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



Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Location: Busan (1997-2008) Canada 2008 -

PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having lived in Korea for 11 years or so and now back in Canada for roughly 5 years here is my take....

1- I miss Korea when in Canada and vice versa. My wife missed Korea sometimes as well (she is Korean). So in essence I have this double home feeling. Bascially, I get the itch to move on a regular basis.

2- I was away from Canada for 11 years and despite numerous visits I lost touch with some friends and flat out lost friends as the relationship just ended. Distance and time does that so be ready for it. As an unexpected "benefit" living in Korea and marrying someone from there exposed my dad as a raging bigot. Never knew that before...life lessons.

3- Be very careful of the "expat superiority complex". What's that? In short it is the expat who only talks about his or her experiences living abroad as if it makes them somehow superior to people who have not lived abroad. That will tire out your friends in a hurry.

4- Realize that most people back home do not give two shits about your experiences abroad beyond the first few stories. After than you become a one tune rambler because they cannot relate, much like you cannot relate to their lives and experiences on some level. The more you force expat stories on them, the faster their eyes will glaze over. Oh and you think Koreans react when you criticize their country, start complaining how boring, bad or shoddy your home country is with your friends from home and watch the reaction lol

5- Be ready for reverse culture shock! It can be worse than culture shock itself because it is kind of unexpected. Lots of expats start to idealize their home countries while abroad, erasing the bad points and remembering only the good points. That turns home into a sort of paradise and when you return you may be in for a rude awakening. Also, living abroad means you adapt to a life in a different place/culture. Going back home you may find your reactions to things have changed.

6- How you fare on your return depends, in my experience, on how much you planned and prepared for the move. Showing up with no plan and some savings will quickly turn into no savings! On the other hand if you play your cards right and set up a soft landing for yourself with a clear plan, you can make the transition smoothly.

Other things come into play for different people. We moved to Canada with two kids that up to then had only lived in Korea. That was an adaptation in itself! My wife had a rough time initially with adapting before it all smoothed over.

A friend of mine from Edmonton (met him abroad) left Canada for Asia in 1991. He came back to visit his family 3 times from 1991 to now. Each time he returned he felt less and less comfortable in Canada and now could not imagine living there. He is retiring in Vietnam. For him, Canada had become an alien place (his words).
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Chet Wautlands



Joined: 11 Oct 2008

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pat, #6 is the big one.

By next year I'll be married and my wife and I plan to move to Canada. She's Korean, I'm Canadian. I'm 31 and have never had a "real" job in Canada. I've got a M.Ed, but no desire to teach back home.

We both have ideas of going back to school... but for what?

It seems really hard to plan from over here in Korea.
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PatrickGHBusan



Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Location: Busan (1997-2008) Canada 2008 -

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

chet pm me if you like. Perhaps i can help out in some way.
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litebear



Joined: 12 Sep 2009
Location: Holland

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

World Traveler wrote:
fustiancorduroy wrote:
Last spring, I went to the US, to "home", for the first time since coming to Korea in 2006, meaning that I was gone for nearly six years.

How do your parents feel about you visiting them only once every six years? They spent so much time, effort, and money raising you for at least the first 18 years of your life, so I think you owe it to them to see them more frequently. Just my opinion, but I think to do otherwise is unethical.

I remember reading a post by a user named popeye4u (or something like that) who said he hadn't been home in seven years, and I remember being really freaked out by that. I wondered if he was estranged from his family or if he had no friends back home and his parents were dead.

Actually, I've seen quite a few posts by posters talking about how long it has been since they've been home (almost as if they are bragging). To me, something about that seems pathetic and sad.

I get homesick quite a lot, and I sometimes think about what I've missed out on and lost by being away from where I grew up. Have a gained stuff from being overseas? Yes. Does it outweigh what I have lost? I'm not sure.


How long have you been in Korea? 4 years? Maybe time to go home...
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World Traveler



Joined: 29 May 2009

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been here two years total. Litebear, I've noticed you react with extreme defensiveness to a lot of my posts. I take it you are married to a Korean woman? Well, my advice to you is to be secure in yourself, and not take what I post personally.
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Captain Corea



Joined: 28 Feb 2005
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure about your issue with that poster, WorldTraveller, but your post does come off a bit "wrong" to me as well. Your assumption of what a family relationship MUST be like, and what a person OWES, seems pretty narrow minded to me.

