I have written before that I tend to have really bad reverse culture shock. My senses are usually on hyper-alert. I notice, hear, and feel everything once I step off my plane. Then things die down a bit after a few days, and then my culture shock only comes out when I experience new things (but ordinary everyday things) and I feel stupid for not knowing how to do them or to expect them. This time around coming back has not been as bad as I thought it could be. I have only had a few moments of frustration for not knowing the simple stuff and only a few sad moments of realization that I wont be back in Korea after the summer….and in fact might never go back. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I was really tired with Korea and was truly ready to come back. Also I am excited for the next chapter of my life.
So here is a list of my first impressions of America. These are positive aspects and it might seem a little negative towards Korea but don’t worry next week I’ll share about my last impressions of Korea…. Gotta be balanced. 🙂
America: The Beautiful, The Bold and The BIG
(These are in no particular order.)
- Everyone is aware of their environment
Okay so maybe not EVERYONE but a lot more people are aware of who and what is around them compared to people in South Korea. There were so many times that I accidentally scared someone for being next to them waiting for a bus (even though I wasn’t quiet or anything). I feel that in America everyone acknowledges each other. In Korea there were times I would be looked at or noticed because I stood out as a foreigner. In America people seem to acknowledge people simply because they are people. I have actually been thinking about this for awhile and I wonder if this influences the feelings of loneliness and suicide rates. If you are seen just for being there it makes you feel at least noticed and seen. Just thought that would be an interesting study for someone to do.
- Things are cheaper
Oh man! This what a big shock to me this time around. I felt so rich when I came back to the US because things were just so much more cheaper than in Korea. This past year the exchange rate was a bad deal. I lost almost $200 for every 1000 I sent home. Then a meal at a fast-food place was like $8. Food in general were more expensive, for example, watermelon season was always awesome except was between 15-20 dollars. Since I had lived with those prices for three years I didn’t realize how expensive it really was. So when I was wasting time in the airport stores in DFW I got reverse sticker shock. I felt like I could buy EVERYTHING!
- A Car
I loved being able to just walk and ride mass transit. Where I am currently there isnt really a valid mass transit. So driving is a must. I have never (still not really) enjoyed driving but I have to say I love the convenience of having a car. Being able to pack up the car with stuff and move it from point A to point B is awesome.
- You Understand Me?
People actually speak English in the United States! I know strange right?! This is awesome. I missed being able to communicate with people. For example, asking the cashier at the store how their day was going or asking people for assistance with something. It has helped me adjust back to the culture, if I don’t understand something I can just ask.
- I Understand You? aka It Just Makes More Sense.
Even though I haven’t lived long term in the United States for the past three years and things have changed, I still understand the gist of how things work. I understand that to have an apartment I have to apply for one and I know how to apply for one. If I wanted to get my car registered or license plate changed I would know the steps that would be needed to complete that. I feel that the United States has already struggled and found a few “better ways” to doing things. This means that there are just some parts that make sense. There are rules, regulations and expectations to follow and though I sometimes break the social expectations because my brain reverts back to Korea, in the bigger picture there are justifiable reasons for why things are the way they are. In Korea I didn’t always see justifiable reasons. There were times when I would ask a Korean friend about why something was being done that way, and their answer was “Because its how we do it”…or…”That’s just how it’s been done.” Because the United States is my home country I just understand it.
This blog is not meant to be an Americentrism or ethnocentric post. Like I said next post will discuss the Korean things I miss. The United States has it’s problems but the list above are things that I have personally experienced that have helped me to adjust back into the American culture. Just like any culture there are good and bad elements and I just focused on the good.