Tag Archives: quotes

The season of ‘homesickness’.

After you leave home, you might find yourself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a better dishwasher than the home in which you grew up.

Those are some wise, wise words from Mr. Lemony Snicket himself. And if there is ever a time to long for drab wallpaper and bad dishwashers* I’d say that the time is nigh. The festive season. The time of endless family gatherings, delicious foods, tasty beverages and, being from the southern part of this fair world, summer.

[*Korean abodes most certainly have nicer wallpaper than any I’ve ever seen in South Africa, but I’m not so sure about the dishwashers, my Dad is ever so good at that and as back up there was always the electric-powered dishwasher, not yet widely available in Korea.]

Last week was Thanksgiving, which wasn’t a big deal for me, (although I did say ‘thanks’ and teach my students all about it) but it was a big deal for all of my American friends. They were dreaming of roast turkeys, pumpkin pies and football. It also, pretty much, marks the ‘one month to Christmas’ point. And then there’s New Year. So, basically a whole bunch of family fun and merriment. Except you aren’t at home, and you might be feeling a little sorry for yourself. Maybe just a little? This is my second festive season away from home, and here’s how I plan to deal with it, being an expert and all.

1. The Care Package. If you are very well-loved and cared for you can ask one of the people back home who love and care for you, to send you a package fill of love and tasty treats. It always feels wonderful to receive mail when you live abroad, especially if you have to go to the post office to pick it up. Ask someone to send you your favourite chocolates, festive treats or something that you can’t buy in your new home country.

2. Make festive plans. If you are one of those types of people who are super organised and love to rally people together, organise a Christmas party. All of your less organised and ‘leave everything to the last minute’ friends will love you. But seriously, when you are away from your biological family your friends are your new family, so make use of them,or be used (depending on your level of organisational skills).

The Christmas feast that was lovingly prepared by 2 wonderful friends. PS. Check out the AWESOME wallpaper!

3. Friends! Like I mentioned in the previous bit of expert advise, your friends are your family when you are far from home, so spend time with them. Hopefully some of them will love the BoneyM Christmas carol collection as much as your mother. And hopefully you can also tell him/ her: ‘Turn that wretched music off! It’s only allowed on Christmas day!”

4. Skype. From time to time, although you love your new-found family of friends, you will need ‘the real thing’, so just call them. Technology is a wonderful thing, so use it.

5. Embrace your new home. Do things that the natives do. In Korea Christmas is seen more as a couples holiday as opposed to a family one, so if you have a better half, hold hands, give each other giant teddy bears, or if you’ve been together for 100 days buy a ‘couples look’. If you don’t have a better half, well, see points 2 and 3.  Natives of Korea also love to go around wearing ridiculously festive jumpers and leggings with reindeer frolicking across them. I must admit, it is very festive.

Festive jumpers, festive socks, festive hats, festive mood.

Follow these 5 simple steps to endless, if somewhat different, festive fun. And remember, the wallpaper is always brighter on the other side. Or something to that effect. And here’s to a fantastically, friend filled festive season!

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Something to remember

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.

Kate x