I try to not write negative posts, but I also want to keep my blog as honest as possible so here it goes…
It may come across that life is wonderful here in Korea and a lot of the time it is. But being an expat can be really hard sometimes and for myself and Jason it has been a bit harder recently.
A few Saturdays ago, myself and some friends went to a waterfall area in our city. It’s a beautiful area full of trees and has a lovely creek flowing through it. We brought a barbecue and our dogs and had a great time. We have come and barbecued here a few times, we never thought we were doing anything wrong and we always see Koreans do the same.
After having a great day, we were packing up to leave and a man and his wife came along. They started to take photos of us and the man was shouting at us, like we were doing something wrong. My friend, Lisa, got frustrated that they were taking our photos and asked them to delete the photos. The man actually raised his fist to her. He then made a phone call and left. Luckily we were leaving anyway.
We later found out that you aren’t supposed to barbecue in that area. There was such aggression in this man, We weren’t barbecuing when he came along but he felt the need to insert himself in to a situation and pull his weight.
But this incident unfortunately isn’t a secluded one. Just last week myself and Jason were crossing the road when Jason’s watch hit off of a mans hand and the mans phone dropped to the ground, Jason apologized to him. But the man came after us, raising his fists wanting to fight Jason. Luckily I jumped in front of Jason which made him stop.
This is the reason that I’m so excited to leave Korea. I’ve had a wonderful time here, but I feel like the longer I stay here the more unpleasant things that I witness and am powerless to change.
When I am by myself and walking our dog Willy, I have had so many incidents of older women screaming and shouting at me, just because. It is such a horrible situation to be in, especially when you are doing nothing wrong. (I am a responsible dog owner, so Willy is always on leash and I always carry poop bags)
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all Koreans are bad. Of course not! I have met so many amazing Koreans but I do hate the sense of entitlement that older Koreans have.
I respect my elders, that’s something that has been taught to me since I was young. But here in Korea, the elders believe that they can do whatever they want just because they are older. They constantly push and shove, shout at younger people and whatever they say goes.
Just this morning, my bus pulled in to the stop where myself and two of my students get off for school. An old man came and pushed one of my students off of the bus and shoved the other one out of the way, just so that he could get off the bus before other people. All three of us were in shock at how rude he had been, especially since they are only 11 years old.
This is also true in the workplace. The boss is king. If you are in a lower position you cannot disagree with your higher ups, even if you have a good idea or they are wrong. My principal last year wanted to punish me because I asked to take a week off for my “marriage leave”(it was in my contract and I chose a week that I wouldn’t be teaching textbook classes). He was so angry that I even asked that not only did he not grant it, he also tried to take away the vacation time that I had planned on going on my honeymoon…knowing full well that’s what I was doing.
It hurt me so much because I have never missed a class, been late or taken a sick day. I have a great relationship with all of my co-workers and my students. That was the point that I knew it was time for me to leave. Luckily, I got to take my vacation because contractually, I had to. But everyone was too scared to tell my principal, so they were going to pretend that I was sick. It was so frustrating to see all of this unfold.
I know that living in America will be difficult. We’ll have more bills, higher prices and probably lower wages but we’ll have voices. We’ll be able to stand up for ourselves without fear of retribution, we’ll be able to explain our point of views in a calm manner and we’ll be able to stand up for ourselves when bully’s try to bring us down.
Korea, I love you, but it’s definitely time to say goodbye (In September).
I was very nervous about publishing this as I really don’t want to come across unappreciative of everything that Korea has given me or unappreciative of the many wonderful Koreans that I know and love, it can just be hard living in a completely different culture sometimes.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.