Monthly Archives: May 2005

See you again soon!


Heidi’s Party
Originally uploaded by sarahhyunah.

H. left this morning to return to Minnesota for two months before beginning a second year in Korea. She’s been a really great friend this year, and I’m going to miss her while she’s gone, although it’s nice to know we can hang out for about a month later this summer.

In this picture, H. is sitting with H.K., an employee at KoRoot who also accompanied me on my first visit to my uncle’s house in Suji this year. She’s going to be leaving KoRoot soon to focus more on her Ph.D. studies, so I’m going to miss seeing her regularly, too! Such a smart, warm, nurturing woman.

People are constantly coming and going here in Korea, and this month has been filled with good-byes and farewells. We’ve had three people leave JEL this month, one of whom was my roommate. It sounds like an oxymoron, but I often feel like my life here is in a perpetual state of transition. I keep wondering what it’s going to be like when I leave this fall. I know that I plan on returning next summer, so I’ll really only be in the States for about nine months. But still, it will be an emotional time, because so much has happened this year, and moving across the Pacific is a little different than just moving across a few states. Enough obsessing about the future! I’m going to try to enjoy the rest of my time here for what it is . . . . Summer is in swing–it’s warm, but the unbearable heat has yet to strike, thank goodness.

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Congratulations to B. & A.!!!


Lily Class: Congrats
Originally uploaded by sarahhyunah.

Here’s the picture I sent to B. & A. . . . Congratulations to them, since they will officially tie the knot on Sunday the 29th. They’re getting married in Manteo, North Carolina on the Outer Banks. My family spent a vacation there over ten years ago (along with L.–good times). I wish I could magically transport myself to the wedding this weekend. First of all, I haven’t seen B. in a long time, and we were all together two years ago when S. and T. got married in Hawaii. Secondly, B. has excellent, discriminating taste, so I know her wedding will be gorgeous. I’ve already seen pix of the gown, and it’s fabulous. I’ll have to experience the weekend vicariously through pictures.

B. and I first met when we were both in high school, although we didn’t get to know each other better until later. I used to work at Coffee Selection, a ridiculous coffee store within Oak Park Mall in Kansas. Anyway, I worked with B.’s childhood friend, so that’s how we met (also how I met S.’s future husband, T.–crazy!!). S., B., and I all ended up in the same dorm for freshman year at Creighton, and the rest is history. It’s hard to believe that eight years have passed since then . . . and they’re both married (or about to be) with “real” jobs, while I’m, ahem, NOT married and keep floating through one-year job contracts. Anyway, even though we don’t get to see each other often, I care a great deal about B., and I wish her all the happiness in the world and hope this weekend is a blast (as well as the two-week Italian honeymoon–shouldn’t be hard!).

As I just read through this entry, I’m realizing how silly all of these abbreviations are. I guess I want to protect people’s privacy, but seeing as how I have only given my blog address out to actual friends, I wonder if I really need to do so. Any thoughts?

In other news, my roommate moved out last weekend. I have no idea if/when I’m getting a new one. Only 58 more working days! (Might get shaved down a bit since I asked to have Aug. 19th as my last day.) This weekend, we’ll be saying farewell to H. (until she returns in August), so that will be fun–dancing and late nights in Hongdae, oh yeah.

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Cute Family


Halmoni’s Birthday
Originally uploaded by sarahhyunah.

This is my younger sister with two cousins (Woo Young on the right). The young cousin in the middle was really fascinated with me. Upon learning that I was “miguksaram” (American), she craned her neck back to look up at me and asked, “Do you know your ABC’s?”

By the way, I have a full set of photos from Saturday on my Flickr page (just click on the photo here to get to it). I also added more pictures to the JEL set.

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My “Fifth” Aunt


Halmoni’s Birthday
Originally uploaded by sarahhyunah.

When I was born, Fifth Aunt was living next door to my parents. She remembers bathing me and helping to take care of me for the few months I spent with my mother. She was strongly opposed to giving me away for adoption, although my father saw to it that it happened. When I saw her on Saturday, she was very happy to see me and said that my face is the same as when I was a baby. There’s many things I know she wants to tell me, but it’s frustrating b/c my Korean is so, so limited. Through my cousin, we talked about how my birthday (October 21) may actually be the lunar date, because she remembers that it was a very cold day when I was born.

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Halmoni’s Birthday


Halmoni’s Birthday
Originally uploaded by sarahhyunah.

Saturday was my halmoni’s 80th birthday party. There were somewhere between 40 and 50 people there–all family! It was held on the top floor of the Gyeonggi Small Business Center in Suwon–so strange to be there, because I spent three nights there last August as part of the OKF tour. The Center is only a 10-minute drive from my uncle’s apartment in Suji, so it’s weird to think that I was in such close proximity to my family last summer and I didn’t even know it.

It was overwhelming (but in a good way) to be in a room filled with my birth family. I’d only met about 1/2 of them prior to Saturday, so there were a lot of introductions at the party. Everyone welcomed me with open arms. It’s a really bizarre experience to meet your family when you’re a grown adult raised in a completely different culture, speaking a foreign language. I have a few relatives who speak English well, and I rely on them to help translate when I speak with relatives whose English is more limited. Of course, ideally, I will soon be able to know enough Korean to hold a simple conversation on my own.

