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Reverse Culture Shock
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william beckerson
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 12:18 am    Post subject: Reverse Culture Shock Reply with quote

This has been discussed in another thread.

But, I just got home and everything here is weird. The people are big, goofy and obsessed with stupic crap. The streets are too big and nothing is open at night. Not to mention things are closed when they should be open!

I want to leave this place and return to my real home!

Anyone else ever have the same problem?
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Ya-ta Boy



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah.

When I was home I found it was irritating to suddenly understand scraps of conversation from people at other tables. No one handed me anything with two hands. No one cared if my glass was empty. There were very few women dressed like fashion models. I was suddenly just one of the crowd and I didn't like the anonymity: I missed standing out. (That was a surprise.) No one ever bowed to me.
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weatherman



Joined: 14 Jan 2003
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

william my man, what are you waiting for, come on back!
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denz



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Location: soapland. alternatively - the school of rock!

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 1:29 am    Post subject: yesh well Reply with quote

ya-ta, that's got be the thing that annoyed me most, too.

i was recently back in oz and i found the whole information thing overwhelming. the ability to understand the radio show in a cafe, and all the people talking at the other tables about tv shows i didn't know about. advertisements, menus. everything understandable. more than once i thought 'ach, shut up'. (i am the freakiest waeguk). but the best part, as i have told will already, was turning up in the center of one of oz's larger cities, and walking to the street to find a cab at 11pm. and finding nothing. no people, no cars, nothing. it was just like that times square scene in vanilla sky. except i lack tom's boyish good looks. i liked the anonymity though. don't want to turn into a charisma man just yet.

now that i am back, i've noticed there is a buzz in seoul that isn't the least bit overwhelming. i can read and understand a modicum of korean, but if i choose to ignore it. i can. advertising, conversations, music , it all washes over me. gives me time to think about... well... me. i am enjoying it whilst it lasts.

what i did enjoy in oz was telling people what i want and getting what i want with minimal effort. man, i loved that. oh and the produce, the food, the air... ;)

denz
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Corporal



Joined: 25 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 2:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back in Canada I couldn't stop thinking...wow there are a lot of foreigners here...ooh lookit all the pretty blond people...but yeah, people did seem kinda hefty. I wasn't looking at guys going, I could kick his ass, his ass and I could DEFINITELY kick HIS ass--like I normally do when I'm here.
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justagirl



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Location: Cheonan/Portland

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 3:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last year when I went home, I went into the Super Walmart....as I walked up and down the aisles I was fascinated to see the new products that had come out. (colored ketchup, blue and pink squeezable butter, flavored apple sauces...)

However, one things literally made me stop and stare: An entire aisle of barbeque sauce! Oh migod! 30 different flavors, 14 different brands, 5 shelves, 15 feet long each. I actually started to laugh. It was so absurd to imagine the people who came to that aisle and picked one of a hundred different barbeque sauces.

Nice things about reverse culture shock??? The open space. My peripheral vision doubled after leaving Korea. No more high-rise apartments, no mountains, no smog. I could actually see the horizon and it was literally a weight off my shoulders as soon as we started driving home from the airport and I looked out the window.

It's been a year since I've been home and I'm on my way again next week. Woo-hoo! Come on, reverse culture-shock, do your worse! Give me Taco Bell and horizons. Give me a car to drive and nice, wide roads. Give me people who can carry an intellectual conversation in English. Give me 3 months of rest so I can come back to Korea for yet another year!

ej
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antiamerican



Joined: 29 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

William, glad you made it safe and sound. Relax. I went through a lot of doubts back home, but with the way things are, take a break anyway.

Korea might still be here. Other parts of Asia beckon. The West might be what you need.
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gomurr



Joined: 04 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I kind of understand the feeling. I felt a little out of place for the first couple on months. The biggest problem was that no one could relate to what I had seen and experienced. I also felt out of the loop as if my time in korea had taken no time at all and back home had passed me by. fashion, music and books were all different. I was glad to be home in order to actually watch and play a good game of hockey. I'm still in Korea now for another 15 months and then that's it, my wife hates it here. It will be good to go to a country where people won't stare at me, push there way past me in a line, regularily puke or piss in the streets, spit whenever and where ever they want. But most of all go to a home where there is space and beauty. I'm tired of looking at ugly roach invested, fire trap buildings and mountains that don't have alot of natural wildlife. Yeah, i know the taxes will be a b***ch but it sure beats here.
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Dan



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Sunny Glendale, CA

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

when i first got to korea, everybody assumed i could speak korean, which i couldn't. when i went to the US, everybody assumed I didn't understand anything, so would treat me like i'm retarded and ask "Where are you from?" I'd always be like, "New york, dumb ass"
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thinker



Joined: 10 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 2:34 pm    Post subject: yeah~ Reply with quote

Wink sliding the money over the counter, so much change!, tipping, vanilla coke back from the 50's, snow upon snow upon snow in -10_-30, windchill, no bells on the tables, no YO_GI_YO to get peoples attention, bombardment of reality TV, the simpsons!, blizzards, taxes, excellerating my breath, no 6am drinking, no tents to drink in, no public vomiting (yet),
cheap coffee, no free things, no discounts, snooker, amazing variety of good beer on tap, driving without fear, fresh air, damn phone cords!, can't charm girls with korean, 18,000kms of difference> > >
Arrow
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Zyzyfer



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: who, what, where, when, why, how?

