I've been back in the states for about a year and a half and I never dreamed I would miss Korea as much as I do. I'm sure some of you who have lived abroad have heard of the term "reverse culture shock," and I believe I am still experiencing this phenomena. Also referred to as Havershock, some symptoms include nostalgia, disappointment that nothing appears to have changed, and being let down by the lack of interest of others. These are the symptoms I feel most relate to me most.
Nostalgia: I reminisce about Korea quite often, especially when talking to friends who I met while living there. I think about the people I met, my students, the trips I took, the food that only ajummas really know how to make (my kimchi fried rice is ok, but nothing compared to what they can do!), and just all the fun times I had there. Yes, I did have some stressful times, but the good times totally outweigh the bad.
Disappointment that nothing appears to have changed: I don't know what I expected when I came home, but I found that I was a completely different person while everyone and everything was pretty much the same. I found that I wanted to go out and try new things, whereas most people here were fine with doing the same ol stuff all the time. The same old bar, the same food, the same old everything. I know I sound like a stuck up bitch right now...I'm not saying doing the same things is bad. In fact, I enjoyed those things when I got home because I missed them. I just feel like people get too comfy with their everyday lives and I don't see myself being happy with that for myself.
Lack of interest of others: Now this one kinda makes me sad. I thought that people would be interested in my stories of traveling abroad and seeing the world. Sadly, some just thought I was bragging and thought I saw myself as better than them. This really hurt me. All I wanted to do was bring my 2 lives together. I talk about the times I had while living overseas and friends and family still mock me with things like "This one time in Korea..." and "Well, in Korea they..." Ok, I get it! I talk about Korea...A LOT! But who wouldn't talk about a place that was such a major part of their life for 2 friggin years?? Excuse me for wanting to share those experiences with people I love.
I missed being home while in Korea and now I'm home and miss being in Korea. I will be going back in about a week and I know I will miss this place like mad. I'll miss Saturday night karaoke, impromptu family get togethers, bonfires, singing Rob Zombie, hanging out on the porch with my cousin, all the damn cute kids in this family, trips with the girls, and so much more. And even though my loved ones don't understand my need to travel and live abroad, I know I have their love and support no matter where I am in this world...and I will miss all of them a ton!