This picture is just a sampling of the cousins–there’s something, like, 20 of us. I can’t keep track! Most of the people I met I know vaguely how they’re related to me, but I know few people’s names. Anyway, Halmoni was happy to receive my present to her: a framed photo from the day we met in January. She even forgave me for writing the informal (rather than honorific) version of “Happy Birthday” by mistake in Korean.

I met a lot of relatives from Gangwan-do (the province east of Gyeonggi, where Seoul is located). They all invited me to visit them this summer. At this point, I’ve met all of my mother’s siblings, except one of my aunts who was too sick to make the party. I hope to be able to make the most of the time I have left with them this summer . . . .

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Post-vacation reality sets in

This week, I kind of came crashing down from the previous weeks’ anticipation and then enjoyment of Hong Kong. I have a little over three months until I’m done at JEL (last day–August 25th), so in the big picture, that’s not much, but I think my problem is that I’m so fixated on it that it’s making the days drag by. The cool thing, though, is that one of the kindy students’ moms bought all the teachers their own bottle of merlot, so that was nice.

I had to see my doctor in Sanbon on Monday, and while I was there, he asked me if I would be interested in tutoring his son this summer. His son attends a boarding school in the States–Choate. Anyone heard of it?? (I think my old roommate, B.M., briefly went there–a fact I used to tease him about.) The only reason I know of Choate is because it was one of several hoity-toity boarding schools listed in the catalog sent to all Duke TIP participants (this was the crazy thing where they have 7th-graders take the SAT). Anyway, my old 7th-grade self living in Cleveland, Missouri used to endlessly pour over that catalog and fantasize about going to an East Coast boarding school, frolicking past brick buildings and autumn foliage wearing a cute Izod shirt with matching sweatervest. Oh, and I fantasized about having stimulating intellectual conversations in French, too (but mostly I thought about the outfits). Anyway, now that I’ve grown up and realized that East Coast elitism is so not me (although I did recently admit that a lot of my recollection of past events centers around what I was wearing–does this make me shallow?), I find it very funny whenever I think of Choate or other such Ivy League feeder schools and how I used to dream about attending one.

That was a big digression, which probably maybe 0.01% of you found mildly interesting, but my point is that my doctor’s son is apparently even more of an academic nut than I used to be (probably spurred by the enormous pressure I’m sure his parents place on him). He’s determined to go to an Ivy League school, and he wants to get a really high score on two SAT II subject tests: American History and World History. He’s coming home to Seoul for the summer, and his parents want him to get some intensive tutoring. Dr. Nam asked if I had any experience with teaching American History, and while I tried to play it off like, “Sure, no problem,” inside I was thinking, “I always hated history from elementary school to Creighton–BUT I sure would love to gauge Dr. Nam’s pockets and possibly get free dinners from his wife.” Anyway, it’s up in the air whether this will go through–sure could use the extra money, though.

Saturday is the party for my halmoni‘s birthday. I’m meeting my younger sister in Suwon at the subway station there, and then we’ll meet the rest of the tribe at a restaurant. I’m excited, although I think it will be a little overwhelming with all the family there.

Started reading One Hundred Years of Solitude last night. Recently, I finished Citizen Girl, by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus (I think that’s their names, I can’t remember except that they’re vaguely WASP-y). This is The Nanny Diaries follow-up that I was referring to earlier. Speaking of East Coast elitism . . . it still fascinates me at times, but it also repulses me, much like US Weekly and everything on MTV. Anyway, Citizen Girl, while not very good overall, was at times funny and interesting given that the main character is nonprofit in her heart yet is trying out the corporate world out of desperation. I’d say it might be a decent plane or beach read.

Long post! Just some random bullshit, b/c I’m bored at the moment–quite common during the week in Sanbon . . . .

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Last Hong Kong picture, I promise


Hong Kong
Originally uploaded by sarahhyunah.

Well, I thought I’d finish posting Hong Kong pics with this gem–of course I’m always, constantly drinking water, and this is particularly funny b/c the Hong Kong Maryknoll house chooses to put theirs in Jim Beam bottles. Plus, you can see a miniature version of the landscape in the bottle. 🙂 Whenever I see Just, who traveled with us to Vietnam, he always asks me if I still drink as much water as I did on that trip–and the answer is, of course, YES! I don’t know, I guess the whole drinking water thing started with me towards the end of Creighton, when I finally became more health-conscious. Plus, I have a natural tendency towards excess when it comes to consumption (which I’ve been trying my entire life to curb).

Anyway, this post wasn’t supposed to be about my water-drinking habits. I had a cool weekend in Seoul. Caught up on all the happenings that went on while I was “camping” and Hong-Kong-ing. Went to see the Lantern Parade on Jongno with H., C., and T. Also celebrated J.S.’s birthday (belatedly) last Saturday. Later visited The Lounge, saw its remodeling. Coming up this weekend is my halmoni’s birthday party in Suwon, so I won’t be staying at KoRoot again until later in the month. I need to save some money!!! My doctor in Sanbon asked me if I could tutor his son this summer (he wants to take the SAT II Subject Test in American History–yeesh). . . at which my eyes immediately lit up with $ signs, BUT I would have to travel to Gangnam at least twice during the week, which is quite a hike from Sanbon.

Ugh, I’m wearing my glasses today b/c my contacts were giving me fits yesterday. I kind of like how I look more “intellectual” (or “post-modern”. . . or “pretentious,” heehee), but damn, do they give me a headache! Anyway, I added K. & N.’s Hong Kong photos (thanks, H.!) to my Flickr site, so if you don’t feel satiated from my blog, go check that out.

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