September 13, 2011

Culture Shock and Moving Home

I considered not posting this, simply because it seems self indulgent and over exposed to share my feelings on my blog. However, this is part of the experience and my life here. I want to be honest, and with that comes sharing more than I might necessarily feel comfortable with.

In college I studied International Relations and International Business. They are two distinct fields, both of which hold my interest, but overlap on a number of issues. I can't begin to explain how many classes discussed culture and reentry-culture shock. Now, I have thought back to the numerous articles and conversations about it with renewed interest.

Yes, being in the States was difficult at times. I felt like I missed out on a lot of things, and I had a harder time connecting with some people in my life. At times, I wouldn't be present in conversations simply because I couldn't believe how easy it was for me to listen to everyone speaking English around me(!!!!). I'd jay-walk just because I could, then feel guilty instinctively, and look for an older women to scold me in Korean. I rode the subway in New York and felt entirely furious to discover it was only in English (there are so many people from so many places speaking so many languages and America puts ONE language in the most visited city in the country?!). The people I had the easiest time with were hands-down the ones who wrote letters, read my blog, talked with on skype. Some asked me for stories, but would interrupt me with the ending, having already read it all here. But really, that was comforting. It was nice to know people understood me and where I had been during the year away.

Now that I am back in Korea, I am experiencing a new set of difficulties. I have often said that life in Korea is just like life anywhere: I have met people so generous, kind, loving, and open. There have been moments that are impossible to beat - I have been as happy here as I have been anywhere. And yes, this is my home. This is a place that I love and appreciate for all that it is. That said, I've also been so utterly and overwhelmingly disappointed - both professionally and personally - that at times it is difficult to continue my life here, to plan another year.

In the last few weeks, I have been unhappy, and I have realized why. The entire time I was in the States, I missed Korea immensely. When I came back, however, things were different. My life here was substantially changed. I had to come to terms with the fact that the reasons I decided to sign on for another year - all the way back in April - may not exist now. There was an internship in my field promised, a great job with ideal hours, a love interest, a solid group of friends, a regular volunteer schedule, a pet, a need to explore more places, and a feeling of in-completion. So, I signed a contract. And now, months later, I was back in Korea but missing parts of the life I had before - some of that list of reasons is still legitimate, some things are entirely missing. I was nostalgic and regretting my decisions.

Then, I went on a fantastic adventure. I saw a new side of Korea and experienced the adrenaline and excitement of exploring this country again. I remembered why it made me happy and why I was committed to the next 12 months. I started working on the list of things I can't wait to do and am ready, finally, for this year.

I can't wait to upload pictures and post information all about it. I can't wait to show you the most beautiful place I've seen this year. But first, I need to write an article about it for Daegu Compass. This will be the second article I've written for them, if you remember my Geoje Island blog entry, it was featured in the August issue (which you can read online here).

For those of you who might be going through something similar, stick with it. Remember why you're here and why you need to experience the difficulties of moving to a new place.

Expect more posts very soon!

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