When Seoul Meets Indiana

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My boyfriend doesn’t really like for me to show pictures of him or mention his actual name in my blog and I am mostly very good about not putting to much of him in here.  I couldn’t help it with this picture because it is one of my favorites.  I thought it was ok to use because you can’t really see his face all that well 😉  I took this when my two boys were taking a nap one afternoon.  What starts out as a forced cuddle, meaning Chester is held against his will, usually turns into something very sweet and very adorable.  Chester never lets me do this, but then again I never force him to stay with me when he tries to wriggle away.

K is my first boyfriend.  We’ve been together nearly 6 years now and it’s been quite a time, to say the least.  I went into this relationship, naively, thinking that it would be easy.  I’ve come to understand that any relationship worth keeping is going to need to be worked for and worked on.  As a couple, we’ve had disagreements and sometimes outright arguments because that just happens sometimes, like it does with every couple.  Sometimes we annoy each other, like I do with my song parodies that mostly involve cats, or he does when he has a man cold.  These are normal aspects of any relationship.

Me, my sister, my nephew, and my dad going for a ride around the farm
Me, my sister, my nephew, and my dad going for a ride around the farm

Perhaps what was most difficult about our relationship is the cultural and lifestyle differences.  As many of you might know, my boyfriend is from Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea.  Yes, his family lives in Gangnam 😉  He is a city boy through and through.  I’m the exact opposite.  I came from rural, southern Indiana.  The city I grew up in and went to school in has around 5,000 people.  My dad is a farmer, so I know a thing or two about country life.  We are from completely opposite worlds, we grew up speaking different languages, eating different foods, experiencing different things in pop culture.  The list goes on and on.  It is sometimes strange to me that we crossed paths at all.

I’m going to try to explain some of the things I’ve noticed between us over the years.  These are completely random.

Over the past 6 years that I’ve known him, his English language skills have really improved, but mostly because we are always together and I unfortunately don’t speak Korean well at all.  Going into this relationship, nothing about the way he spoke English bothered me.  I respected and still do respect him for being brave enough to move to a country totally new to him and learn a language that was so dissimilar from his native Korean.

I will be honest, sometimes we have miscommunications.  Perhaps the thing I notice most is when I ask a question and it goes unanswered or I am given the wrong answer, or maybe I say something too quickly and he doesn’t quite catch it, or when I mention a pop culture reference that most any American would get and he has no idea what I’m talking about.  It also goes the other way around.  Sometimes he will say something and I don’t get his meaning or can’t quite hear what he is saying.  I sometimes drop elements from sentences because I’ve just adapted my speaking style over time to match his.  I will, for instance, say, “I want to go” instead of “I want to go there,” or “I’m going to take shower” instead of “I’m going to take a shower.”  Just things like that I’ve noticed.  He does that with me too.  He’ll say, “you know what I’m sayin” in this really hilarious, suave way in which he is mimicking how I say it 😉

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I never realized how gross it is to wear shoes in the house until I met K.  It seemed totally fine to me before, but now I can’t help but think about all the things I’ve stepped on throughout the day being tracked around on my carpets.  Keep in mind, I have OCD, so this thought is a little more overwhelming to me than to most people probably.  Since we moved in together, I have very rarely walked in the house with shoes on.

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I love the little things that he brings back from Korea that I’ve never seen before.  We are constantly learning new things about each other’s  culture simply by explaining things that the other doesn’t know much about.  I kept finding these types of things (like the picture above I mean) all over his apartment when we first started dating.  I had a definite, “What the heck is that” moment.  I am going to be honest.  I still don’t know what it is.  I have tried to have him explain it a million times.  I’ve gotten that it’s either a) for moisture collection, or b) traps some kind of bug that supposedly lives in clothes, which may or may not be, but I definitely hope, is a dust mite.  I don’t know what it’s for, but it’s something I’ve never seen before.  From the looks of it, this one needs to be tossed 😉  If he ever wants to know something about tools, equipment, animals, or something outdoorsy, I can usually give him an explanation.  He’s much more up on technology than I am.  We compliment each other on things like that.

