Every day the wonderful happens…

and I'm here to blog about it.

What I Learned From Yeonju July 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 10:00 PM

How to pronounce jajangmyeon.

Despite what the “gift suggestion list” that your adoption agency gave you states, Koreans are not all big fans of Crystal Light. As a matter of fact, she had never heard of it……or Tang. Please don’t buy Tang for a gift for your foster family.

Speaking of that gift suggestion list, I showed it to her and she laughed, saying it explained a lot. She also said she found basically every item on the agency staff gift list more appealing than the foster family list (think hot chocolate, nuts, stationery). She was as shocked and appalled as we were that Spam even appeared on ANY list.

All Koreans really DO hate cilantro.

That attitudes about domestic adoption in Korea are very slowly changing, in a good direction. But not nearly fast enough. I tried to ask about attitudes toward single mothers and she would only tell me that it seems too hard to raise a child alone.

When Americans say things over and over and go on and on about something (like oh my gosh, thank you SO much! We love this more than you could ever know!), Koreans tend to think we are being insincere. It feels more honest to them to say a simple thank you and be done with it.

She was surprised that everywhere we went, people asked “how are you” and made conversation, acted familiar, etc. I think at first it made her uncomfortable until I told her that was just how it is in the South. For instance, when we went out with our real estate agent, I would hug her and talk to her (the agent) the entire time. Yeonju assumed I had known her my entire life and was surprised to hear that I just met her when we started house hunting.

That they have Costco in Korea. I found this out while wondering aloud what kind of souvenir a Korean person might like to have from the US. Because, honestly, I had no clue. She said, Nothing really, anything we want from America, we can get at Costco. Which made me laugh out loud.

That an apartment in Seoul costs about 3 times as much as a large house with a big yard here where I live.

That while some people, especially young people, in Seoul do have little dogs that they carry around with them, cats are much less common, maybe even unheard of to have as pets. She was not only surprised that we had both inside our house, but more shocking to her was the fact that our dog slept in our bed. She asked with a very concerned look on her face, Is this common???? That sounds so uncomfortable!

That Koreans do eat rice and kimchi with every meal, but never get tired of it. She told me she does get tired of many other dishes like japchae, but never rice or kimchi. Which made me think of how I can’t stand spaghetti more than once every few months, but I could eat peanut butter multiple times per day, every day, on a variety of things for the rest of my life.

That to the Korean eye, David Bromstad and Arnold Schwarzenegger are interchangeable.

That Americans are tall. One night as our cat slithered out from his favorite hiding place, she said, Even your cat is tall!

Most importantly she has taught me about the beautiful balance of holding on with your heart while letting go with your hands.

Thank you, Yeonju, for your strong and generous heart. We love you and will miss you. We hope to see you again very, very soon!
With Love,
Your Family in America


6 Responses to “What I Learned From Yeonju”

  1. beautiful lessons. thank you for sharing them. and i always suspected those "suggested gift lists" were pretty lame. glad we didn't take those suggestions either time!

  2. Tracy Says:

    Thanks for sharing all you learned!!! I am glad you are able to stay in such close contact with them. Now I know what not to take when we finally go get Emi, and not to go over board with THANK YOU!!

  3. chris Says:

    Yeonju was so warm, sincere and genuine…a very special person and a great representative for Korea. We learned a lot…mostly that, despite superficial and cultural differences, we are pretty much the same!! Good to be reminded!

  4. Sue Says:

    those are some wonderful lessons…and i am sure Yeonju has some pretty special lessons from you and our American ways as well. what a blessing you each are to each other!(and thanks for the 'suggested gift lists" tips…i might need to run my gifts by you for the thumbs up or down before we go get Leo)

  5. Margie Says:

    Wonderful :)"That they have Costco in Korea."I passed it on a day trip out of Seoul on one of my visits – although American chains are everywhere, it was really strange to see it there. I never got to visit, though, hopefully next trip.

  6. JoJo Says:

    Thanks for sharing your lessons. My favorite of course is 'holding with your heart while letting go with your hands.'

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