Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thoughts Outside of the Fugue

So my last post was me deep in a "Stage Two" fugue (also known as the 'I hate everything about my host country' stage). Speaking from a more analytic point of view, here are the real reasons behind why living in Seoul is difficult for me.

Seoul is a gigantic city. Absolutely huge. Most destinations are a 30 minutes to an hour and a half away by the subway. This travel time, plus the sheer mass of people (see population density) makes doing anything outside of our neighborhood exhausting. I am not a city boy. In case you are wondering, I consider Portland to be a very large town, Port Townsend to be a medium-sized town and Chimicum is a small town.

Language is a barrier and I do not have typical interests. Sara and I are constantly processing all that we are going through and we constantly have to stop and remind ourselves that we are not "normal Americans". I've been thinking, "What would happen if I were plopped down in the middle of some central or southern American city?" Kansas City or Dallas, for example. Would I hate it as much as we hate living in Seoul?

I don't watch TV, I am not fond of going out to bars or clubs, I love bicycles, I love nature, I like to eat healthy food, and I like a supportive community. Just at that small list, I would not fit in with a lot of people. That said, I know that I would be able to find people in Kansas City of Dallas who I would fit in with. This is where the language barrier comes into play. Finding a group of like-minded Koreans is all but impossible, so what I'm left with is the impression that the entire city is filled with impatient TV zombies.

The conclusion? Seoul is not a good fit, but it is teaching me a lot about my values. I originally left Portland feeling like I was being smothered by a delightful bubble of librality. I now understand how much I enjoy the lifestyle, the values and the culture, although Portland definitely lacks in diversity. I could have told you that before I left, but you never know you miss something for sure until you don't have it.


1 comment:

Justin Hahn said...

you know, facebook is great for finding like-minded korean friends. for real. search within you network for your interests, and you'll find at least a few groups with members you'll be happy socializing with.