Our big transition has finally come, and we are still trying to settle in to our home in Daejeon. Sahn did a fairly good job on the 14 hour plane ride, but he didn’t really sleep as much as we were hoping. Apparently, the red and yellow lights of the “no smoking” signs were a little too intriguing for him, so he spent the majority of the flight wanting to be carried up and down the isles looking at each one! <Insert joke here about how I just flew in from Chicago and my arms actually are tired.> Then another 5 hour bus later and we arrived at Hyeyoung’s parents’ house in Ulsan. This was a wonderful time of reuniting family and also introducing new members for the first time. Sahn met his grandfather for the first time, but he especially enjoyed time with his great-grandmother!
This time with Hyeyoung’s family reminded me of how much I appreciate the extra lengths that Koreans will go to when caring for guests. Not only Hyeyoung’s family, but also everyone at the offices we visited setting up new phones, a nice used Hyundai car, registering as an alien (ha, this time I am finally the alien, which seems to fit me a little more than Hyeyoung), receiving our driver’s licences, and much more. Hyeyoung’s father also wanted to make sure I was ready to operate in the Korean church, so he set me up with a new suit as well as extra pants and jackets from his own closet. I am eternally grateful for the generosity and hospitality shown by Koreans and especially my family here. Of course, I should also mention the trip out for hwae! (Korean raw fish) This kind of extra hospitality is considered part of the concept of jung (정), which is not easily translated into English. It’s meaning includes a sort of deep connection, sometimes based meraly on a strong feeling upon the first meeting, or by virtue of the connection to another relationship despite many degrees of separation. I hope to continue exploring the concept of jung throughout my time in Korea.
Hyeyoung and I then drove up to Daejeon while I received a crash course in Korean GPS Navigation vocabulary, as wells as judging distances in kilometers. We spent a few days cleaning the house and settling into the neighborhood. Hyeyoung’s parents then came up to Daejeon in order to help transport the supplies we couldn’t fit into the car. Hyeyoung’s sisters also came down from the Seoul suburbs along with family along with cousins. We all went out to a traditional Korean restaurant (한정식집), and after lunch everyone went back to their home cities. Hyeyoung and I were left to continue cleaning the house for a couple days, finding all the stores that will help us get our family on our feet in our new Daejeon home. Unfortunately, internet in our house is still a bit of an issue, so updates like these are only possible when we can get out to a campus building or coffee shop and Sahn lets us work. More to come soon!