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Rice.  I have never eaten so much of this little grain in my life until I started dating K.  I can honestly say, I go through periods of time when I can’t stand to eat rice and other times it’s totally fine.  I think it’s definitely one of those things that you’ve just had to grow up with for it to not get old to you quickly.  We eat rice so often that we’ve gone through 3 rice cookers.  The one above is our latest and we got it from H-Mart, a huge Korean supermarket that is usually located in big cities.  Yes, you can buy a cheap little rice cooker at American supermarkets, but they are nothing like one that’s made in places like Japan or Korea.  I’ve seen them for upwards of $500.  They pressure cook the rice or something fancy.  I never knew how much of a staple rice was in the Korean diet until I started dating K.

I could honestly go on and on and on about the things that intrigue me about our international relationship, but I can’t type much more.  My hands are already typed-out from a day of computer work.  The point is, to me anyway, love occurs when we least expect it 🙂  As cliche as that might sound, I think it couldn’t be truer.  I’m just glad I found love in this lifetime and hope the same for you all as well.  I enjoy and appreciate our differences 🙂

 

This is a very long post, but I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Thank you for reading!

megan

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80 thoughts on “When Seoul Meets Indiana

  1. I can understand his worries about his image on the Internet – Asian people can be really, really, REALLY mean to each other, dig out things, it’s not really a safe place 🙂 I’ve been thru same things you did, including changing my English – in Chinese he and she is ‘ta’ just different sign so my husband talks about our landlord and say ‘she’ when it’s a guy or even thought he graduated from 2 American schools and studied in Australia he likes to use Chinese grammar in English so it ends up as ‘I hungry’ 😀 what kind of rice do you use? I recently seen a korean rice in our chinese mall, it was cheaper than thai or chinese rice and when I asked my husband what’s the difference he said korean is shorter – as you can see I don’t see a difference between this and that rice 🙂 I wish you very best together! and both of your men are lovely 🙂

    1. Thank you!

      He is mostly worried about his professional image being ruined 😉 He’s very worried about his professors and colleagues finding things about him online. We use Korean rice 🙂 Sometime we use brown rice or white rice, but we almost always put the organic grain mixture in with it, which has beans and legumes mixed in. I love the beans 😉 It’s funny because here the Korean rice is more expensive.

      1. He is awesome. I also do not believe that half of the people who say they are allergic are actually lying or stretching the truth.. lol.

  2. I love hearing about your life. I think it shows your strength that you are able to explain things so clearly without rambling. It is nice to know that two people from totally opposite cultures can find each other and fall in love. I am glad he is back because I know how much you missed him. Have a good week. 🙂

    1. That’s so kind of you 🙂 I am always thankful for your support. Sometimes I do think that I ramble, but it’s good to hear it from you that it does not sounds like rambling. This was a long post, I know, but I’m glad it makes sense 🙂

  3. This was very entertaining. My boyf and I have similar things, especially slang terms and pop culture and we are only Irish/Oz. I can only imagine all the cool stuff you’re learning about Korean culture. I think anyone in an international relationship gets to learn so much. And of course you have somewhere cool to go on holidays for free 🙂

    1. Very true 🙂 It’s definitely a learning experience. I didn’t know much at all about Korea before we met and now I’m basically an expert 😉 I hope to travel there sometime in the near future!

  4. Your relationship is unique in that you guys will continuously learn new things about each other which rocks! Just for the record, I hate wearing shoes in the house for cleanliness purposes and because it is just uncomfortable for me (I need my feet to be as cool as ;possible – hot flash issues, lol), anyway, the post was very interesting, great job! 🙂

    1. This definitely makes sense. For different reasons, I don’t like wearing tennis shoes all that often. They feel so suffocating. I’m dreading the day that summer ends and I have to wear actual shoes again 😉

  5. I’m a Communications major, so I absolutely love studying the concepts of Interpersonal and Intercultural Communications. Your relationship seems so interesting!

  6. Lovely! The photo of K and the cat snuggling is very cute. It’s funny because I am the opposite and can’t imagine ever going barefoot anywhere. It weirds me out to have to take off my shoes but I have a bit of a foot phobia!

