Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hello, It's Me

You might be thinking that having a long vacation is a dream come true. The reality is that it is a dream come true but also one with a lot of unplanned time in it. Since I have been back I have taken care of JH's vacation arrangements for the holidays, sorted out some bills and started a few projects.

My folks went away for a few days and so I have had the house to myself. This is great as I don't feel guilty and selfish for sleeping in, but it also means I haven't had a conversation with anyone in a while.

Today I meandered around the house trying to wake up out of my daze, and thought about doing some art. But as I went through my sketchbook nothing inspirational came to me. Then I set about digging through my boxes in search of my stash of old photographs. Instead of finding what I was looking for I found old photos from my early college years. This was a time when I was exploring the world, but it was also the time I had my Chinese boyfriend. (That is what I have dubbed him over time.) At first I was happy to know I still had all of those pictures, but then after looking through them I felt sick inside. That relationship ended badly and there still remain so many questions, plus it reminded me of when I became seriously ill.

I had taken the photos up to my bedroom, but soon realized I didn't want them out. So immediately went back down to the dark garage and stuffed them in a box. I guess some things are better left buried.

Thankfully, I managed to find several collections of my childhood photos. I hope to scan them into my computer so to have a digital archive.

Eventually, today I did get around to doing some art. I figured why not start with sketching and see where that goes. 

I can tell how when some people who come back from living abroad have a feeling of disconnect when they return home. Some say they feel "reverse culture shock", but I really disagree with this phenomenon. Sure one will definitely feel the differences between the two cultures, but I don't think what one observes in their own can be defined as "culture shock." It's your own culture and therefore a lot easier to understand and accept. Whereas, in Korea, culture shock sometimes happens daily and often never gets explained.

For me the whole thing is that I have a life in Korea that I have built up. It is all structured around wanting to live there and not really making a plan for myself back here in America. My vacation has made me put my "Korean life" on pause and figure out what to do with myself in a place where I have little friends. However, I know I need to make use of my time and that is why I am indulging in my art, but also I plan to go out and explore local events and places. I am really grateful, actually, because the weather here is so much warmer than in Korea making walking around a whole lot easier. :)


  1. Sorry I haven't been v. available for much ph conversation lately!
    Maybe if you had a car for your vacation you'd feel less isolated?
    And maybe some of those old spooky fotos just need to get thrown out. You know I'm the queen of keeping stuff, but I actually had to get rid of some old fotos along the way myself!
    Hang in there.... I thought u were going to study education material over the holiday? Maybe visit a college library?

  2. After spending 5 years in Korea and then living with my Korean mother-in-law sleeping on a yo I became quite accustomed to Korean lifestyle. And I didn't think it would be hard to come back to Canada. But damn, reverse culture shock is kicking my butt ;)

  3. Yes Mom I have the materials...just gotta put my brain in study mode. Been on "vacation"mode lately.

    And I can see how the more you get entrenched in Korean culture coming back to your own will feel more odd.

  4. too bad i live so far from you. i wouldn't mind a little meet up and see how you are. plus the weather where you are looks amazing! we had a mini blizzard here this past weekend and i'm just now going back to teach tomorrow after 2 snow days...

  5. Reverse culture shock (and culture shock) refers to a psychological process of adaptation to a new environment. It's not about actually BEING "shocked" by anything. It is more akin to a temporary depression--feelings of isolation and disconnection with your native culture. It is, as Jen's comment suggests, more difficult the more immersed you became in your host culture and the less you kept in touch with your home culture.

    I'm not sure how one can "disagree" with a phenomenon.

  6. Hi Kristen,

    Ah yes so far away yet so close. Well it's getting colder here, but we tend not to get many blizzards. I hear the cold snap out there is pretty bad. My mom down in Florida is complaining haha!

    ANyways stay warm and I look forward to hearing more about the development of your wedding.


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