Last July, I was an exchange student to participate in Asia-Pacific Youth Rally 1 in South Korea. There were friends from 9 countries to meet there. The first night, we stayed at Olympic Parktel. It was huge, high-so and convenient. Then we had to leave for the camp. There, we found a lot of Korean friends. We began to get to know one another.
The camp was at Youth Hostel in Seoul. Altough, it was in the capital city, we were close to the nature, too. Besides activities inside the camp, we got a chance to go see the extremely clear water fall (little one) and fresh green fields. We stayed there at the camp for three days and then the last night came, we gathered around the bonfire, lit the candles, wished and put them out by our own thumbs and index fingers. It is a tradition not to blow but to stand the pain. And then.. separated to spend a few more nights with Korean families.
While waiting for my named to be called out and then I would see my host family, I was so excited and kept talking non-stop. At last, “Mr.Nattareeka, please grab your belongings and meet your host family.” I didn’t pay much attention coz I heard it was Mr. but then that name was called again. I felt so familiar with it and knew right away after that..it was me. Well, my name is Miss Nattarika, anyways :p
There, I saw one middle-aged man standing~ waiting for me. He’s my host father. He helped me carry my bags and told me loads of stuff. He told me about his name, his career and his interest. He could speak Japanese, too and of course, we talked in English. So he can speak like three languages..Awesome! We caught a train and got out at Incheon city, that’s where his house is in. When we were about to reach the house, he told me, “Oh, I live with my wife and my son. He’s about your age.” I was like, “OH?!?” Nobody told me there would be a guy at the house I’m going to stay at. Those two times I was an exchange student in Singapore and Japan, there were some rules like we mostly had to stay with girls only except the father and the little brother. But this time, my age ~ I felt a little awkward.
When the door opened, I tried to say some Korean stuff to my host mother, but she shook my hand hard and kept welcoming me with warm words, I completely forgot my own lines. Then I saw my host brother. He seemed nice and yes he was. I could take over his room and his computer. He suggested me how to do some stuff and smiled 🙂 I felt a lot better after that and took it as another new nice experience. ~ After unpacking a little, “Dinner time!!”
I went to the kitchen to help carrying some plates. Then four of us sat together at the dining table. I started to eat. The food was mostly beef and kimji. I have to admit that I didn’t like food there that much because it has no taste mostly..like not sour, spicy or anything. I also didn’t like kimji (spicy pickled cabbage) that much but after eating a lot, I got used to it a little. However, I ate so little. When finishing the meal, the son of the house went to get all of us glasses. I wondered.. coz I already got a glass of water right next to me already ~ “Why do I need one more?”
Then the mother came with a bottle of beer. The father poured in my glass as the first person.. I was confused~ didn’t know what to do and didn’t know what to say. I do not drink, I’m still not old enough to drink and I was there as an exchange student from Thailand..shouldn’t drink but won’t it be rude to deny it?! I decided to tell him that I don’t drink. He said, “I know you are underaged. Our son, too but he drinks.” I was like, “HMMM?!” I’m not sure about others in other countries and also in Thailand if they or you do that or not but I’ve seen loads of bad results after drinking it from my dad, I totally wanted to deny it. The mother tried to convince, “C’mon, Bow! Just a little, O.K?” Then the father said, “For celebration!” Their eyes were like little puppies’, u know? They really wanted me to and I know I was hurting their feelings so I said, “Yes,” at last. Then we all, “CHEERSSS!!!” I let the beer touch my lips but I didn’t open my mouth at all ~ pretended like I was drinking. When I put the glass down on the table, I licked my lips and I still didn’t like its taste that much. Five minutes later, beer in everyone’s glasses and in the bottle was gone except in mine. The mother collected plates including my glass. I thought she knew.. I felt bad ~ I then thought maybe I should try drinking it a little.
However, they treated me nice after I did that. They took me to shop, to play some sports, to eat Chinese food, to see fullhouse set and etc. The mother, son and I even cooked together. I really had a great time there. When I had to leave, I packed all the things with a few tears in my eyes.. I then thought how come they treated me so well like that although I was rude. I mean, I didn’t like host mother’s food that much. I always ate and left a lot in the dish. I didn’t drink the beer.. But I think maybe that’s how they were chosen to be a host family. They are kind, generous and adaptable.. and that’s what I like about the Korea, sweet people. Memories there make me wanna be sweet, too.. guess I need to learn to be more adaptable from now on.