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Lifers and ESL long-timers...how do you do it back home?
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ArgentineDreams



Joined: 09 Sep 2011

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:26 pm    Post subject: Lifers and ESL long-timers...how do you do it back home? Reply with quote

I just got back from Korea after an amazing year, and even though I am only visiting home for a month, I am finding it difficult to be with my old friends and family.

SO my question is; how do you lifers, and ESL long timers do it on vacations back home, or while visiting friends/ family who have no similar experiences and very little left in common?
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ttompatz



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Location: Kwangju, South Korea

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Lifers and ESL long-timers...how do you do it back home? Reply with quote

ArgentineDreams wrote:
I just got back from Korea after an amazing year, and even though I am only visiting home for a month, I am finding it difficult to be with my old friends and family.

SO my question is; how do you lifers, and ESL long timers do it on vacations back home, or while visiting friends/ family who have no similar experiences and very little left in common?


Age, experience and the wisdom to know and understand that the folks back home will have NO understanding (or real interest) in what it is like to live as an expat abroad.

While they may have a superficial interest in your stories about having a beer in Itaewon, popping down to HongKong for a weekend, over to Osaka for a quick visa run and 2 weeks on the beach in Bali or Phuket they really are more interested in the local politics, local gossip and what happened on the 6 o'clock news. They mostly can't relate.

ADD to that the simple fact that your horizon has moved from main street to something a bit more global (at least in your own eyes).

Vacations home; you are changed. Just enjoy them for what they are - a chance to meet family and old friends. Enjoy the dinner, TV and trips to the mall or Wallmart. In 30 days you will be gone again, they will go back to doing what they always do and you will be "living the exotic life" in that far flung place across the sea.

.
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northway



Joined: 05 Jul 2010

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Lifers and ESL long-timers...how do you do it back home? Reply with quote

ttompatz wrote:
ArgentineDreams wrote:
I just got back from Korea after an amazing year, and even though I am only visiting home for a month, I am finding it difficult to be with my old friends and family.

SO my question is; how do you lifers, and ESL long timers do it on vacations back home, or while visiting friends/ family who have no similar experiences and very little left in common?


Age, experience and the wisdom to know and understand that the folks back home will have NO understanding (or real interest) in what it is like to live as an expat abroad.

While they may have a superficial interest in your stories about having a beer in Itaewon, popping down to HongKong for a weekend, over to Osaka for a quick visa run and 2 weeks on the beach in Bali or Phuket they really are more interested in the local politics, local gossip and what happened on the 6 o'clock news. They mostly can't relate.

ADD to that the simple fact that your horizon has moved from main street to something a bit more global (at least in your own eyes).

Vacations home; you are changed. Just enjoy them for what they are - a chance to meet family and old friends. Enjoy the dinner, TV and trips to the mall or Wallmart. In 30 days you will be gone again, they will go back to doing what they always do and you will be "living the exotic life" in that far flung place across the sea.

.


Alternatively, you could associate with interesting, open-minded individuals who have global experience themselves.
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markness



Joined: 02 Jan 2013

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:40 pm    Post subject: Re: Lifers and ESL long-timers...how do you do it back home? Reply with quote

northway wrote:
ttompatz wrote:
ArgentineDreams wrote:
I just got back from Korea after an amazing year, and even though I am only visiting home for a month, I am finding it difficult to be with my old friends and family.

SO my question is; how do you lifers, and ESL long timers do it on vacations back home, or while visiting friends/ family who have no similar experiences and very little left in common?


Age, experience and the wisdom to know and understand that the folks back home will have NO understanding (or real interest) in what it is like to live as an expat abroad.

While they may have a superficial interest in your stories about having a beer in Itaewon, popping down to HongKong for a weekend, over to Osaka for a quick visa run and 2 weeks on the beach in Bali or Phuket they really are more interested in the local politics, local gossip and what happened on the 6 o'clock news. They mostly can't relate.

ADD to that the simple fact that your horizon has moved from main street to something a bit more global (at least in your own eyes).

Vacations home; you are changed. Just enjoy them for what they are - a chance to meet family and old friends. Enjoy the dinner, TV and trips to the mall or Wallmart. In 30 days you will be gone again, they will go back to doing what they always do and you will be "living the exotic life" in that far flung place across the sea.

