Monday, April 09, 2007

Culture Shock: Stage 2

I've moved a lot in my life...so I recognize this pattern but it's a little different in another country as opposed to another state. There are 5 stages of culture shock. When I first read about them, I thought...yeah, that won't happen to me. I'm cool. I'm down. I'm hip.
That was during phase one: The honeymoon phase.
Everything was exciting and scary in that sort of adrenaline rush sense of scary.
Now I think I've hit phase two: denial.
I'm starting to feel isolated by the cultural divide. I still like living here, but I notice the cracks on the sidewalk and I'm becoming really really really frustrated by my lack of ability to communicate. Lumina is in India and I miss her. I spend most nights home alone because it takes so long to get anywhere. I paid 8 dollars for a tub of sour cream. I eat dinner with Koreans who all speak in Korean to each other and all I can do is comment YET AGAIN on how delicious the food is and how pretty my friends are. The novelty has worn off. I called my mom. She told me to practice my Korean more. She's right. But what she doesn't understand is that the sounds are so foreign to my tongue. I feel like I'm talking with big jello cubes in my mouth. And when I do talk, it's just cute. not serious. and usually wrong. kkkk..kweupta. I have things to say, damnit! I'm funny and substantive and a little too intense for my good.

Sigh. So after a good long weep fest on saturday where I rode out to the school (the fact that I have to teach all day saturday this month is not helping) with my sunglasses on, I decided to try again. Maybe that's how seoul will be for a little while...like the gospel. I have to rechoose it every day. Everyday I have to wake up and say, it's not too hard and if it is, I can start over tomorrow....
Then I made sock puppets with the kids...

And wandered the streets around my house. I found this old bell tower that caught my fancy (my flash was being weird..t.he pictures are pretty dark)




I ate a creepy corndog-like meat product with sweet ketchup on it from a vendor, bought a cheap but cute little notebook for new vocabulary words and then watched a dance production in insadong right near my house.

I prayed to see things with new eyes and it worked. I still felt lonely, but I realized that there is beauty everywhere. I felt truly like Heavenly Father had let me see it just to comfort me. And in a fit of unrestrained committment to my new life in Korea.... I defrosted my freezer. I'm staying, Seoul...and I'm going to need to freeze things.

2 comments:

lenalou said...

I wish I had something more helpful to say than 'hang in there' - but do...
In the mean time, as you said about me when I lost my voice - you are Ninny Beth and you have lots of interesting and witty things to say -you're just not saying them right now. But you will.
And I am highly amused by Salon Zen. THough I might sue.

Natalie said...

Ahhh culture shock. I too thought I was immune to it. I didn't think I was in the honeymoon phase, I just thought that Taiwan was perfect! Until one day I noticed that adults wore scooter helmets, but they didn't put them on the children! My perfect Taiwan world came crashing down : )