Not everyone fits into your narrow perspective on life - might be good to keep that in mind. This isn't personal at all, man - just saying you might be better served to listen to how happy ppl are doing what they're doing.
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World Traveler



Joined: 29 May 2009

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you know how much it costs to raise a child from birth to age 18? Something like $200,000.

Life is not all about doing what makes you happy. Duty and responsibility has its place, too. I for one am not going to turn my back on my parents- not now, and not when they become older.
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Captain Corea



Joined: 28 Feb 2005
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you even read my post?

Not everyone was raised to 18 years old by their parents. Not everyone was supported by them. Many ppl had/have strained relationships with their parents - yes, even involving abuse.

So would you be so kind as to step off of your little soap box for a moment and realize that not EVERYONE grew up like you, and that not EVERYONE must act the way YOU think is right?
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KimchiNinja



Joined: 01 May 2012
Location: Gangnam

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:49 pm    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'?


Yeah but that's the thing with the US, dudes there don't get out much. Wink

'Merka, hell-yeah!
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KimchiNinja



Joined: 01 May 2012
Location: Gangnam

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

World Traveler wrote:
fustiancorduroy wrote:
Last spring, I went to the US, to "home", for the first time since coming to Korea in 2006, meaning that I was gone for nearly six years.

How do your parents feel about you visiting them only once every six years? They spent so much time, effort, and money raising you for at least the first 18 years of your life, so I think you owe it to them to see them more frequently. Just my opinion, but I think to do otherwise is unethical.

I remember reading a post by a user named popeye4u (or something like that) who said he hadn't been home in seven years, and I remember being really freaked out by that. I wondered if he was estranged from his family or if he had no friends back home and his parents were dead.

Actually, I've seen quite a few posts by posters talking about how long it has been since they've been home (almost as if they are bragging). To me, something about that seems pathetic and sad.


Sounds like you still view your country of origin as "home".

That's cool, but not everyone is like that, and it doesn't mean their old life sucked. When I land in Asia now I'm like "yeah home!", USA feels like a place I'm visiting as a tourist.
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YujiKaido



Joined: 10 Oct 2008

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Sounds like you still view your country of origin as "home".

That's cool, but not everyone is like that, and it doesn't mean their old life sucked. When I land in Asia now I'm like "yeah home!", USA feels like a place I'm visiting as a tourist.


Yeah I agree, having studied in Japan for a year, taught in Korea and now finishing up teaching in Hong Kong. When visiting my family in the states, I feel outta place and bored, but when in Asia I get the same feeling. I feel more like a foreigner in America. There are things I miss in USA and of course my family but if it weren't for my family, I doubt I would ever go back.

Its a nice life being an expat if you can hack it but I know eventually I will have to settle down somewhere.
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Yaya



Joined: 25 Feb 2003
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just spent two weeks back in the U.S., and while it felt good to be back early, I got bored as the time wore on. I grew up in the suburbs and after being in Korea for the greater part of the last 20 years, life in the U.S. bores me to the max.

Many expats who went back have talked about their experiences. It feels good to be home for the first few months, then savings can erode quickly if you don't have a job or school to keep you busy, then wanderlust sets in. Some go back, some stay because of family but yearn for life abroad.

Yeah, you have people who drink their lives away in Asia but at least that's their choice. South Korea ain't North Korea, you can leave at any time.
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I'm With You



Joined: 01 Sep 2011

PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PatrickGHBusan wrote:
Having lived in Korea for 11 years or so and now back in Canada for roughly 5 years here is my take....

1- I miss Korea when in Canada and vice versa. My wife missed Korea sometimes as well (she is Korean). So in essence I have this double home feeling. Bascially, I get the itch to move on a regular basis.

2- I was away from Canada for 11 years and despite numerous visits I lost touch with some friends and flat out lost friends as the relationship just ended. Distance and time does that so be ready for it. As an unexpected "benefit" living in Korea and marrying someone from there exposed my dad as a raging bigot. Never knew that before...life lessons.

