Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What Korea has given me...

Two years ago, I was wracked with anxiety about my plans to move half way around the world to a country I knew next to nothing about, leaving a career (and hobbies and a volunteer position) I loved and family and friends who were awesome. Living abroad has been a lifelong dream of mine (I grew up hearing stories of my parents' time in Ecuador with the Peace Corps), but I'd always been too afraid to do it. I am *so* glad I did.

Korea has given me...

--greater acceptance, and (more surprisingly and amazingly) even admiration, of myself.
--an understanding of the culturally determined parts of my head and the ability to let go of the ones I don't particularly care for.
--a (future) husband!
--patience, especially with transportation issues and difficult communication issues at the workplace.
--greater trust in the good of humanity.
--more appreciation of interdependence and community and the need to foster it.
--an increased thirst for adventure.
--a passion for taekwondo and swing dance (ironically, an art originating in my native land).
--a relativistic understanding of "exotic."
--a greater tolerance for situations requiring me to be outgoing, and the subsequent understanding that I, too, can be charming and win friends easily if I so desire.
--appreciation for the American education system as fostering creativity and independence.
--the ability to describe a person's face without relying on color (of eyes, hair, skin, etc.).
--an addiction to kimchi not likely to be overcome in the future.
--the chance to feel what's it's like to be a minority (albeit a relatively favored minority, but unlike PG county where I was also a minority, the power structure here is not my culture/race).
--a firm belief that should the young, beautiful (and unfortunately superficial) women of Korea could learn to harness the overwhelming power and wisdom of the ajumma from a younger (and perhaps more fashionable) age, they would rule the universe.
--a belief that I can do anything I want. I mean anything. Seriously, it's like I'm a second grader again.

...and about a thousand other things I can never hope to repay.

Sure... there have been downsides. Missing my sister's last year of high school and other markers of her passage to adulthood has been the hardest. Not being there for my dad and (now) my mom as they suffered from health issues is a very close second.

But choosing to come here is almost certainly in the top-five for "good decisions" I've made.

Thank you, 대한민국.

2 comments:

  1. It's the "husband" part that makes ME laugh the most about my life in Korea. I NEVER thought I'd find a husband there. My original Korean plans were very, very different.

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  2. I agree, Korea has been really good for you. If you read through your blog from the early days until now you can see the change in your attitude towards yourself.

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