Love is in the Air in Korea

I had a very special occurrence happen to me during the past couple weeks. My wife and four year old daughter visited me here in Korea!

That’s right, I’m married, which makes me a nontraditional student at SDSU along with my age. My wife, Rie, and daughter, Alissa, flew in to Seoul the previous Friday and spent the weekend here.

It was a bit awkward at first, having been separated for so long, but something clicked and it was like we never missed a beat. Having a four year old with us, we didn’t set out to do too many ambitious things around Seoul. We kept it calm and moderate. The most memorable of events was visiting my aunt and spending the day with her and her daughter’s family, having a home cooked meal and being in the comforts of her wonderful home.

My aunt and I were close once as she came to live with my parents and me years ago in the US in an attempt to immigrate to the US. Her family eventually voted against her leaving Korea since it would have meant starting all over again at such a late age. But she is a wonderful woman and quite a pious one at that. She constantly prays for our family and I feel that the power of her prayer has kept my immediate family happy and healthy.

The following day, Rie, Alissa and I went to Namsan Tower, otherwise known as Seoul Tower to view Seoul atop a tower built on a mountain. It was amazing to witness the size of Seoul from atop the tower. If you imagine Manhattan spread out as far as the eye can see in all directions, that’s what we saw from atop the tower. I wasn’t cognizant of the enormity of Seoul until I saw it with my own eyes. Now I know what 10 million people living together in an extended community looks like. It’s massive.

Rie, Alissa, and I parted ways on Monday at Incheon airport, an award winning airport for its design. My daughter was heartbroken after saying goodbye. Having a child in your life, you really learn what true love is and I felt that love and bond between us throughout the entire weekend. I’m still growing as a person, even in my middle ages, and having a child of my own really adds to the experience of life in so many rewarding ways. I see my daughter and I being great friends for many years to come and I will do my best to guide her in the best way I can.

Did I mention what a great woman my wife is? Rie has developed into the greatest of mothers. She provides all the essential requirements for a happy and healthy family, to her credit, mostly on her own while I struggle. I feel spoiled at times, but Alissa and I are truly lucky to have such a person in our lives. It only makes me want to be worthy of such blessings and in the end I am a better person for that. I couldn’t ask for more from a woman and for this I am blessed.

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For our Korean Cultural Exchange class we went to a cooking school to learn how to cook a few dishes of the Korean variety last Friday. No, it wasn’t lathered in the infamous red chili paste known as Kochujang nor was it Dweangjang, fermented soybean paste. Instead, we made Korean style pancakes, Jun, and soy sauce based Dukbokki, a rice cake dish with mixed vegetables.

There are a lot of amazing cooks out there, especially back in the States. The US is as food-centric a country as any. I’m not natural born cook. Sometimes you just have to admit that you weren’t put on this earth to do certain things and for me, one of these things is cooking. But these dishes were pretty easy to assemble, so if my wife needs a day off in the kitchen one of these days, I can get right in there and cook up a storm of all but two dishes, and maybe some budae chigae, a specialized instant ramen recipe that anyone can do. That’s the thing, if it’s easy to do, than I for sure can do it! I suppose if I go around with the attitude that everything is easy, I’d be able to do a lot more things. Maybe I’ll give that a try!

This blog is the second to the last of my posts. I will therefore save any enlightened epiphanies based on my experiences in Korea for my next one. But I would like to try to turn more people on to coming to the Global Village program at Yonsei, Wonju campus. Gabriella, the other SDSU student here, will be staying on for another semester and I know she is excited to do so.

As a participant in this program, you get paid a stipend which covers all of your living and entertainment costs and then some. You interact closely with native Korean students on the topic of cultural exchange, you get to attend and take classes at a top-notch university (in English mind you), situated in the picturesque mountains of Gangwon-do (the location of the 2018 Winter Olympics), all the while fulfilling academic and study abroad requirements at SDSU. I know Korea doesn’t have the lure that Europe does, but if you have any interest in Asia, you should put the Global Village program on your list of considerations. There’s no regretting it!

Again, thanks for reading and participating in my blog and if you have any questions you would like answered, please feel free to post them below. As always, be well and be well to your family. They’re the only ones you’ve got!

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