This post was originally drafted in June. I’m posting it now (October) since it gives you a snap shot of where I was at this point in life. I will definitely post an update soon as there is a lot more to tell! Thanks for waiting!
If I didn’t speak Korean before, I certainly do now. Our au pair from Korea has been here for two weeks, and I’ve been speaking 100% Korean with her. How good was my Korean before? Pretty rusty. I could order comfortably in a restaurant, get my hair cut and even permed (yes, I used to perm my hair – but not like old school tight curl perm from the 80s but volume-making soft waves) to my liking. I could even navigate a taxi driver in Seoul.
So, since our au pair has been here, I’ve been speaking a whole lot of Korean. She asked if I could speak Korean with her until she feels more comfortable here in Germany. I agreed that I would for the first month to help her settle in and help her have a smooth transition, but I also made clear that from the second month onwards, it would be better if we spoke German. She came to Germany, after all, to improve her German.
This is pretty exhausting for me though since I’m speaking 100 times more Korean with her in one day than I would in a year. I even made the effort to watch a Korean drama to get into the zone and refresh my latent skills before she arrived. I think the only thing it did though was compound my sleep deprivation. (I swear that these dramas are a hazard to the health!!) I don’t think it helped much.
I can see that it is an overwhelming experience for our au pair to be here. This is her first time overseas and watching her now really punctuates how different Korea is from Germany. It’s stuff like how much make-up she wears in order to have a ghostly white complexion that Asian women want to have compared to the no make-up that most German women wear. Or her silence at the dinner table while the rest of us chaotically chatter about.
Luckily she seems to be flexible with food. It seems like you can try a greater variety of food in Korean now compared to twenty years ago. Spaghetti and waffles, for example, have been no problem. But, like I said in my previous post, while she is open to try different things, she’s still a typical Korean. She can’t go too long without her frequent rice or ramyun fix.