basically the same outfit, down to the purse and shoes and hair style.
So last night after we explored 시내 downtown together, I took them out to dinner and met up with my friend Peter and his host brother. I think I understand why parents and grandparents want to spoil their children now — they are so cute and it feels so gratifying to see them so happy.
After we ate lunch we went to see Spiderman, which is in English but had Korean subtitles. The kids loved it and we spoiled again (heehee) by getting them cola and a huge box of caramel popcorn, which apparently their parents do not always get them.
Then after the movie we walked to a second hand book store where Peter and I got our host siblings each a book. S chose a comic book, which she is reading write now as I write this post.
We all left for home around 9:30 and this is the last photo we took together.
It was a really fun night with our host siblings and Peter and I hope to go on more adventures with them like this! My host 이모 is suggesting that we take them to a water park in an upcoming weekend. I would be totally down, and it would be nice to give my host mom the full day off.
Here are just some random photos I have taken with my host siblings around our house on our walks… one in there is of S reading in my room.
Also fun fact — 횐둥이 their dog is named after a cartoon character in Korea who is a chubby white dog also named 횐둥이.
I think 횐둥이 is suspicious of me, or just curious, but she keeps peeing right in front of my bedroom door. So when I wake up I have to check to see if the coast is clear. The first night I did not think of it, and stepped in a warm pool of pee. Otherwise, the dog is pretty cute (and pretty spoiled) and we can fit her in a basket to take her on bike rides.
Ok, that is all for now, but I will post some more photos of host family life as we do more activities together.