3- Be very careful of the "expat superiority complex". What's that? In short it is the expat who only talks about his or her experiences living abroad as if it makes them somehow superior to people who have not lived abroad. That will tire out your friends in a hurry.

4- Realize that most people back home do not give two shits about your experiences abroad beyond the first few stories. After than you become a one tune rambler because they cannot relate, much like you cannot relate to their lives and experiences on some level. The more you force expat stories on them, the faster their eyes will glaze over. Oh and you think Koreans react when you criticize their country, start complaining how boring, bad or shoddy your home country is with your friends from home and watch the reaction lol

5- Be ready for reverse culture shock! It can be worse than culture shock itself because it is kind of unexpected. Lots of expats start to idealize their home countries while abroad, erasing the bad points and remembering only the good points. That turns home into a sort of paradise and when you return you may be in for a rude awakening. Also, living abroad means you adapt to a life in a different place/culture. Going back home you may find your reactions to things have changed.

6- How you fare on your return depends, in my experience, on how much you planned and prepared for the move. Showing up with no plan and some savings will quickly turn into no savings! On the other hand if you play your cards right and set up a soft landing for yourself with a clear plan, you can make the transition smoothly.

Other things come into play for different people. We moved to Canada with two kids that up to then had only lived in Korea. That was an adaptation in itself! My wife had a rough time initially with adapting before it all smoothed over.

A friend of mine from Edmonton (met him abroad) left Canada for Asia in 1991. He came back to visit his family 3 times from 1991 to now. Each time he returned he felt less and less comfortable in Canada and now could not imagine living there. He is retiring in Vietnam. For him, Canada had become an alien place (his words).


Previous friendships before coming to Korea have simply disintegrated over the last decade. And it's very unlikely that they will ever be re-kindled, unfortunately. But the work I do now is different and my life situation is much different from theirs, too.

Reverse culture shock was significant for me when I went back. I just totally underestimated re-assimilating after being away for so many years. The way people talked, attitudes, shopping, needing a car to get to work and to go shopping, etc. It was overwhelming and frustrating.

I'm starting to feel a lot like your friend in Edmonton. It's like I don't belong anywhere now. I don't feel like I belong at home anymore and I won't ever belong here as an outsider. I'm just stuck in a kind of no man's land, floating from contract to contract every couple of years with no real home. Home is where I hang my hat, as they saying goes.


Last edited by I'm With You on Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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JustinC



Joined: 10 Mar 2012
Location: We Are The World!

PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First off I'm really enjoying all of the comments here; expats are, in general, more interesting (to me) than people who grow up and live their lives in the same location. Of course there are some people who stay in the same town and will be fascinating but I find that less frequent than those of us who've lived abroad for a number of years.

As to the OP's question when I go 'home' I get bored very quickly and soon start looking at where I'm going next. Korea isn't the first country overseas I've lived in and won't be the last, I expect I won't be buried in the country of my birth. This is completely acceptable to me as I have lots of family overseas and I value loyalty to friends over country or organization. Most of the people I keep in touch with are expats and it's really the first community I've felt a part of. Whether we're in Korea or Kuwait or Kazakhstan we face similar challenges and we're made of the same stuff; resourceful, flexible, adventurous, knowledgeable, magnanimous. We're all immigrants and it can be exciting and confusing, but we know what job we have to do so that is what we do and each year we get better at it, and better at finding better jobs. You never know if the next job/city is gonna be good or bad until you start but that's pretty exciting, and if it turns out to be a dud you know you can always move on.
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ArgentineDreams



Joined: 09 Sep 2011

PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JustinC- good post. I sensed some wisdom and optimism. Yeah Korea for me was the second time abroad, but a bigger culture shock because it was Asia. My first time living abroad was in Spain, and now after Korea, I am actually in France as I type this. Also my family isnít from America, my parents immigrated from Latin America to the US, so I have never really felt like I belonged in one country myself. I am actually very curious to go to less developed countries now, for example in Africa and South America. There is such a big world I havenít seen, and I want to.
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