  7. Love the picture and your honest observations about relationships. My other half and I have been together 28 years now with PLENTY of ups and downs – but no-one understands me like he does and that’s worth a lot 🙂

    1. It sounds like you have a loving relationship with your spouse. What I find most rewarding about our relationship is that it’s beyond boyfriend/girlfriend and is more of a companionship. I’m sure the same goes for you and your partner 🙂

  8. The picture is so sweet and adorable, just like he has a baby in his arms 🙂 I think there’s always a little miscommunication between man and women..MOL 😀 Pawkisses for a Happy Thursday 🙂

  9. The photo is delightful. International relationships require a great deal of hard work and compromise but, when each person is aware of that, the relationship is mostly very successful.

    1. It’s a very cute picture 🙂 It definitely has taken a lot of work to get to where we are now. Not every moment has been joyous or at all easy, but we’re happier than ever 🙂

  10. Every night, I do the forced cuddles with my cat. Sometimes he stays and ends up sleeping there the whole night but sometimes he jumps off the first chance he gets. He is very moody. 🙂

    1. This sounds exactly like K and Chester 🙂 Forced cuddles ofter turn into sleepy time, but sometimes he waits for just the right moment when the grip is loosed and he breaks free 😉

  11. i loved this post because i can relate so much x’D
    international relationships are so hard yet so fun!. my ex-boyfriend was japanese, born and raised in huge busy full Tokyo. and me, from small, urban but still very rural Monterrey Mexico.
    It was complicated but it was really fun!

    ps: oh the rice thing! rice everyday! i love japanese food but sometimes i was like “can we just get a pizza!?” hahaha

  12. For being your first boyfriend, 6 years is quite an accomplishment. That alone tells me that you are not a quitter. That’s a great quality to have. H-Mart is an excellent place to shop and their rice is much cheaper than at “American” stores. My husband could eat rice every day. I’m like you though; some days it tastes wonderful and other days I don’t even want to look at it.

    1. 🙂 H-Mart has great prices, much cheaper than the Asian markets we have here. They actually get everything from H-Mart and then jack up the prices. 6 years is a long time and sometimes it feels like no time at all 🙂

  13. Having grown up in Korea, I LOVED this post! I speak minimal Korean–it was much better when I was 18, but a few years away will destroy that skill! I completely understand the Korean mindset about the shoes, the good rice cookers and the H-Mart… Great post!

  14. oh what a nice post 🙂 nice to hear you’ve worked through your ups and downs 🙂 how about family? his family ? I am lucky with my boyfriend his family have been in aus for 30+ years so they are accepting of western culture to an extent but are still very much korean in culture.
    Btw i love how you can write your english name in korean ^_^ its so cool…

    1. His family is not that accepting of me. There have been so many arguments about our relationship, but I’ve kind of given up on worrying about it. My family loves him like their own 🙂 One day I hope his can feel the same way. I learned Hangul in like a day! I can read it fine and know many words, but I’m by no means a speaker or even reader of the language 🙂

      1. Oh no so they are very traditional, just glad you two have pulled together through that 🙂 yes hangul is very simple which I was so glad. My bf actually cant read or write I can but I cant speak and obviously he is fluent. But im learning for my son 🙂

      2. Yeah I do too.. but as I am a mix I dont want to over load him with languages Im thinking only korean and english for now. I speak to him in the little korean I know and his 할머니 and 할아버지 always speak to him in korean so I think he will definatly pick it up quickly.

        And btw I know what you mean about the pictures, my bf hates them up or his name said too he’s born here.

        Are you thinking about kids? They would look adorable.

      3. Maybe one day. I’m really not one for kids and I don’t feel like I have that motherly instinct, but I’m still young and there’s no telling what the future holds.

  15. It’s interesting that I read a comment about rambling and worrying about that. Not once in the course of the entries I’ve read today did I think you were rambling.
    I’m a Hoosier as well but I live in the city…..hate every single moment of it. I also have OCD but it’s mostly about dirty things. If my kitchen counter has crumbs on it I can’t seem to handle it. If I feel the restroom is dirty I’ll use it with the lights out because I just can’t do it. I can’t see it and have the image of a spot of soap scum plague my mind. It’s not just other people’s dirt I’m afraid of, it’s mine too. OCD is a constant war on the mind and it wears away at the quality of life. I’ve gotten better over the years, I really have.
    This comment is super long and I’m sorry but I want to add this last part about babies being cute little petri dishes. I was at the store and ran into friends who had their newborn with them. They asked if I wanted to hold her and reached out to put the baby in my arms. I literally ran from a baby. I laugh now but at the time I was humiliated. This experience was maybe 7 or 8 yrs ago. Just one month ago I met a family and asked to hold their little one. They said she never lets anyone hold her. I’m the first person to hold this one year old who looked me dead in my eyes and then explored my face with curiosity. I handed her diapered self back and thought nothing about cross contamination or anything like it. Things change, for whatever reason, things change. OCD is no different.
    Wonderful blog.
    Faith

