I’ll just say it again. I’M GOING TO MEET MY EXTENDED FAMILY FOR THE FIRST TIME! AHHH! (This is an excited AHHH.)
You know that feeling you get when something really great happens to you? Something so great that you keep questioning whether this is really happening to you? That’s how I still feel about Korea. Obviously not every second of the day – on the walk home today my feet hurt, I was sweating all over, and was already exhausted from teaching – but once I’m well-rested, it’s easy to let a huge smile find its way across my face. I love being here.
But all of this is made even more pronounced by that whole family thing. Since I came to Korea, people have frequently asked whether I have/when I would meet my extended family. But I didn’t want to rush into it (or I’m dramatic). I picture it as being a big moment, and while I don’t have any specific expectations, I don’t want our first-time meeting to be rushed.
That being said, Korean thanksgiving is a perfect time. Chuseok/추석 (pronounced chew-sock) or the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving, falls on this weekend. Like Thanksgiving in America, we get 3 days off of school, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. So my five-day weekend is almost here! During 추석, the entire family usually gets together. People give gifts, with lotion/body, fruit, and Spam gift sets, interestingly, being common. Spam is a big deal here. While I still don’t appreciate it, I wish I’d brought some from the US to give as gifts – it’s expensive! But back to추석 …
Before I left for Korea, my grandpa told my mom that he would meet me during 추석. I wasn’t exactly sure how and if it would happen, but now I’m only a day away from meeting him. My aunt will come from Busan on Saturday to pick me up, and I’ll spend my long weekend with her and other members of my family, until Tuesday or Wednesday. (We actually have Wednesday off because of a new Korean law enacted this year that says if a holiday falls on a weekend, employees still get an day off during the week. America, let’s follow suit!) So this is lengthy for a first meeting. I’m not exactly sure whose house I’ll be staying at and the language barrier will be a thing, but I’m excited! This year has already involved a lot of flexibility and a general willingness to let go of things that I would normally be concerned about in the US. If I wasn’t able to do this, I think the stress would overwhelm me.
There will be plenty of 추석details (and pictures!) next week.