Thank you to Chris Backe for publishing my guest post on his website www.chrisinsouthkorea.com Chris is one of the most well known bloggers in South Korea and is still living and working in Korea.CISK note: this guest post about reverse culture shock comes from Marie Webb, the blogger behind goneseoulsearching.com. Check out her blog for more insights on travel and life in Korea, even as she’s left the country.
My exciting trips to Daiso were over and I missed them greatly. Daiso was one of my favorite places to shop in Korea because the new 4 story building in Jongo, Seoul was lit up more than any of the surrounding stores and its white storefront and massive clear windows made it seem like walking up to heavens gates. Kimbap was constantly on my mind every time I saw someone bite into a sandwich at lunch. There are days I dream of walking down the street and spending $2.50 on a piece of seaweed wrapped rice stuffed with egg and pickled radish. I missed my 10 minute walks to and from work where I got to take in some of the foulest smells and scenes that Korea had to offer. Now in California, my friend asked me for a ride to her car which was parked 10 minutes away from my house because of a lack of parking spots. If she only knew the joy of walking….
Being back in California hasn’t been easy. For the first 2 weeks I was literally fearful of everywhere I went because of feeling so socially awkward. I remember bowing down to people saying hello and goodbye and the first thing blurted out from my mouth was “I just got back from living in Korea for a year” as to defend my strange behaviors. Not being the center of attention was also a strange feeling. My blonde hair and freckles really stood out in Korea and I had gotten used to people constantly staring at me. In California people treated me like every other blonde girl and I felt unappreciated and almost lonely because no one was interested in me.
Although returning to America hasn’t been the easiest adjustment, there are a few new advantages in life. When I started my M.Ed. TESOL program at The University of San Diego I felt most comfortable mingling with several foreign Chinese students in my program. In the past, I would never have felt comfortable talking about Asian culture but now my conversations are dominated by my experiences in Korea. In addition, I have realized there is a huge Korean culture in San Diego and Los Angeles that I never identified myself with prior to living abroad. I felt a new connection to a group that I normally would have steered away from. In short, my sociocultural perspectives expanded enormously. Originally, I felt no association with any particular culture because of my family upbringing. Now, anything Korean felt like home to me in a strange world that was not my own.
Now in my 4th month back home I have finally started to feel settled. Things like driving 30 minutes every day have become more comfortable and I’m no longer afraid to go grocery shopping. Life in Korea is still on my mind and sometimes I wonder whether or not my decision to leave and pursue a higher level degree was the correct one. As far as my career in ESL goes, receiving a Master’s in TESOL is the next step, but my students in Korea are always on my mind. Luckily I have found Facebook and e-mail to be a great source of connection with my old students at YBM. They have allowed me to develop into the teacher that I am today and for that I will always be grateful. For now, the only thing that I can do is focus on completing my degree. Blogging about Korea will serve as a way for me to keep in touch with a reality that now seems like a faraway dream. I miss you Korea and I’m sure I will see you again very soon.
Marie Webb is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in TESOL, literacy, and culture at the University of San Diego. She enjoys blogging about life in Korea on her website www.goneseoulsearching.com.
© Chris Backe – 2011
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This post was originally published on, Chris in South Korea.