.


Alternatively, you could associate with interesting, open-minded individuals who have global experience themselves.


They don't exist at home, and they hardly exist abroad. Too many mercenaries I find, not enough people with passion for the experience.
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northway



Joined: 05 Jul 2010

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Lifers and ESL long-timers...how do you do it back home? Reply with quote

markness wrote:
They don't exist at home, and they hardly exist abroad. Too many mercenaries I find, not enough people with passion for the experience.


Here is a case of class rearing it's ugly head. I meet tons of these people, but they mostly benefit from the luxury of opportunity.
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markness



Joined: 02 Jan 2013

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tons of people like me? Or tons of open-minded people? I wouldn't doubt that there are a ton of open-minded people in Korea or in the USA, or in Canada or the UK or whatever, but in general they are usually in found in places like Thailand or Indonesia. Like I said, most of the people I met at home were all about the money, even if they were artsy fartsy students, or engineers or ESL teachers.
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KimchiNinja



Joined: 01 May 2012
Location: Gangnam

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Lifers and ESL long-timers...how do you do it back home? Reply with quote

ttompatz wrote:
Age, experience and the wisdom to know and understand that the folks back home will have NO understanding (or real interest) in what it is like to live as an expat abroad.

While they may have a superficial interest in your stories about having a beer in Itaewon, popping down to HongKong for a weekend, over to Osaka for a quick visa run and 2 weeks on the beach in Bali or Phuket they really are more interested in the local politics, local gossip and what happened on the 6 o'clock news. They mostly can't relate.

ADD to that the simple fact that your horizon has moved from main street to something a bit more global.


Very well put. I'm back in the states right now for a couple weeks. People here are locked into their bubble, just like Koreans. They have no real understanding of the world, or perspective on their own culture, or interest, or curiosity. Actually most people don't know that their culture exists, they think its the only way there is, as opposed to one way.

Anyhow, reverse culture shock! I never watch TV but checked out the cable in the hotel for kicks. It blew mind; crude vulgar fat people saying nonstop disgusting disrespectful things in a manic state on every channel. Every commercial selling hamburgers and drugs or products to reverse the damage done by a life of hamburgers and drugs LOL. Facepalm.

But yeah, it requires the wisdom to accept that any perspective you have acquired can any be communicated to people who already get it.
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drkalbi



Joined: 06 Aug 2006

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lots of alcohol Very Happy
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swashbuckler



Joined: 20 Nov 2010

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Lifers and ESL long-timers...how do you do it back home? Reply with quote

KimchiNinja wrote:

Very well put. I'm back in the states right now for a couple weeks. People here are locked into their bubble, just like Koreans. They have no real understanding of the world, or perspective on their own culture, or interest, or curiosity. Actually most people don't know that their culture exists, they think its the only way there is, as opposed to one way.


Doesn't that really depend on the people you choose to socialize with back home? For example, if your friends/family all had PhDs in cultural anthropology, or were all former English teachers abroad, or were recent immigrants, would you really be dismissing them all as 'locked in their bubbles'?
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EZE



Joined: 05 May 2012

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To me, a year is like nothing, so I haven't ever noticed anything different when I have returned home. I think there are several factors that make me feel at home when I am home.

1. I stay in touch with my family, friends, and girlfriends on Skype, facebook, and e-mail.

2. Since I do most my own cooking, I'm still eating a foreign diet. When I go home, I won't freak out because my mother doesn't cook pork or when the restaurants my friends want to go to don't have kimchi as a side dish. I don't make the effort to eat Korean food every meal the way some expats do.

3. I still keep up with the sports, the politics, the economy, the music and many other topics that have to do with my homeland. When my family and friends talk about these things, I can keep up with the conversation and enjoy it. Plus, it's always good to reminisce or laugh about things from the distant past. Not every conversation has to be current.

