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Why I want to go home
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half_pint



Joined: 16 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2003 11:57 pm    Post subject: Why I want to go home Reply with quote

I have been in Korea for three months and sixteen days so I fall into Donkey's category of people who are allowed to complain about Korea. Woo hoo! Here I go. I am not usually one to complain, but......

Last weekend I saw a man grab a woman by the throat and shove her kicking and screaming into the back of a car. She was screaming and crying and flailing and he slammed the door on her leg - no one around cared except for me and the other two foriegners I was with, and there wasn't anything we could do about it because she didn't want any help.

Last week a man on the subway had a seizure and fell off of his seat onto the floor. Everyone in the subway car literally turned their heads the other way. People were talking on their cell phones and they just continued their conversations - it didn't occur to anyone that it might be a good idea to call someone to help this man. I was with two other people; the three of us did what we could to make sure he didn't hurt himself when he was seizing. None of us have cell phones so we stepped off at the next stop to look around for security people (the guy had stopped seizing by this point), there weren't any, and the doors to the train closed and it left. I really would've liked to have done more to help him, but there was no way that three of us could've lifted him off of the train (he was huge). I have no idea what happened to this man but I can't stop thinking about it.

I am sick of Korean food. Everyone goes on about how healthy it is, but I disagree. I don't think there is enough variety here. Koreans eat a lot of vegetables, but I can eat vegetables at home and get some whole-grain or flax bread and all the chickpeas I want too. I feel like I am eating stuff that tastes the same every day.

The staring, the spitting, and the vomit were all easy to ignore at first, but just for the past few days it has all been getting to me. Especially the staring.

I could keep going, but I won't.

I can't believe I'm even writing this. I like my job, I like most of my students, I have met some great people here....but I feel like crap. I think my biggest problem might be that I'm a little homesick....I just want to go home and eat falafels and have a beer and watch a hockey game with my friends.


I'm not really going to go home - right now I feel like I don't want to be here for another 8.5 months, but I am hoping this strange feeling will pass.

How did all of you guys feel after your first three months in Korea?
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matko



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: in a world of hurt!

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The three to four month period is the hardest. The newness has worn off and you have settled into a routine. You are able to contemplate what is going on and the bad starts to bubble to the surface.

You are in The middle of classic culture shock. Read some stuff on the net about it and you'll see what I mean. Most people go through the same thing. The next 2 months or so will probably be the toughest.

Hang in there

Matko


Last edited by matko on Tue Apr 15, 2003 12:57 am; edited 1 time in total
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gray



Joined: 12 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

half-pint--
yep, i hear ya............the three-month mark of my stay in korea is pretty much when everything went wrong. at first, everything was so, well, new and exciting and different that i didn't really even have a chance to assess whether or not i actually liked it here. but then, all of a sudden, stuff that seemed, well, exciting and different and hilarious suddenly became relentless, exhausting and annoying. i spent a good solid few weeks hiding in my apartment pretending i was anywhere but here. but then, it just, i don't know, passes. i've been here eight months now, and the longer i'm here, the more i like it. sure, i have a few "i hate korea, i hate children, i hate bibimbop and can't freakin stand red pepper paste" days, but they are few and far between. it was culture shock, and it passed. i'm sure it will do the same for you. hope you get happier.
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richinkorea



Joined: 22 Jan 2003
Location: Gawd Darn Hot and Sunny Arizona !

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure if you are familiar with the culture shock terminology, if not, here is a link:

http://edweb.sdsu.edu/people/CGuanipa/cultshok.htm

Seems most people have trouble around the third or fourth month. I did.
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pleasant1



Joined: 20 Mar 2003

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know exactly how u feel half_pint. I would have to agree with most others that what u are feeling is culture shock. I went through it also, and so does everyone who is somewhat normal that arrives here in korea.

In the beginning everything is just cool and different and then after a couple months of screaming children and simply way too much overtime things kinda lose there "coolness" and just become ANNOYING. But hey, all gets better with the more time you spend here. I believe I might have even been caught saying korea was (gasp) beautiful once.

A few props I can think of...

- bus drivers are insane, but they get you where you want to be as fast as humanly possible.
- pizza...mmmm
-no rent...that is pretty tough to come by
- every foreigner has celebrity status
- the kids at school...freakin hate them but they are so cute.
- tak-galbi (chicken done right)
- Seoul (gets a fair bit of quality music talent in)
-soju (not my idea of a good drunk, but hey if u want to get absolutely knockered for like 4 bucks...do it up! Confused )


thats it for now
cheers
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Rand Al Thor



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Location: Locked in an epic struggle

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hang in there.... like everyone is saying it's around the 3-4 sometimes 6 month mark that culture shock kicks in. If you can hold out for awhile you should get over it.

Half-pint, did you come to the bash on Saturday? If not, wait for the next one and you'll be able let off steam, have a good time, and get your equilibrium back. Better yet - get together with some friends and do the same thing.
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Dan



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Sunny Glendale, CA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 4:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

huh? where are you from? Someone had a seizure and no one helped? in high school, I remember some kid had a seizure and a punk ass bunch were laughing their asses off, going "look at em squirm!!"

as for culture shock, same as what everyone else said --;
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Marathe



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: Spider Hole

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 4:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

more bonuses:

1. Bars open until daylight
2. Drinking in a tent when you're not even camping.
3. Smokes are dead cheap over here compared to the real world
4. You're around a bunch of people (other foreigners) who are in the exact same situation as you: its like university again only you have money and fame to go along with it.

the bad stuff will just start to be irrelevant before long: it just happened to me in the past 2 months.
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Alias



Joined: 24 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem of domestic violence does bother me. I read that no one wants to get involved because they think it is a "family issue". I wonder if it is the same elsewhere in Asia?

