Min Jae and I officially moved out of his parents house~Woo!
But even though leaving the nest to start our own is exciting and fun, here are some things I learned to appreciate living with his family & will certainly miss:
Learning to appreciate silence: Just by comparison MJ’s family is very quite. They speak calmly and there is never any commotion or discussion to be heard. I grew up in a pretty noisy family; loud discussions at family party’s, in arguments- or just exciting conversations we tend to raise our voice, roaring laughter at jokes etc. None of that can be said about MJ’s family, I’ve never ever heard his parents raise their voice or have an argument. I’m not saying one is better than the other, it is just remarkably different.
Learning about togetherness: Koreans share small living spaces and they are used to spending a lot of time together. In MJ’s family home all the doors are open all the time (except the bathroom of course). Westerners are more attached to their private-space (And even by Western standards I’m kind of a loner) For me this aspect was pretty difficult to adjust to in the beginning. As I’m used to be being by myself most of the time.
I feel that there was always much understanding from his family regarding these cultural differences. And they always respected my boundaries while I tried to get into the Korean mindset. And gradually I learned to appreciate the presence of people around and I found myself leaving my door more open.
*note: It’s not that I insinuate Western family’s don’t spend time together, just less in comparison
Learning the language: It’s easier getting to know a language being surrounded by it. Simple sentences are easier to learn when you use them every day in your daily life; like I can say “Do you want coffee?” in 5 languages ~priorities. And living with them made some of these daily sentences feel almost natural to say. Hearing their conversations also helps me with learning a correct pronunciation.
My mother-in-law also made a lot of time for me to study Korean with her. She taught me how to read Hangul and during meals and cooking she would teach me all the names of the food.
Learning to cook Korean: My mother-in-law makes sure 3 times a day delicious food is served. And she spends quite some time cooking and prepping meals. It’s very different to my Belgian lifestyle, where cooking is just once a day, for dinner (the rest is cheese and bread basically) And when I cook it’s quick and easy. But in Korea I learned to appreciate the whole process of making many, many side dishes. All very healthy and perfectly complementing each other. (When I returned to Belgium in the fall I started missing her cooking)
Preparing dinner together with my mother-in-law made me more acquainted to Korean cuisine. And when MJ and I were planning to live together his mother made sure to give me some extra cooking classes. I still can’t compete with her skills, not even by a long shot ~ But no worries, after a visit she gives us plenty of boxes with food to take home.
Learning to communicate: There is obviously a language barrier communicating with my parents-in-law. Although I must say my mother-in-law has a talent for languages. She brushed of the English she learned in college and we communicate easily with a mixture of Korean and English. She even diligently studies it now. My father-in-law is a man of a few words but makes sure we communicate in a way, even if it is mostly encouraging me to eat more so I get a little more chubby. They also have an endless amount of patience dealing with my crummy Korean.
I am really grateful for the time I lived with his family as I could submerge myself in the Korean life style as well as getting comfortable around MJ’s family; watching cooking shows on Sunday’s, visiting family, talking about the news and current events, saying good morning and goodnight.
I even feel a little melancholic leaving their house (yes, as if it wasn’t enough leaving my home country, I feel like I’m leaving twice >__<)
But no worries they only live a 15-minute walk away!