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man, I'm bloody sick of reverse culture shock. I had my first taste of it when I studied in Australia and came back to the U.S...yea, pretty average. It wasn't totally different, but I had just started to realize that the U.S. way to do things isn't the only way there is. Oh, how I loved the power sockets that could be turned off with the flip of a switch!...

I came to Korea and felt burned out after six months, of course. Took several vacations outside of Korea, but inevitably it was a woman that made me start appreciating the place more. Last November, I left Korea for one month to travel through China, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Despite the wonderful feel of Koh Samui, I yearned to get back to Korea, where I understood how things were supposed to work. My alcoholic friend agreed as well...it was weird not knowing all the little cultural tidbits in Thailand, China, et cetera.

I came back to Korea for one week to hang with the girlfriend and re-pack. Just as soon as I was getting adjusted to things...time to fly home for Christmas. Yippie.

Family problems, everyone wants to meet me but doesn't want to hear much about Korea, hicks pretending to be yuppies everywhere. I couldn't carry on conversations in a weird language that people vaguely understood. Nobody was interested in going to bars(though no one really turned down booze). Political developments I've made were of no concern, and the family thought I shouldn't state my opinions on how Bush is screwing things up. Worst of all, I realized I've got allergies to pets, which everyone possessed.

On the bright side, the air appeared cleaner(isn't actually cleaner), I got to hang out with old friends, I could see the horizon and appreciate grass.

In the end, I found myself pining for kalbi sessions and wild weekends with some other wacky foreigners in the local bar, calling for mekju.

I don't know...I went back, and felt foreign. I felt like an outsider, because I had changed drastically, and everyone else was the same. I found myself having to keep quieter in the U.S. than in Korea, and I can't even talk to people here. Everything I said felt like it was being analyzed for treachery...it was probably just a mild case of paranoia, and the fact that I hadn't carried on a full-on conversation with any native English speakers in a while except for the Irish roommate(he's Irish, natch) and my dorky alcoholic Warcraft III-playing friend.

When two pals I know came over to visit Korea about a week ago, I realized that I fit in a lot more here than I realize. My friends were Asian, and one looked vaguely Korean(Chinese guy), so everyone tried to talk to them, but once those same people realized I was the one to communicate with, and that I knew a hell of a lot about the place, I could walk anywhere and get the story, get good service, so on.

But when I first got back, I had travelled so much, that I even felt foreign in Korea for a little while. Culture shock is exhilirating...to me, at least. Keeps things from getting too settled down.
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itchy



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Location: Busan

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yup

Last edited by itchy on Mon Jun 05, 2006 12:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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The Lemon



Joined: 11 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The people are big, goofy and obsessed with stupic crap.

And they're different from the waeguk community in Korea in what way? Smile

I can relate with the reverse culture shock. I remember staring at an attractive young woman who was smoking - outside, in public! - and thinking, "oohh... she's naughty..." I also remember the jarring experience of walking through a crowded bar and being able to understand what everyone was saying.

I did, however, like the fact that NO ONE in a crowd looked at me or otherwise gave me any attention over anyone else. Sometimes it's *nice* to be just one of the masses.

I also liked looking at the changes in my hometown over the year. And the interesting-looking cars! And being able to chat up the girl working at the corner store, once I trained myself to stop bowing/nodding when leaving.

You just need to keep control over your "when I was in Korea..." stories when talking to your friends. It was a big experience for you, but not a shared one.

Anyway, welcome home. Plotting your escape already?
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some waygug-in



Joined: 25 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2003 5:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me the biggest thing I had to deal with was that everyone expected me to just buy a car, find a low wage job and forget all about my time abroad. They still treated me like the going nowhere, helpless loser that I was before I left. They couldn't seem to grasp the concept that I actually HAD money or that I was only in Canada for a vacation, and most importantly, that I was definately NOT GOING TO STAY IN CANADA.
Coming from rural Saskatchewan, most people scoffed at me for coming here in the first place. My older brother actually tried to get me to stay in Canada and work in a car wash! I had to fight with him to show him that I was serious about Korea. " Why would you want to go to Korea?", he asked.
Because I couldn't bear the thought of working for $7 an hour and then having to pay 40% of my earnings in taxes.
Korea has it's foibles, but at least I can earn an honest living here.
Cheers
PS: Don't come back before you are ready. Korea will still be here, unless of course it's blown off the face of the earth.
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william beckerson
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2003 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Lemon wrote:

You just need to keep control over your "when I was in Korea..." stories when talking to your friends. It was a big experience for you, but not a shared one.

Anyway, welcome home. Plotting your escape already?


heh. I've already begun to notice the glazed over eyes whenever the words "In Korea..." leave my mouth. I'll try to save it for the internet.

And now that I'm pretty much over the jet lag, I've started plotting my return to north east asia. It's dead boring here.
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