    1. Not long at all 🙂 Do you still live in Indiana? I can honestly say there’s nothing keeping me here except my boyfriend. If I had the chance to move someday I would. I would love to move to Virginia 🙂
      Anyway, I too have issues with crumbs on the counter or “sand” on the floor. Of course it’s not really sand, but I can’t stand the feeling of debris on the floor. I’m always cleaning the counters and my bf is always making them messy 🙂
      Congrats to you for holding the baby! I’ll hold a newborn, but not a toddler.

  16. I completely love your blog! I haven’t had the time to blog stalk you like I would love to do, but I truly find inspiration and happy moments in every post I’ve had the time to read. I love the explanation for the moisture, clothes, dust mite eater thingy! That is too funny/ too cute. I continuously wish you guys the best, and I’m so happy that someone, namely you, actually takes to time to realize that relationships do take work, yet are so much easier and more beautiful when you both learn to speak each others language —and I don’t mean necessarily with word!
    E.E.

    1. Thank you E.E 🙂 It hasn’t always been easy between us, but we are in a loving, comforting place in our relationship now. I appreciate that you recognize that. Very beautifully put. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote about the dust mite thing, but I’m going to have to look! Sometimes I say the darndest things.

  17. Thank you for liking my Afternoon in the Gallery post, not just because that story is important to me but because your ‘like’ brought me to your blog. This piece is a wonderful study on the give and take of human relationships. I like the open way you share your stories. The world needs good story tellers because by telling our story we often bring insight and comfort to others.

    Also I have a niece with OCD, she’s very special to me and just the intro to your blog is a wonderful personal perspective. I’ve read a lot of literature written by ‘professionals’ but nobody knows OCD as well as someone who lives it. I look forward to following your blog. 🙂

    1. I’d like to think of myself as a storyteller or a writer, but I’m just a regular gal writing my frustrations out on my computer 🙂 Your appreciation certainly is humbling. I am trying my best to be honest and open because I’ve spent so much time trying to be someone I’m not. It’s relieving to be able to open up like this 🙂

  18. I love your blog and can relate to so many different aspects of it! I’m glad you found me first.

    First, I am so happy for you and K. I am hoping that my second boyfriend (also Korean), and I will be able to work out our differences. I mean, be being a better person will have a lot to do with it!

    I don’t have OCD, but I am very anal about everything, being a Virgo. My furniture has to be on the lines on my floor in a certain way, and I keep everything squeaky clean. I also have a short temper and snap quickly, as you mentioned else where, due to even small miscommunications that aren’t anyone’s fault. Oh, language barriers! And cultural ones… >.<

    I have been living with Honey off and on (he stays with me when he's not traveling or in school), and I always get anxious when he's away and about to come back. I worry about a million things and get angry at him in advance. Thankfully, he's good at calming me down. I really loved your post, International Dating!

    Anyway, I also love Etude House and am from Texas, not quite the midwest but still not anything like South Korea! Love your blog and will keep reading~

    1. Oh. My. Gosh. Thank you for reminding about this post! I forgot I even wrote it and I just re-read it and love it so much. I think I’m going to have to write a second edition 🙂
      I can tell you that dating is difficult, but international dating is REALLY difficult. We’ve had so many very difficult, challenging, and almost relationship-ending times, but somehow we made it through and at this moment, we are totally happy and content with each other. You have to know when enough is enough in a relationship, but I think international relationships are especially difficult. There is a lot of miscommunication and misunderstandings, which leads to a lot of hurt feelings. I understand the struggles you may be going through. Sometimes I’m not the best me and I can be a total grouch. Living with K means he sees every aspect of the real me (and me him). I don’t pretend to hide some of my disgustingness and weirdness anymore 😉
      I’m so glad you stopped by and very happy to have found you out in the abyss 🙂

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