Lately I have been feeling really fed up with Korea.
I find that people annoy me. Why do they always push? Why do they spit in the street right in front of me? Why do they keep on springing things on me at the last minute? Why can’t my co teacher tell me she needed help planning the lesson before the lesson started? Why does my vice principal think it’s funny to speak to me in rapid Korean and then laugh? The list just seems to be endless at the moment!
So I have to remind myself of these words: “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” Robert Louis Stevenson
Cultural differences are often a struggle and it is so very easy to think that ‘we’ are superior to ‘them’. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if my fellow English teachers could understand where I’M coming from? Wouldn’t it be nice if I could get a straight answer for once, not one laced with ‘maybes’? Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t surprise people everyday that I can use chopsticks and eat spicy food? And no, I’m not on a diet, I just don’t want to eat a whole bowl of rice for lunch!
So again I re-read the quote. “It is the traveler only who is foreign.” I am the foreigner. The outsider. The waygook.
It is me who is in the minority. I am the one who is being ‘difficult’ by failing to fully grasp cultural differences until after I’ve gone and gotten annoyed. It should be me being more patient with them. It should be me remembering that I am a guest in Korea and that I should be grateful that I have such gracious, patient and understanding hosts.
It’s something to remember.