Re-integration

Just lately I’ve been feeling homesick. I’m coming up to the 5 month mark now and the honeymoon period has inevitably made way for the next phase in the traditional culture-shock model, known as re-integration. 

At this stage nothing feels new any more and the initial excitement of being immersed in a different culture has worn away. Nowadays I find myself getting frustrated with the cultural differences and increasingly hostile towards the locals. I often feel anxious or agitated and can be overly-sensitive about relatively trivial issues at work and outside. 

Progressively I’ve felt less inclined to socialise in favour of withdrawing into the chaotic little sanctuary I’ve established in my apartment, to daydream about a romanticised fantasy version of the country I left behind. 

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I know this reaction to culture-shock falls firmly under ‘EXACTLY WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE EXPERIENCING CULTURE SHOCK!!!’ so in a bid to snap myself out of it I’ve made a list of the things I like about South Korea. To remind myself that for all of the ways that SK is inferior to the heavily-embroidered England in my head, it also has its good points that I’ve conveniently forgotten about while I’ve been moping.

– Jolly Ajummas – the two old ladies who now regularly have the delight of scrubbing me and my friend down at my local jimjilbang. They speak zero English and we might as well speak zero Korean. Zero problem 

– Mystery Mega-Watt Smile Lady – who comes into the office in the morning to deliver the mail (?) while the rest of the teachers are in their homerooms. I’ve tried really hard to maintain my tortured brooding in the presence of The Smile. Not possible

– Handsome Bank Man – his handsomeness never fails to cheer me up. As helpful as he is handsome, I’ve found it difficult to add him to my REASONS I’VE SUDDENLY DECIDED KOREA IS CRAP list
 
– End Of My Street Shop Guy – loves to give me random edible freebies and chat about his love for British football and the stoicism of Queen Liz
 
– Studes – however would definitely feature on my other list too
– I’ve also got a great bunch of friends, probably the best going actually
– Duryu Park
– Aelia Coffee Shop and the infinite number of equally cute alternatives anywhere you go
– The various, readily accessible mountain ranges
– My local jimjilbang – is like someone’s bathroom compared to others but its packing character
– The traditional market by my apartment and the little family-run open-air cafe there where I can get my dinner for all of £1.20
– The botanical gardens
– Kieran’s floor
– DVD-bangs
– Norebangs
– Pap bin su, ddukbokkie, dakjuk, hoeddeok, yangnyeom tongdak and beanpaste filled batter fish things for eats
– Unintentionally poetic stationary
– The bromance culture
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