Avatar
Jaine *
287,320 views| 172  Posts

Kiwi in Korea 7 - should I stay or should I go

Went to Busan again on Friday.  Kahurangi had an appointment with an orthodontist who speaks fluent English (I advertised on pusanweb (expat classifieds) and was recommened him).   It was great he went to High School in Christchurch NZ (Christ College for those Kiwi's on here) and could understand my accent, in fact he has NZ citizenship.    He was very kind and even feed us (kimbab) coz he knew we had travelled for a couple of hours to get to his clinic.  If you ever need a dentist in Busan, I recommend Dr Kwon.

Kahurangi is still very homesick and quite frankly, so am I.  I try and put a brave face on it and some days are good but mostly I am counting down the time to go home.  I actually don't want to spend a year like that.  It isn't that everything here is terrible, I like Korean food and the people are pretty much like the people in Nelson - friendly for the most part.   I just miss home, I miss food that I am used to (olives, olive oil, butter, good whole grain bread, herbs like thyme, cheese, natural unsweetened yoghurt, chickpeas, pesto, hummus, pork sausages, lean cuts of chicken, salmon, peanut butter, vegemite, freshly squeezed juice (that doesn't have a ton of sugar added), organic food...).  I miss talking at a normal pace (talking slowly all the time is actually quite exhausting).   I miss living by the ocean and swimming in it when I get hot. 

The teaching is another thing, I like teaching and working with people of all ages but I can't say I'm passionate about English and I feel like a fraud most of the time.   If I was just teaching at the High School I would probably cope a bit better but I find the Middle School quite stressful.  The classes are larger and the age group is tougher (13-15) (this is true anywhere not just Korea) but also the teachers, although very kind are a bit odd.  My co-teacher counts up and points out exactly how many students have not understood me which makes me feel inept and the vice principal when we went out to lunch corrects my faux pas loudly and by exaggerating my behaviour as to make it look oafish even by Western standards and I certainly don't behave like that.  This embarrassed me and pissed me off.  K and I are tired of being the local zoo exhibit.   I don't know how long I will be here but don't be surprised if I go sooner rather than later.

Okay whinge over, here are some photos of the trip:

 on the bus, the old and the new

   on the bus- I love the pastel colours of the apartments to the right.

 first time I have been in a backpackers that was an apartment in a highrise.  The guy on the laptop has been travelling for 7 years while working on his computer. He is going to buy an apartment in Rio de Janero.  I want his job.

 Seomyeon Subway Station - always be prepared.

 Someone catches 40 winks on multi-coloured chairs at the Sasang Bus Terminal. 

