Living with a Host Family in My Home Country

For the few weeks I was in Korea, I had a summer internship. 

Usually when I stay in Korea, I stay in Ilsan, a suburb of Seoul. But my internship was in Seoul, really far away from Ilsan. Luckily, most of my mom’s friends live in the heart of Seoul. One of my mom’s closest friends happened to live near my company and offered me her extra room.

Funny thing is, this friend met my mom in college. They were both interested in drawing, so they met at the school’s drawing club. Unlike my mom, she is really reserved and quiet. She does not hold judgements against people and is not one to judge. She is very religious and frequents church, where she met her husband, every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. After almost 30 years, she remains devoted to her job, which is a bit like the parks and recreation branch of the local government. She is a supporter of impeached former President Park Geun-Hye. She does not walk fast and is not a fan of exercising. She is, in almost every aspect, different from my mom but is one of my mom’s closest and most frequently contacted friend.

One thing she does have in common with my mom is that she has a daughter. And she is the same age as I am.

This was the first time I stayed at someone’s house for an extended period of time. And this wasn’t a relative or a really close friend. This was someone I barely knew through my mom. And I was about to leave my comfortable bubble in Ilsan and live with five strangers for two weeks. For two weeks, I had to share a bathroom with three other people. I couldn’t liberally wander around the apartment, and I had to be somewhat subdued for fear that I would disrupt the languid atmosphere.

In those two weeks, I learned more about Korean culture through my mom’s friend’s daughter than I had known for the past decade. I learned how different Korean families operate and about Korean politics, economics, kpop stars, everything, from someone I hadn’t known for a while.

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