Friday, September 12, 2014

Singing the homesick blues: August sucked.

I don't know what it is about August, but each and every August since I moved over here has sucked.

Oh wait. 

I know exactly what it is. I get a blip of awesome summer family time, and then I return to my "new normal" (as I like to call it) during a muggy, hot, rainy month and everything starts to grate on my nerves. The staring. The spitting. The being-an-outsider-in-a-mostly-homogeneous-country. Homesickness comes and goes. Such is expat life. Such is adult life, right?

It takes me a while to adjust when I go back to Texas for a visit, then it takes me a while to adjust again when I return to Korea. Change is hard and adjustments are awkward.

I rarely blog/post/tweet about the not-so-positive side of this life, mostly because I'm an optimist, plus I don't want to be a whiner, not to mention I listened to Thumper's father: "if you can't say something nice, don't say nothin at all." Sometimes people see facebook/blog/instagram posts full of adventure and goodness and make comments to me as if this life is ALWAYS AWESOME 100% OF THE TIME. It is not. That's just the highlight reel part of my life that I want to look back on and remember with fondness. But, in the name of honesty or transparency or whatever, expat life is not always glamorous.

There are plenty of things that aren't fun, here and there, we just don't instagram them. Usually. I've written before about playing the comparison game and the funk I was in last fall when I wrote about seasons. Everything is a trade-off. When I'm here, I'm not there. That sounds like a 'duh' comment, but I think it's worth remembering. When I'm posting pictures of a beauuuutiful ecological garden, I'm missing the Texas sky. When I'm sharing a bingsu (Korean ice flake and ice cream dessert) with a friend from South Africa, I'm not eating a steaming platter of fajitas diablos with my family. I'm not complaining; life is all about trade-offs.


My good friend Calli just had a baby and has been extremely honest with everyone about the struggles of having a newborn, even though the struggle is absolutely worth it. She told me "My life is not a pinterest board, and if I can share my insight with friends who may one day be where I am, then why not [be honest]? We live in a world of staged perfection and unrealisitic expectations of ourselves and others. New moms need to hear that they're not the first to struggle." 

Is she full of wisdom OR WHAT???

I feel like that's a good reminder for me over here, not as a new mom, but as someone who has taken on a different big challenge. Sometimes it is a struggle. It is still worth it. Maybe a new expat, or someone who wants to become an expat, needs to hear that it's ok to be homesick. It doesn't mean you're a failure at living outside your culture.

Another friend recently moved to Uganda (check out what MJ's doing here) and is having those familiar new-expat-what-am-I-doing-here feelings. She told me that my move and this blog helped motivate her to get up and go. WHAT. What. an. honor! We talked about the adjustment, cultural frustrations, how different our countries are but how being a foreigner is the same...ish. We talked about homesickness and the dichotomy of wanting solitude to recharge, but the loneliness that sets in when you have too much alone time (it's a fine line between the two!). We talked about missing friends and how hard it is to connect to friends at home once the novelty of having a friend overseas wears off. We talked about how valuable it is to have friends with whom you can be SUPER HONEST about the struggles, sharing more than the happy sound bite of "everything is an adventure, it's such an experience!" Not everyone wants the honest truth, but some people reach out anyway.

This all motivates me to more open honesty. So...


I got back to Korea in mid-August and I sat in my apartment watching the rain fall through my window, over the cemetery across the street. It rained for two weeks. I read book after book, watched movies, but I missed the closeness of people with whom I could do nothing and just be, together. Does that make any sense? It was lonely. Most of my friends were still out of town/the country, several had moved away. I was busy on the weekends, going up to church, but I had a ton of alone time during the week with nowhere to go (ugh, rain, ruining all my hiking plans) and nothing to do. It was boooring. I tried to go to the beach but 1. surprise, it rained and 2. I caught a cold so, bummer.

Too much alone time drives me mad. This girl was made for community. I want roommates. Or at least a dog.

"Loneliness and solitude are two things not to get confused, cause I spend my solitude with you." 
Therapy ~ Relient K

I think I have had too much time off this year. Call me crazy, I know. I love having all the vacation time that comes with my job at the university, but it's... it's hard to explain, I guess.

It sounds like I'm majorly complaining along the lines of #FirstWorldProblems, ugh, y'all I have too much vacation, poor me, BUT I like my job. I love to be productive. Life in the fast lane! I needed routine, y'all. It is not good for man, or this girl, to be alone. Genesis 2:18, ja?

I'm never quite ready for summer to be over, but MAN ALIVE I was sure ready for September to begin!! I was ready to meet my students, get the semester in gear, prep for lessons, see all my co-workers, return to a busier schedule. I love me some structure. (And then, being me, I love to break the rules once I have the structure in place.)

And so. 

Korea has been lately reminding me of why I love it here. 

I've readjusted, friends have returned, the sun has come out. September has arrived. Another wave of homesickness has passed. God is good.

To be continued...

Bingsu and bubble tea with one of my faaaavorite South Africans

Suncheon Bay Ecological Park 

Enjoying the rain with my new friend Maria 

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