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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Go figure, I'm human!

After 3.5 months of being in love with Seoul, Korea's gave me my first dose of culture shock!  And!  It's reminded me that I'm human and susceptible to human things.  (Hooray for humbling experiences!)  Honestly, I though I was untouchable in this area.  I've traveled abroad a lot, I love cultures, I love people, and I love Seoul.  How could I possibly get negative vibes from this place?  Well, surprise, I still go through certain emotions just like everyone else.  Lindsay, you're loved, but you're not the best thing ever.
("Thanks, God.  I needed that.")

God beating down my pride is always a good thing, but the culture shock can be a little upsetting. All of a sudden I realized that people see me as a foreigner here.  Back home, I used to enjoy being a certain kind of different.  Here, though, it's just because of the shape of my nose and eyes.   It's just automatic when the people here make when they just see my face.  There's no need to look into my personality or my heart, they know that I am "other."  I've stopped looking people in the eyes on the street and the subway because I don't want to catch them looking at me. 

I'm doing fine, don't worry.  I've talked to many good friends who care about me about it, and they've been able to offer excellent insight and compassion, both of which have been necessary and extremely helpful for moving on.  With counsel, I've been able to identify this as culture shock and, this is so cool, now that it's been labeled, it's not an enemy anymore.  It's normal, I'm not freaking out, and I'm not going to stay in this phase.  Awesome!
The coolest part: I'm not alone.

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For more thoughts on living in a foreign country, check out my Open Letter to Expats.

2 comments:

  1. Did you ever read the book English Teaching as Christian Mission? It has lots to say about culture shock.

    I always thought of culture shock as something immediate, like a jolt of electricity, but the book suggested a more insidious kind. How people can begin to harbor negative feelings about the way they are received in a host country, developing and recycling a tension for months until it poisons their view of everything in the country. It takes experiences like you've just described and lets you despise them (perhaps not just the incident, but the people, too), creating an attitude that neuters any ability to do good or love while they are there.

    This "culture shock" is no shock at all. It creeps upon you, and you silently and obliviously absorb it until your heart is dead.

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  2. I haven't heard of this book, no. I've read a good deal and studied culture shock before for my mission trips a while back. I do wish I'd heard this explanation, though. It makes much more sense this way, and I totally agree.

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