For four years, I’ve been the only Browne in Korea. It was a great novelty back home, “Shauna, the one in Korea”. I had a monopoly on this country. It distinguished me from my older sister ( “the one in Spain”) and my younger sister ( “the one in college”). Such distinctions are extremely important.
Now, in exactly 2 weeks, my sister and her partner are moving here. She took my friend’s job and coincidentally her apartment will be literally a 30 second walk from my one. So many thoughts come to my mind, most of them purely selfish of course and I wonder if all expats feel like this when a family member comes to live in their country.
I literally spent all four years telling her that she should move here but it wasn’t until she finally came on a summer holiday that she saw that we were in no danger from the dreaded North, the food was edible and although the people don’t speak English and there are oh so many of them, we all still manage to hang out and have a great time. Also, on the plus side we have phones that she’s never even heard of, internet that’s so fast you wonder why someone would live anywhere else and a transport system that is extraordinarily efficient. So Korea is a natural choice.
But, one little part of me is thinking “really, you couldn’t just pick a different country?” It’s going to confuse everything. “Shauna, the one in Korea or is that Majella that’s in Korea. But aren’t they both in Korea now”? She’s already friended some of my friends on Facebook. I’m sure there’s some etiquette law against that sort of thing. Really? You stole my country, now you’re reigning in on my friends!? It’s almost like this is one of those ready made lives. A great job in a great school she knows she won’t have any problems with, a great apartment, a sister who already knows the area, already has the contacts and has already made friends that you can be introduced to. When I think back to my first time coming here, like all my friends, we did it on our own so in some ways, I find this to be the height of cheating although if I were her, I’d probably be moving to Korea now too. I know a few people with siblings here in Korea and I wonder if all of them think the same thing or is it just me.
Then there’s her partner. He’s Spanish and although they’ve been going out for years, I’ve only ever seen him about 3 times. The only Spanish I know is Hola and a few other random phrases I learned from Dora the explorer so Skyping is like speaking to the U.N. I say something. My sister translates it and then translates his response. Recently though, he’s learned English so this will be the chance to actually get to know him.
When people ask me if I’m excited for her to come, I’m fairly slow to respond. When we were young, fighting was something we were champions at. Obviously we’ve grown up now but we still manage to have blazing rows over What’s App. Sending each other messages in CAPITAL LETTERS to make a point. And a few times, we’ve had to cut off Skype because we will have gotten into a fight and hanging up is the only option since we can’t just hit each other.
So, with her living next door, I wonder how our relationship will develop. Since I moved to Korea, we’ve stayed close enough but I wonder how it’s all going to go. Will she look to me for advice or will it be the other way around since I’ve been here longer. Will she be my left arm or will she branch out and do her own thing and get her own hobbies etc? So many questions that only time will answer.
Of course, after it’s all said and done, I am delighted that she’s coming here. She is my sister after all. Stay tuned to this blog for more on what happened after she arrives.