At this point, I’ve been living in Korea for 3 months. Culture shock is hitting me hard. Much harder than I expected.
Everyone tells me that the first 3 months are the most difficult. Well I’m into my 3rd month now so I’m just trying to take each day as they come. Culture shock is a sneaky process. Lets go through it a bit, shall we?
First there was the “honeymoon phase” where I loved everything in Korea. For about the first month I thought everything was so cool. And it is, this is a crazy country. During the honeymoon phase I was in awe.
Then I noticed the awe beginning to fade. Suddenly I found aspects of life in Korea to be annoying. Koreans always walking in my path or bumping into me elicited an unnecessarily strong reaction. I found myself thinking of my previous home in LA more often and with a greater sense of longing.
Then Marc came to visit for a little over a week. Suddenly I wasn’t alone all the time. I had someone with whom I could explore Seoul. Someone who was familiar. Once he left, the culture shock really set in.
My solitude hit me like a ton of bricks and I found myself on a Thursday morning hiking down a mountain crying my eyes out. I let myself cry for a couple of hours and ever since then I have felt much better. I think I was trying to pretend that everything was fine, that I was happy and healthy when in reality I was hurting inside. It is HARD to move to a country where you know NOBODY and you can’t speak the language. Every day is a challenge. Making friends is a daunting task for me but I’m glad that I’m being forced to do it. However it’s exhausting and I needed a day to admit to myself that yes, I was hurting and yes, that was okay. It’s part of the process.
Moving to a new country is no easy adventure. It is an incredibly challenging and overwhelming one. But at the end of every day I have to conclude I am happy with the decision I made and wouldn’t go back to America yet even if given the opportunity.
I also recently bought a 3 months unlimited pass to a Bikram yoga studio in Gangnam. They do all of their classes in English. Most classes are 90 minutes long with a few 60 minute classes. It is exactly the physical challenge and mental clarity that I have been craving since arriving here. And now that I finally feel like I’m coming up for air after drowning in sorrow for weeks.