I just got back from a month long vacation back home (in the US). I had been here for two years before going home for the first time. I had a great time, but towards the end of it I was getting very irritable and standoffish towards everyone.
It had a lot more to do with me than the culture and customs of Korean people. The smallest things began to irritate me a lot more than they should, like being asked the same questions repeatedly, having to deal with people who weren't very receptive to me or my culture, and all the small little idiosyncrasies common to Koreans.
I had begun to really want to go home. I thought that maybe some time spent there would clear my head and set me straight.
Another thing I had been noticing shortly before I went home was my fixation on how much better my culture was at certain things. My mantra when I became irritable was "at least when I get home I won't have to put up with this sh*t, back home everything is perfect!"
Its all very strange considering I felt this way about being home just before I came to Korea. I'm from a really small town and have always been a black sheep just for having different interests than everyone else (basically I don't like four wheeling, sports and going to church, which makes me some kind of monster).
So I went home for a month.
-Everything is more expensive.
-I can understand everything everybody says. This is a bad thing. I had forgotten how stupid people are.
-People are disgustingly fat and it's practically against the law to tell them that. 80% of my hometown is fat. I made a remark about it when I was visiting relatives and noticed they would avoid the issue when talking and would refuse to use the word "fat." I guess we're all supposed to say "a little on the big side" or "overweight" now.
-Everyone my age who didn't go to university or move to the city gained 100 pounds, had two kids and complains about never having enough money.
-Everyone my age who went to university or moved to the city works at a shitty minimum wage job, has practically lost their will to live and aren't nearly as fun to talk to as they had been before I left. It feels like going to the local bar in a coal mining town after the mine was closed.
-Having to listen to relatives (all die hard Republicans) go on about the politics de jour like they actually know what they're talking about and having to try to keep quiet.
-Successful still means keeping less money per month than I keep here.
-Overabundance of responsibility. Some of it needless.
-Nothing ever changes. Everyone is doing the exact same thing they were doing. All the roads have pot holes in them that I remember complaining about five years ago. The only new business that came in since I left was Wal-Mart, and since everyone started shopping there all the town's family owned businesses have been on the decline.
-In Korea, people ignore you pretty much aside from some staring. Back home, people size everyone else up like it's their job and it's not uncommon for strangers to hurl insults at other strangers.
-Terrible internet. Terrible public transportation. Terrible service in restaurants (compared to Korea). Having to tip for said service.
-A lack of good Indian food. Korea spoils us there.
I could say a million more things but I'll leave it at that. I feel refreshed now and I feel like such a huge retard for letting all those little things bother me when I lived here. I am better off here than I was there and I think for a lot of us, this holds true.
Now I plan on going home once a year just to remind myself.
And I hate not being able to relate to anyone, or them to I, to touch on something brought up by another poster:
What also bugs me is how they also show little curiosity in your international experience or ignore it completely. Either they regard it as too mind-boggling and scary to comprehend, or they view it as wasted time (you could've been paying a mortgage and closing in on a management position in that time!).
Though a follow-up poster does provide a reality check:
I think most NETS here live in a bubble. Try supporting a family, paying off a mortgage, a car and see if you still have oodles of cash. You might find you're in the same boat as your friends back home.
I'm constantly weighing the advantages of East and West, wondering if each year I spend here means a year I'm not starting a career back home, or becoming a homeowner, wondering if I'm delaying the inevitable. But, lately I'm finding less worth going back to, when I consider all the ways Asia outstrips the US in convenience and, yes, development. Now that the cat's out of the bag on my relationship and engagement, I can admit that I've long worried about how quote-unquote foreigner friendly the US is compared to Korea or Japan for somebody who isn't fluent in the local language. I suppose it doesn't pay to be so on-the-fence about staying or going, but then again I'm not sure anything is guaranteed. Who knows if a career I land tomorrow will exist in ten years? Or if the house I buy now will worth anything when I retire? Or if I will even live to see 65 or whatever will be considered retirement age later? Or, at the rate US imperialism and arrogance is going, if the rest of the world will even allow it to survive for another generation? Or if it's worth saving?
Well, suffice it to say, there is a lot to like about Korea, and the periodic trips back home never fail to highlight some of what's good. I'm glad this thread came along to remind me.