I like Korean food, I love Korean beer, I enjoy K-pop, and most of all I like to hang out with a couple of my Korean friends. However, doing one through three above makes it feel like I never left home when I arrive there.
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World Traveler



Joined: 29 May 2009

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally love the United States. There are loads of great people there, immigrant and native born alike. The really good thing about the U.S. is that as the world's richest country it offers many options for things to do (and things to buy). The biggest pro though is that people speak English, so you can have a deep conversation and connection with the general populace. 300+ million people live there. If you can't connect with people there and it bums you out, look in the mirror and think about what you can do to make people (in general) want to talk to you and associate with you (so you can afford to have standards).
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northway



Joined: 05 Jul 2010

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:18 am    Post subject: Re: Lifers and ESL long-timers...how do you do it back home? Reply with quote

swashbuckler wrote:
KimchiNinja wrote:

Very well put. I'm back in the states right now for a couple weeks. People here are locked into their bubble, just like Koreans. They have no real understanding of the world, or perspective on their own culture, or interest, or curiosity. Actually most people don't know that their culture exists, they think its the only way there is, as opposed to one way.


Doesn't that really depend on the people you choose to socialize with back home? For example, if your friends/family all had PhDs in cultural anthropology, or were all former English teachers abroad, or were recent immigrants, would you really be dismissing them all as 'locked in their bubbles'?


Right. The people I hang out with are mostly immigrants or the children of immigrants, have traveled extensively, attended good schools and/or possess advanced degrees, have embarked on varied and interesting careers, and are generally pretty worldly. On the whole they're a lot more interesting - and worldly - than many of the aimless wanderers I encountered within Korea's foreign population. If you end up hanging out with old white Republicans, that's your bad.
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freshking



Joined: 07 Dec 2006

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just relax, hang out with your friends and have a good time. Don't tell too many stories about living in Korea, or about how this or that is different in Korea than at home. Your friends won't care or may be a bit jealous if they haven't traveled much.
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I'm With You



Joined: 01 Sep 2011

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:40 am    Post subject: Re: Lifers and ESL long-timers...how do you do it back home? Reply with quote

KimchiNinja wrote:
ttompatz wrote:
Age, experience and the wisdom to know and understand that the folks back home will have NO understanding (or real interest) in what it is like to live as an expat abroad.

While they may have a superficial interest in your stories about having a beer in Itaewon, popping down to HongKong for a weekend, over to Osaka for a quick visa run and 2 weeks on the beach in Bali or Phuket they really are more interested in the local politics, local gossip and what happened on the 6 o'clock news. They mostly can't relate.

ADD to that the simple fact that your horizon has moved from main street to something a bit more global.


Very well put. I'm back in the states right now for a couple weeks. People here are locked into their bubble, just like Koreans. They have no real understanding of the world, or perspective on their own culture, or interest, or curiosity. Actually most people don't know that their culture exists, they think its the only way there is, as opposed to one way.

Anyhow, reverse culture shock! I never watch TV but checked out the cable in the hotel for kicks. It blew mind; crude vulgar fat people saying nonstop disgusting disrespectful things in a manic state on every channel. Every commercial selling hamburgers and drugs or products to reverse the damage done by a life of hamburgers and drugs LOL. Facepalm.

But yeah, it requires the wisdom to accept that any perspective you have acquired can any be communicated to people who already get it.


After a number of years living and working overseas, many people find that they don't really belong anywhere - citizen of the world!

On one hand, we can't ever truly assimilate and belong to the culture here. On the other, many long-term expats eventually come to the realization that they don't really fit back home anymore, either. Old friends move on, family aren't all that interested and older relatives die.

Eventually after years of living and working abroad many of us end up existing in a kind of "no man's land."
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hiamnotcool



Joined: 06 Feb 2012

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I realize there isn't anything special about me, I'm just a person that likes traveling. The more I have traveled the less "worldly" I have become. While you live in Korea try to meet some Korean people that have the same interests as you. Find some local people to watch sports with, talk to about music, discuss politics. It's good to have friends that can help you to understand the culture and everything, but sometimes the best way to get a feel for how things work in a foreign place is to interact with people the same way you would back home. Once you learn how to do that in one country, you will be able to do it anywhere - including your home country. I think doing this has helped me stay down to earth and resist the attitude that I'm special because I've hopped a few flights around the world. Try not to be the first person to bring up traveling in a conversation.

Some of the most insightful people I have met in other countries barely ever left their hometown. The same applies to the USA. And then some of the most arrogant and intolerant people I have met have traveled extensively.
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