over 12 years ago 0 likes  19 comments  0 shares
Photo 5614
yea, it gets pretty difficult to leave home... some things are just not the same... It's understandable... but hopefully that feeling won't drag you down... =)
over 12 years ago
Photo 11131
I understand how you feel. Give yourself more time to adapt & decide. We will support you.
over 12 years ago
Photo 23799
awww, sorry to hear that it's not exactly going smoothly for you. that co-teacher isn't very helpful now (pointing out the number of students who don't understand instead of thinking of a way to remedy the situation? hmmm)... would finding a caucasian supermarket and support group/ friends help? i remember being ecstatic when i found an organic supermarket selling caucasian stuff... i know it's hard. ultimately, it's up to you and your daughter. have you guys discussed it? any goals set out (like, we'll try for 3 more months, and then decide, etc...)?
over 12 years ago
Photo 28042
Since you're at this point and since your sensitivity level is enhanced because of the situation, maybe you'd feel better if you took charge. Something like...."I know I'm here for a new experience and everyone has been so nice, but I am having a few problems adjusting to a few things and I need your help. Since I'm here to teach English I think it would be helpful for both the students and my co-workers to learn not only the language but also a bit about generally accepted etiquette in English-speaking countries. Understanding what will offend people is as important as being able to speak in English, maybe more. If you offend someone, they just stop listening to what you say. As I have learned here I would never do this to a Korean: ________________. Similarly, here are a few things that you have done to me which, if you would do the same in NZ, would really offend someone. For example: ____________________. I must admit, it also upset me a little bit but I keep thinking to myself "I am here to learn." But primarily I am here to teach. I hope you don' t mind my introducing this subject and I'd like to incorporate these lessons into my classes and if you don't mind, I'd also like to be able freely point out when you nice people are doing something which would offend a Westerner. Isn't the purpose of this school to teach people to be able to speak to and communicate with Westerners in their language? That's good, because that's what I plan to do. I'm glad we had this chat." Then if he has a fuck you look on his face, at least you've communicated your displeasure, and then from now on call them out on these things, in a non-public way. If it looks like you're trying to help them learn Western ways, it's easier to accept than saying you just offended me. I don't think this will work with the public viewing you as Western freaks. But that's what you are. Let your freak flag fly.
over 12 years ago
Img 3417
what are these? fire safety jackets?
over 12 years ago
Photo 16256
These are gas masks, are they not?
over 12 years ago
Photo 16256
Have someone at home send you a care package with the essentials, e.g. vegemite, pb, cans of olives, etc. Might be an expense but I'm sure someone will do it for you. I would if I could. ;) Sorry to hear you're not getting the royal treatment. You really ARE their specimen and some people have attitudes sticking outta their butts. Hang in there. Perhaps taking more side trips and being around other expats (from any nation) will help. You guys can share stories about your experiences and stuff.
over 12 years ago
Jrs 8c 1405439596528
Flagday has some excellent advise....my only addition would be this: "Be the adult." Never lower yourself to childish behaviour...I believe they're "baiting" you. Be in control, be polite, always smile....never raise your voice. In fact, when in a situation with the vice principal where he/she (?) is getting louder, do the opposite...speak softer. He/she will have to strain to hear you and that always takes the edge off of a nasty situation. I have faith in you, Jaine!!!! I know you miss your old life but just think how much more you'll appreciate it when you return to NZ! Right now, just think of this as an alien-exchange program of sorts! haha! Be like water...go with the flow.
over 12 years ago
Photo 43083
Looks like everyone else has already made the best suggestions .. all I can say is "Listen" to them & "hang in there" :)
over 12 years ago
Photo 29080
I hope you have the opportunity to discuss some of these happenings with people who have walked the walk of the expat themselves. Cynda taught English when she first went to China & would have lots of advice if you asked her I bet. You need to talk to ppl who walked a mile in your shoes, so to speak, and who are familiar with Asian culture. Kara is another member who moved to China to teach English. If you don't have the info, how can you determine if public critique of mistakes is the way things work or is only directed at YOU, two very different circumstances & meanings. Even while you're figuring this out, perhaps Flagdays approach would yield the most immediate practical results & would go far to ease the situation. You'll know whether it's right to stay or go, it's you & K having all these experiences & I think you'll just know. The flip side to the coin is what others have said, getting to travel & see things in an amazing part of the world. That's a lifelong memory for the two of you. It's been almost 10 years since I was in China & the experiences & sights were so unique, so special, I can conjure up a full tilt memory of a moment, an interaction, a sight, just by thinking about it. That's a great & rare thing in life & it would be fantastic for you & K to have it. But...only you'll know how it all measures up & if it's worth it for you & K to stay. I'd encourage giving it a really good go for sure with all the trouble it took to get there. Who know's what new surprises of a positive nature the passing of time will bring. : ) I'm sending you a PM later, need to get off the computer to get something done for now. :)
over 12 years ago
Photo 1967
Oh, I hope it gets better. I don't have any great advice other than to speak to other people like you.
over 12 years ago
Photo 31984
G H
I hope things get better Jaine... I'm with Shorty - speak with those who are also in the same boat =) Miss ya
over 12 years ago
Photo 38860
hahhahaa..it ok to be homesick....i been to city for the past 8 years and i went home only on christmass ...sometime i feel trrrible missing everyone at home
over 12 years ago
Photo 16256
How did you find this position? After all your effort, it seems a shame to return before your time is due. Is there a way to find you a position closer to the bigger cities? I'll even send you some PB and olives!
over 12 years ago
Photo 911
Are those white buildings in front of the mountain?
over 12 years ago
Photo 34078
*hugs* Jaine, I had a feeling that your homesickness was getting to you and it's only natural. Afterall this was quite a big move and I'm sure there's a good amount of culture shock for you and K to deal with along with the whole language barrier and shift in lifestyle. It's a shame your co-teacher and vice principle are giving you a hard time. They probably think they're being helpful but are going about it in totally the wrong way. I would really hate to see you come this far only to give up so soon but then again, I'm not in your shoes. Is there any way at all that you can make a transition into a more urban environment and teaching at a high school? Is there an expat support group that you can join? I agree with the others, that maybe talking with some others who are in the same boat may help. I'll support you whatever you decide to do. If you want, I'll even post you some food :)
over 12 years ago
Photo 35692
Oh Jaine, I wish I could give you a hug right now. It is really hard to go to a new place. I know I questioned even my little 2-hour move to Cincinnati! I agree with Butter....find a support network of expats. As far as your boss making fun of you...that was mean and hurtful, but try not to take it personally. Ridicule is a means of social control--he was probably ridiculed himself. As long as you are respecting others, like I know you are, you do not need to change who you are. I got so mad at a friend for telling me I talked too loud. Ugh. Anyway, I also want to encourage you to stick it out, and to maybe look into teaching older kids. There's a reason why it's a year: ) It will get better my friend!
over 12 years ago
Default avatar
JS
These count in the cryo game!, remind me of the old school chairs.
over 12 years ago
Default avatar
JS
Sounds a great dentist, very friendly too.Makes seeing someone about your health a lot less worrisome. No matter how great a place is, it's always hard to forget home, and it must be very tiring feeling like a tiger in a cage. I'm not sure I could do it anymore, I hope things work out for you both. Ditto on having the computer backpacker guy's job!
over 12 years ago

About

"Under the sky, under the heaven, there is but one family" - Bruce Lee please fan me only I don't accept friend requests from people I don't know

Learn More

Languages Spoken
english
Location (City, Country)
New Zealand
Gender
female
Member Since
August 10, 2007

Jaine * on Social Media