Excitement, Fear, and Advice From Friends
As the day of departure is fast arriving and the only thing standing in my way is the return of my fully visa-ed passport, I wanted to reflect on the things that I am most excited and most anxious for my one-year stay in Korea
My friend once described the culture shock she experienced at the beginning of her semester in France as an overload of the senses; and even though she had been studying French language and culture for some-ought-6 years she still couldn’t believe the adjustments she had to make while over there. Now, looking at myself who up until this summer had zero knowledge on Korean culture or language, I could pretend and say as John Mulaney once said “I know what most things feel like,” but I know that would be a total lie. Luckily for me I don’t have to this alone and unaware. My world-traveling friend, like so many others, was able to survive the dreaded culture shock and she gave me some advice which I know will be invaluable to me in the near future:
She said the number one best thing you can do for yourself is to get a good night’s sleep. Because culture shock is such an overload to the senses, it is best to give the brain time to process and to adjust and learn from mistakes. It’s going to be hard not knowing how to communicate effectively sometimes and it’s going to be frustrating if you mess up some cultural norm, but do not fret and dwell and instead reflect and move on. Give your brain a rest and you will not regret it in the long run.
Do you remember the question “What is your major?” during college and when you answered, “English,” the person automatically assumed you’re were going to be a teacher? Remember when you got so angry because that was the furthest thing you wanted be? Remember that? Haha well if you’re wondering, yes, that was me; and now I’m kind of laughing hysterically because now after only a few months after graduation I’m going to South Korea…To Teach! For a YEAR! What has the world come to?
If you know me well then you know I’m not the biggest fans of kids and therefore I never wanted a career where I would have to work with them for long periods of time. Yet, after much reflection (in between the “What am I going to do with my life”-crisis-periods) before graduation I realized that I had been working with kids during a lot of my college career. I volunteered at an after-school poetry club, I tutored after classes, I volunteered with the Girl Scouts for my sorority; and even though it was difficult for me I still tried my best to help the kids and have fun with them. Combine that with my English degree, I few classes on TEFL, and a love for South-East Asian culture and boom! you’ve got a pretty good candidate for a foreign English teacher in South Korea.
So, while I’m nervous about the teaching aspect of going to South Korea, I am going to make the most of it and take in what lessons the kids have to offer. Who knows, after this year, maybe I’ll end up being a teacher after all.
“To find yourself, think for yourself” -Socrates
When I got to college freshman year, I expected that by this time now I would be a little more in tune with myself and little more independent. I would be paying my own bills and buying my own groceries. Unfortunately, I still feel as though I’m riding on the coattails of others, receiving, and never giving. Even during college, I’ve always had the option, and the luxury, of being able to go home when there was trouble.
This time it’s different, however. Even though technology has come so far and I can now easily video chat with my friends and family from anywhere (while simultaneously looking at cat memes), the fact of the matter is I won’t be able to see them for a long time. And while this does make me extremely sad, maybe there is a silver lining in this dingy ol’ storm cloud.
I have the opportunity to find myself and to not only be physically independent, but emotionally and financially independent as well, and I’m not about to waste it.
It’s exciting and downright scary but I plan to make the most of it. Stay tuned, reader, to see where this goes!