Wednesday, July 19, 2006

how do i love thee...

as promised, now that i'll be home in less than two weeks, i've compiled a list off what i will miss about korea. i thank my lucky stars that this past year has been filled with communication with people back home. with visits, emails, this blog, phone calls, and my picture website, i think my family and friends have really gotten a taste of what this year has been like. this is essential when it comes to lessening the anxiety of getting home and dealing with people who most likely will have a lot of questions. i remember being a crying mess when i got off the plane returning from guatemala, not ready to talk about everything and just feeling like nobody would understand... and that was after only three weeks there! i still am concerned about reverse culture shock. i can already imagine what it will be like, which is number one on my list of what i will miss:

-being able to tune out people around you. i'm already picturing how irritating it's going to be sitting in a restaurant, cafe, or just walking down the street and understanding every single word coming out of strangers' mouths.

in addition to that, i will also miss:
-kimchi jjigae
-chamchi kimbap
-kimchi dopbap
-dolsot bibimbap
-rice desserts
-using chopsticks for practically every meal
-a culture that isn't afraid to include tofu in most dishes
-spicy food galore... but a different kind of spice from mexican food and the spiciness i'm used to
-having a meal that costs less than $5, which includes multiple sidedishes
-assigned seating in movie theaters... they really need to take this idea to america, because it's great to not have to worry about making it early enough to get enough seats together in a decent section
-taking numbers in banks and movie theaters, no lines needed here.
-NORAEBANGS. maybe i should have made this my number one.
-jjimjilbangs and saunas
-having no shame in going ANYWHERE in heels or dressing like i just stepped out of a fashion magazine
-giving and receiving things with two hands
-soju. although i don't drink it often at all and it leaves you with terrible hangovers, i'll miss the fact that it's only a dollar and tastes pretty good when mixed with orange juice. and i'll really resent it when i hunt it down back home for sharing with friends and family and forking over a good $10 for it. ridic-u-lous.
-not having to make conversation if you're not in the mood, it's so easy to withdraw yourself in public or at work because you don't speak the same language
-the accessibility of everything... being able to run right around the corner in the middle of the night to grab something at the convenience store.
-being able to walk to work
-being able to walk pretty much anywhere and getting what you need... without having to drive for 20 minutes
-watching reality tv to my heart's content... somehow it's not as shameful here
-being in a country where you can go to any major city and make it a day trip... from seoul to busan and back.
-alcohol sold anywhere. i love being able to grab a bottle of yellow tail merlot at the local 7/11 at 2 in the morning
-speaking of 7/11s... i'm going to miss, and perhaps be nostalgic when seeing, 7/11s, starbucks, bennigans, outback steakhouse, and tgifridays. i rarely went to starbucks back home, and man do your world-views on globalization really take a backseat to your comfort level and happiness when living in a foreign country. i've never stepped foot in a bennigans or outback back home and don't plan on ever doing so when i return. but god i loved them here, and i don't think anyone back home can ever realize the significance it holds for the expat community here... they'll always have a special place in my heart.
-no taxes... when you see something you want to buy, that's how much you pay. no ridiculous adding necessary.
-no tips. i'm actually really nervous about returning to a country where this is necessary and trying to remember to tip after taxi rides and leaving restaurants... and being generous in the process
-a job with short days that allows me to sleep in and never need an alarm clock... with exception to my last week here >:(
-playing with little kids all day and having the opportunity to just give writing assigments or play games if i'm not feeling like actually teaching (though i don't do that too often)
-being able to be an extreme goofball and have it be for educational purposes... kids definitely understand concepts better if you act like a moron and draw terrible pictures on the blackboard
-for a full year, having people back home actually interested in what you're doing because it's different
-though it gets annoying at times, feeling like a celebrity whenever you walk outside
-it's so much easier to meet people here, there's more reason to
-wacky t-shirts
-if you ever need a good laugh, you'll pretty much encounter a funny situation on a daily basis here. strange things do happen and i'll be sad to return to a "normal" life where things just don't shock you in the same way
-the sense of adventure
-mountains EVERYWHERE
-ondol heating
-downloading movies
-interaction with taxi drivers... some of them are among the funniest people i've ever met
-"serbicuh" with any purchase, large or small. love those freebies.
-appreciating your background/home more than you ever thought possible. i do love america, but i know in my head i have a glorified image of new york and the us. i know i'm going to go home and realize it's not as great as i was thinking and then create a glorified image of korea in my head and want to go back.
-those moments i've lived that were seriously lost in translation. i will watch that movie over and over when i'm home and laugh and laugh because really, only people who have been to asia can really GET the subtle humor of that movie
-though i don't go out much anymore, that great freedom of staying out as late as you want because everything's open all night, and feeling no shame in returning home at 6 in the morning. or 6:30. or 7:30.
-having friends that are sharing in the same exact experience. though we have different backgrounds, we all have a unique bond. we are here for more or less the same reasons, have the same financial background throughout the year, and have just about the same schedules. i'm never going to have that opportunity again, having friends who make the same amount of money and are on exactly the same page as me. we all came here for the adventure.

1 comment:

Sissy said...

Hey, we aren't interested in you only because you're doing something different - - I'm ALWAYS interested in what you are doing, even if it's watching a really good movie through you eyelids....