Written by Verity Innet, who just left.
So you’ve been in Korea a year, maybe more. You miss home, your family, your friends, the ease at which you can communicate with people. Perhaps you want a career that doesn’t involve your co-teacher undermining your every attempt to be a ‘good teacher’. Makes sense to pull the plug on this Neverland (as one friend succinctly put it), grow up, move home & become the wonderful successful person you know you will be once you stop getting drunk 5 nights a week.
STOP! DON’T DO IT! STAY IN KOREA!
Here is why:
1. There is no children’s park you can hang out & drink in which would not be swiftly followed by arrest.
2. Similarly, drinking Special Brew outside your Sainsbury’s Local is really only a hobo habit.
3. Same-same just isn’t the same-same outside Korea (i.e. it doesn’t exist. And how do you know you’re in love if you’re not wearing matching outfits?)
4. Hello Kitty is a brand even your 14 year old sister has grown out of. No longer acceptable to put Hello Kitty stickers on everything. Hello boring stationery. Boooooooo.
5. Sure, you can step out the front door & go for a walk in the country easy-as-pie, but where’s the fun in hiking with no ajumma’s pushing past you in full-body UV protection?
6. Seoul’s subway system is awesome. Clean, comfortable & cheap. I complained when the minimum fare increased to W1,050. Why? It costs £7 (about W15,00) for a day’s London travel pass. I nearly threw myself under a train in protest.
7. All the Americanisms (American English is the best! Down with British English!) you pick up through teaching must be immediately dropped from your vocabulary in case of insults: ‘Math? MATH? It’s Maths in England, or have you forgotten your former 28 years living here?’
8. It takes a while to get out of the little cultural habits you pick up. Therefore, you find yourself accepting everything with 2 hands because, honestly, it feels unnatural & rude not to. And bowing your head is just second nature too. In Korea, these are common courtesies. In England, people look at you funny.
9. You have no choice but to listen to other people. And they expect responses too! A quizzical, apologetic look which gets you out of every sticky language-barrier situation in Korea just doesn’t cut it here. Turns out I really enjoyed being slightly zoned out of my surroundings for 18 months. Life was quieter.
10. Worst of all, there are far fewer dogs in amusing costumes. Sad face : (
This list does not include the blatantly obvious: earning many money, not paying rent, having lots of like-minded friends just a short & cheap subway ride away. I never did figure out the buses.
Oh, and 11. There are no more instances where saying ‘Oh, Korea’ while shaking your head is an acceptable end to a conversation.
Got any more? Add them in the comments below.
Pictures by Verity