As for the incident about the man with the seizure, would it be any different in Toronto or New York? Think this is part of big city mentality.

Starring has never bothered me. I don't know why. I'm not a thick skinned person either. I just don't care. Guess it depends on each persons personality.
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half_pint



Joined: 16 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is really funny - I read a ton of stuff about culture shock before I came here, but it never occurred to me that I might actually have it. When I read it, I thought "this will never happen to me, I am always happy, I never let things get to me". Ha ha. I want to sleep all the time, I miss a job that I hated when I was actually working there - I totally have culture shock! At least now I know why I'm not myself. I should've figured that out. I'm so embarassed. Embarassed

As for the seizure thing - I'm from a really small town where that would never happen, but I did spend about 5 years in Toronto. I witnessed a similar incident there on a streetcar, but in Toronto not everyone stood around like lumps, more than a few tried to be helpful. And at least in Toronto there wasn't a language barrier keeping me from doing what I wanted to do to help. I understand people's points though - a big city is a big city no matter where you are.

I didn't go to the bash on Saturday but I will try to make the next one. And I will let off some steam asap. I do have some great Korea stories too, and I will try to concentrate on them more. Thanks - you are all very nice people!
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deshell32



Joined: 07 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 6:44 am    Post subject: Hit hard your first few months Reply with quote

I would say your experiences are pretty common, but for one person to experience that much in the short time period you have been here is kind of unusual. We have all encountered events such as yours. Part of your feeling is probably due to homesickness. It will improve. Hang in there. I know this won't help, but I will most likely be leaving in a little over a month when my contract ends. I cannot wait. Overall, I think Korean society can be very negative. But the money is decent if you are single and have no children like me. Overall, I endured 12 months of negativity, although there were bright spots along the way. But if I had to do it over again, I would because thanks to Korea I will have a 5 figure amount in my bank when I leave. For first timers coming out of college, I think Korea is a good place as far as money is concerned. But once you save and are financially comfortable, GET THE HECK OUT. There are other places around the world where you would be happier teaching EFL or ESL. AND THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE COMMENTS ABOUT THE FOOD. I AM TIRED OF PEOPLE STRESSING THE HEALTH ASPECT OF KOREAN FOOD. IT IS VERY BLAND AND TASTE PRETTY MUCH THE SAME. AND I AM NOT A PICKY PERSON WHEN IT COMES TO EATING. I VISITED CHINA AND LOVED THEIR FOOD. SO I AM NOT A WESTERNER WHO HAS A DISLIKE FOR NON-WESTERN FOOD. KOREAN FOOD IS NOT GREAT AT ALL. Just hang in there. In a few months you will be glad you endured. You can easily save money here.
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The Lemon



Joined: 11 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I have been in Korea for three months and sixteen days


HP: As the others said, you're right on schedule. Smile The good news is, there's an exit to the tunnel you're in. You'll never be back to the "wow, this place is so NEATO!!" honeymoon period, but maybe that's a good thing.

My unsolicited opinion: expect your relationship with Korea to be a continuing cycle of peaks and valleys, the lows shallower and the highs more diminished with every cycle. I doubt they ever end. Oh, and to second Rand's suggestion - show up at the next do. Sympathetic ears are a good thing.

Cheers-
Lemon
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chi-chi



Joined: 15 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Huh. Maybe I'm different.
I hated it the moment I got there, then I was like "ok I'll stick this out and see how it goes". I was ok (as far as that goes) for a while. Then I got to month 6 and wanted to spit on everybody and everything and sometimes cussed people out when they gave me the K attitude...one guy I knew (at about this same time-6 months in) got into a fistfight, and he was a really easygoing guy who really appeared to like the culture in the beginning.
Funny thing is, I went to Seoul to visit right before I left, and loved it. That was during month 8.
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JW



Joined: 06 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Look dude
I feel ya. I felt like shit my first 4 months. I still get that feeling from time to time. When my friends ask what I miss most, I say the food. They are a but hurt but that is the truth. I can go on about what sucks about being away from the familliar but re-read what you wrote. That is some funny, interesting and shamefull stuff. I mean I gave a man CPR on the street and had some kid poke me in the butt all in the same day. If you were at home for this year could you say that any of that stuff happened to you. I thought about it several times and came to the conclusion that I would have done nothing this year at home to justify not coming here. I had a good life but now it will be all the better. After this, there is no person who can tell you that you can't do whatever you want.
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The King of Kwangju



Joined: 10 Feb 2003
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hang in there half-pint. For me, it took 6-mos until I knew that I could stick it out. I ended up staying for 5 years, but had ups and downs, as I'm sure everyone else here does.

JW wrote:
I gave a man CPR on the street and had some kid poke me in the butt all in the same day.

I like this line. This comes close to summing up the K experience in a single sentence. Close.
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