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.