So yeah…how do you like the new look? Thought it was time to lighten things up a bit and actually start blogging a bit more about the odd turn my life has taken recently.
Before I get started on that though, I want to add an update to my last post, on family and the things that I have learned and let go when it comes to the topic.
Shortly before leaving the US for Korea, I got some bad financial news. Went into deep depression, mourned, stayed in bed for two days and accidentally let the whole sorry episode slip to my grandmother when I went to go visit her.
What happened next shocked me. I had started a crowd funding campaign to get me out of the bad investment hole I had managed to dive headfirst into, and while my friends were incredibly helpful, my family members–including some folks I barely talk to these days–were responsible for over half of the donations.
I was stunned. Shocked. And am eternally grateful. As a result, I left Colorado feeling loved, safe and secure. That is a way I had forgotten how to feel. Thank you family. You know who you are.
I guess that’s a good lead in to the point of today’s blog entry, which is…Korea is different. My Korea experience so far has been very different both from my UK expat experience and from all of the blog and vlog and book accounts I’d read before coming, and I’m glad.
I’ve heard horror stories, weird stories, stories of discrimination etc…but I’ve had nothing but good experiences here when it comes to Koreans and Korean culture. The only issues I’ve had so far have been with other expats–primarily white Americans and Europeans but chile, that is a whole other topic for another post. Not gonna touch that now.
My point is, despite what you may have heard about Korea–political turmoil, cultural pecadilloes, etc…–my experience here so far has been one of feeling safe, secure, and remarkably unworried. Even though I’m working a full time job, don’t speak enough of the language to understand most of what anyone says to me yet, and don’t really know many people yet–I feel so relaxed I might as well be on a extended vacation.
Part of that is the usual culture-shock honeymoon stage wide-eyed thing, I know. But part of it…I don’t know.
For example, right now, it’s Friday night. I’m chillin’ at home. Ordered a pizza(in Korean! Amazing, right?). Went to the corner store and got a beer and some cookies too. I had all these grandiose plans to clean my house and work on some crochet patterns, but I’ve been talking to people all week so instead I’m sitting in front of the TV with my laptop and a terrible beer and a decent pizza typing nonsense and watching this;
No, really. What the hell is this, anyway? Is this a grown ass man in a hipster outfit doing crisp choreography? And do I actually think it’s CUTE? What has my life come to?
Comfort, that’s what. I don’t feel guilty for relaxing. I don’t have the constant pressure I felt in the US and UK to always be doing something, working on something, making something happen. I don’t feel like I need to be talking to someone, forcing a social connection, or helping somebody.
Maybe it’s selfish. But if this is what life in Korea is like so far…I think I’m going to love it here. It won’t last forever, but right now, I need the break. It is so nice to have options to do a lot of stuff–and not HAVE to do anything.
There are pressures and odd spots and major cultural differences, of course. I’m 15 minutes away from the DMZ(aka the North Korean border) and that’s certainly interesting, if not as drastic as most English-speaking media makes it seem. Hearing K-Pop music everywhere constantly has pretty much ended my temporary love affair with it. Americans are often racist morons, to my chagrin. Koreans seem to be polite to us allanyway, which is kind of them. And I am really embarrassed by my low level of ability in the language…I’m so used to talking my way into and out of things that without that ability, I feel like I seem stupid and inept. In fact, I AM kind of stupid and inept. Viva humility. Over the course of time, I’m sure I’ll blog about all of that but right now, I’m still riding out my first impression of Korea. That impression is…
…I like this place.
But seriously though. THIS just came on. What the hell is this? Where’s the dude with the Bane mask?
Follow me on Twitter for more consistent updates on the mamalazarus Korea experience and hit the subscribe button on this blog…it’s somewhere over there. —>
PS; Today’s blog title comes from this song…
Returning is hard. Leaving wasn’t easy, but it was gradual. A six month visit turned into a 6 year stay, but I was never there permanently and it took some time to adjust. I’m not sure I ever really did. But there was always that sense of adjusting, of moving, of changing and adapting to my surroundings.
Coming back happened all of a sudden, and all of the things I remembered that made me want to leave were bigger and even more annoying than before. I didn’t want to be back. I didn’t want to deal with 8-lane highways, gridlock, and hours on public transportation. I didn’t want to deal with jumbo sized everything and flat Midwestern accents and well-meaning racialicious white people who felt entitled to inform me how unracist they are.
More than anything, I didn’t want to deal with the questions, or the assumptions behind them.
“You must have money, right? Anyone who travels like you do must have money.”
“You musta got your heart broke by some Englishman. That why you came back?”
“Did you bring me something nice?”
“Do you think you’re better than everybody now?”
It’ s not that people here in the US are any more ignorant than people in the UK, or anywhere else in the world. It’s just that returning has reminded me how ignorant we all are, and how few people actually are aware of that ignorance.
I can’t wait to be consciously ignorant again. Here’s to February, and blowing this big ol’ red white and blue popsicle stand again.
So the other day I decided that I wanted to buy a McDonald’s apple pie. Not one of those crappy baked ones that have taken over the dessert portion of the menu in stateside McDonald’s…no, Mother England still fries her pies in oil, resulting in the perfect combination of crackly crisp crust and molten lava apple filling. Those pies are one of the best things about life as an expat in Britain. They make up for every boiled vegetable, dry pastry, and unsalted piece of meat I’ve been tricked into eating in this country…almost.
Where was I? Oh, yeah. I wanted an apple pie. So I went into a McDonald’s with a handful of change.. It was a strange time of day, just before the lunch rush, so the place was pretty empty. I walk in. See the display tube of pies, nearly empty. And before I order one, I ask the first employee I see “How long ago were those pies fried?”
You would have thought I’d asked, “How many times did you spit in my hamburger?”
I promise it’s less disgusting after the jump…
Continue reading →
Argh. Once again there is so much going on in the world, both my private world and the general world, that I find myself overloaded when it comes to things to blog about. SO I’m taking the cowards way out and doing a quick random list of five today, after the jump… Continue reading →
Eh, meh. You win some, you lose some.
Turns out I’ve lost a tooth, some friends and quite a lot of faith and sanity this year but HEY! Not dead yet. Things can get better, and they will.
One of the things that helps me gain perspective when I’m feeling down is songs like this one…
There’s a dirty little secret that nobody ever mentions when a body goes off to become a single, unprivileged expat.
That secret is the emotional tailspin the “Emergency Contact” blank on a form can send you into.
Read more after the break…