Reasons I Missed Home

April 20, 2017 Life, Musings 2

Spring cherry blossoms in South Korea are beautiful…and so is the road ahead.

Not book-related. Well, mostly not book-related. Just me. On all the reasons why moving home after 2 years abroad is such a huge deal. I’ve had great times in Korea…mostly related to the people I’ve met, not the place. The place has been an experience too, and one I’m very grateful to have had…but I’m a homebody. I miss MY family. I miss MY mountains. I miss MY traditions, MY food…my freedom. I’m going home to the States, but I think these feelings can apply to anyone who loves where they come from and is uprooted.

  • I miss my family. My family is nuts. But I love them, and so I miss them. I miss knowing that no matter what goes wrong, I always have a safe place to sleep. I could call my grandma, many of my aunts or uncles, if something in my life went horribly wrong…and as soon as I could get to them or them to me, I would be loved and cared for. I am so blessed. I know so many people who DON’T have that…one of my life goals is to be that place and that person for as many people as I can.
  • I miss having friends that share my interests. Over here…the Americans I hang out with think all my artsy-fartsy-ness is weird, for the most part. Occasionally I’ll get a “Oh that’s so cool I could never have the patience for that!” comment, but for the most part…I’m just the weird nerd standing in the corner while everyone else gets shit-faced drunk. But I’m also the person they call if they don’t know how to get something done. So…yeah, whatever folks. I love you guys, but I’m tired of feeling like I have to defend the things I like to do. Also, I don’t speak enough Korean to really try to find a group of same-interest folks. In the past 3 months I met a Korean that I quickly became friends with, who I share lots of interests with, and it kills me that I have to leave so soon after meeting her. One of those people that you would have done anything to meet earlier.
  • English. I.e., my native language. And my native language is one of if not the most dominant language in the world. How the HELL do people who speak a very minority language survive? Obviously, most of them learn the language of the country they live in, but…goddamn. My hat is off to all those people. I can barely speak a few phrases in Korean. When I first got here, I would get a headache every time I went out because the sheer NOISE of another language being spoken. Now it’s familiar, even if I don’t understand much of it…but I still nearly cry when I go out and someone speaks to me in English. Watch me go home and just spend 2 days bawling in the street because EVERYONE speaks English.
    • That said, this really has opened my eyes to have immigrants and other non-English speakers must feel when they come to the US or UK (or Australia?). I’ve also realized how awkward it feels to not speak the main language of the country in which you live. I see people all the time who just EXPECT South Koreans to speak English. Um, why? This is their country. They speak Korean. We are not entitled to people knowing how to speak English here (even though many do…many more than would speak Korean if they came to the US). Americans…get over it. Stop expecting the world to bow to you. I love my country just as much if not more than the average citizen, even if I admit to and see the many faults our country and government have…but I respect and admire other countries and cultures as well, and I expect that I will have to bend myself to their country when I visit, not the other way around.
  • Cultural differences. I’m all for experience another culture as much as you can. However…I have a lot of hangups when it comes to food (I’m very picky, heh). Also, the personal space bubble. This is far from being a Korea-only thing, as lots of countries and cultures have a much smaller personal bubble than Americans or maybe even other Western countries…but I get really freaked out when people stand all up on me in line, or on a train, or when in a store. It’s not rude here for people to run into you or even push you out of their way…it’s just how it is. And it drives. me. nuts. For god’s SAKE let me breathe.

Does anyone ever truly get used to a place so different from where they were born/raised/lived the majority of their lives? I wonder. I see many people here who have come from the US or the UK and made South Korea their home, and I wonder if I am just a freak or if I just missed the secret to being so happy here. I love experiencing new places and people, but in the end…I don’t belong here. I will miss some people here, very very much. I hope we can stay friends through e-mail and FB and if they ever come visit the US, they will have first dibs on my guest room or couch, whatever I can offer. But in the end, I don’t belong here. This is not my home. These 2 years have been hard. REALLY FREAKING HARD. I’ve struggled in relationships, struggled with my own depression, struggled with feeling like I was doing nothing of value. On the other hand, I have made friends that I know will remain friends no matter how many miles separate us. I have made friends that transcend time and distance, and for them I am eternally grateful – they are what has made my 2 years here worth it. No cultural “experience” can match that.

I’ve learned that making a difference in the quality of people’s lives is probably the single most important thing to me, and knowing that has driven me to make decisions I might not have otherwise had the strength to make. It takes a lot for me to make a decision. I’m not a very decisive person, but I’m hella stubborn and once I’ve made a decision…it pretty much takes hell itself to change my mind. I’m looking forward to the new changes coming, even if they may prove difficult and require some sacrifices.

I’m looking forward to being home.

2 Responses to “Reasons I Missed Home”

  1. sandyjager

    Yes, yes, and yes! Your experiences and mine of living in a different country are much the same. I spend three years giving myself “whiplash” when my head spun to see where the English was coming from. It is a weird feeling to be so isolated. Yet on the other hand, it meant that I met and spoke to people for no other reason than I could understand them. Which is hard for a shy person. As a “spouse of”, I was fortunate to be able to join a gym whose membership was primarily expats. And I found art classes in English that catered to the spouses of diplomats and other temporarily residents. These really helped give me a sense of purpose, since for me, there was no job attached. As it turned out, I was able to live a more social life while abroad, given the attaché/international community and their activities. Yet the isolation still was very real….even grocery shopping had its linguistic challenges.

    Home will be wonderful, but will also pose a few challenges getting reintegrated. Things will not be as you remember them (this is even more true if you haven’t visited, as we didn’t), some things won’t be done the same way and you’ll get raised eyebrows. It will take time. We’re still a bit culturally challenged here at home, even at almost three years. Remember that as it took time to become accustomed to Korea, there will be adjustments on the return home. This is the part no one talks about.

    • Lizzy

      SO much this. I wish my husband had been able to find more ways to connect here, but it just didn’t work out for him. Not having a “real” job really bothered him!

      I am very excited (obviously) to return home…but I am trying not to have overly high expectations. Thanks for the reminder and the voice from the other side! I’m sure I will have lots to say about it once we are home and especially after our leave is over and we are trying to settle into a new place (for 6 months…sigh). Hehe.

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