The 3-Month Bitch


There is a sort of rule of thumb around these year-long teaching sojourns whereby the first few months are adventurous and exciting, full of new experiences and new people, thus making it easier to be away from your friends, and family, cats and dogs, food and television that you love so much. It is around this time, so the theory goes, that the '3-month itch' kicks in. I have very much reached this point.

The '3-month itch' consists of the following -
  • missing your friends and family so much that even people you barely like from home enter your consciousness and you crave their company
  • you salivate uncontrollably at the prospect of a decent slice of bacon or a full-bodied glass of beer
  • the aspects of the foreign culture in which you exist that were previously exhilarating and fascinating become annoying and even mundane
  • a mild depression descends that sits over everything that you do.
Well, at least it does in my case.

Please, don't get me wrong. We're having a great time here. Work has become much more fun and rewarding over the last few weeks and I really feel like I am making headway in terms of getting to know the children and my teaching is consequently improving. We are studying Korean and reaping the rewards that this pastime brings. We feel more embedded in the culture and find that people relate to us much better now that we are making an effort to learn the language. We feel settled in Seoul and have enjoyed exploring the city, especially the culinary side of things, and now feel almost at home here. We are certainly happy. The problem is, quite simply, missing home and there's nothing I can do about it other than man up and get on with it. So I shall.

Anyway, the most exciting thing to happen to us in recent weeks is that we received confirmation from Kendra's recruiter that she has been accepted into Cardiff Uni to do her PGCE and so we are getting closer to our first choice move for next year. Now we only have the small matter of Kendra getting her visa (and my getting into Uni, ahem) and we will be all set! Anyway, even if I don't get in, we will certainly be moving to Wales (presuming the visa application goes without a hitch) and we are very excited to move to an English-speaking country (sort of), relatively close to my friends and family. Thrilled, even. Only 9 months to go!

Anyway, I'm going to leave this very short post here as we have to go out soon but I have pledged to keep this blog up more often. There may be less pictures, the posts may be less interesting, but I shall be posting every passing thought that enters my head. If you wish to unsubscribe, I shall perfectly understand. I just won't talk to you anymore.

Oh and, very briefly, let me recommend that you check out my friend the Postman's blog, The Sententious Vaunter. If there was a way of doing this without him knowing I was kissing his arse then I would, of course, pursue it but, as I know he will read this, I suppose there is no way around it. However, this is a very, very well written blog which I know would be of particular interest to my father and sister due to the Postman's recent pursuit of his pilots license. However, I have absolutely zero interest in aviation and even I find it fascinating. I wouldn't wax lyrical about something like this unless I actually meant it. Give it a read. Seriously, it's brilliant.

Anyway, I'm gonna go eat some dak galbi. For those of you that know what that is, I'm sure you'll be jealous.

Take it easy.

Love, Smithy x


Postman said...

I know this itch, only I wasn't articulate enough to put a name or a set of symptoms to it. Your diagnosis is dead-on. Every expatriate goes through this, and I'm sure if any are reading this right now they'll know EXACTLY how it feels. You've described it quite well for those who wouldn't.

But I AM jealous. If it makes you feel any better, I'm an unemployed 23-year-old living in my parents' house who hasn't had a whiff of dak galbi in damn near five months. It's tough. The dakpokki cravings are the worst, though...only slightly alleviated by the copious amounts of Widmer Pale Ale and Samuel Adams Boston Lager I've been consuming.

Of course I'm going to read this blog, man. 'Cause it's brilliant. I've been checking Blogger every day, just waiting waiting waiting for your next post. I was going to shoot you an electronic kick in the butt on Facebook or something here soon. And that's not kissing arse (well, okay, maybe a little, just to be polite and reciprocate). It's the truth. Thank you for your recommendation and kindly praise. I mean it. I'm touched.

P.S. Did you arrange to meet with Obama? Or did he pass through already? I haven't caught the news lately.

Smithy said...

He's coming on Wednesday. My American co-teacher has sort of suggested that he might be allowed the afternoon off after lessons to try and see his President but it was dismissed out of hand. I'm quite thrilled about it actually. I'd love to try and see him. We live 2 minutes from the Yongsan US Army base which he's supposed to be paying a visit too so I'm sure security around here will be quite high. I'll try and get pictures.
Seriously though, I love your blogs about the flight lessons. Wonderfully written. The recent romantic fiction excerpt was quite nice as well. Do you ever write short stories? I was thinking we could try something the other day...I'll PM you about it. Maybe.
The daki galbi was outrageous tonight. It tasted kind of like a spicy chicken curry...amazing. We've also found a gamja-tang place which is out of this world. Do you miss Korea?

Sue Smith said...

Thanks for blog brilliant as usual. Impressed with how you recognise how you feel and proud of you getting through it. Well Done. We all miss you too!
Fantastic news about your plans for next year will be great to have you both in this country!)(Well Wales ) Cant wait to see the crazy city (quote) that you both live in not long now !!!

Postman said...

Are you kidding me?! Of course I miss Korea! Highest time I've ever had, in more ways than one. Grub was great, company even better. The culture was charming (mostly; about 30% of the time it was frustrating as hell), the food was delicious (even if I couldn't find a good burger to save my soul; at least they had Papa John's Pizza in Busan), the drinking was plentiful (even if the beer wasn't beer in the strictest sense), and the SIGHTS to SEE...man. I'm sorry I missed out on that abandoned jade mine up there in the northeastern provinces. You hear about that?

I don't suppose the Secret Service would object to you peeking over the air base fence with some binoculars...as long as they didn't know you were doing it. Watch yourself, my friend. They're an uptight bunch. I hope you get a look at him! Let me know how it goes. I keep hoping that one day I'm going to get a firsthand look at Princess Eugenie, but we're never on the same continent together, it seems. [Impassioned sigh]

Well, thanks again, pal. I mean it. I worry about whether I'm boring people to death or not. Glad to know you find them enjoyable and well-written. Means a lot to me.

You know, I used to write short stories when I was in high school, but I trailed off because they were all so blandly and insipidly juvenile. Kid stuff, that's all they were, cheap knockoffs of Watership Down. I really want to get back into it (maybe even give poetry a whirl, something I've NEVER been good at) but nothing's coming. My Muse seems to be concentrating all her creative force on this novel or something, I guess. I'm always interested in collaboration though. PM me by all means.
Aw, man! Come on! OF COURSE the dak galbi is outrageous when I actually ADMIT that I miss it. Figures. Sod's law, I think they call it. And gamjatang too! I only had that once down on the island, wasn't too big a fan (a lot of work and a LOT of spice).

Good luck with your Obama-watch. Let me know how it turns out. And thanks again, pal. You're a damn good writer yourself. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Interesting circle of conversation; as Obama is visiting you, Charles and Camilla are visiting my province in Canada. I didn't go see them, but there were some old women on the news that saw them, and even one had Camilla touch her dog; the way that woman reacted, she could've died that moment and been satisfied with her life's accomplishments. There's a intriguing amount of 70+ year olds in Canada that have great regard for the monarchy to this day, my own grandparents included.

Postman, you're insane. Gamjatang is the best food the Koreans have come up with.

I think you've defined the 3-month itch quite accurately; I can remember going through a similiar emotional set. I remember saying to myself how many people I was going to make every effort to go and see all the time when I got home; needless to say, I'm still due for plenty of visits.

The Pollinatrix said...

I feel like I've been an expatriate almost my whole life, since I grew up in Toronto, Canada, then moved to the American Deep South, then to the American Southwest. I'm always missing somewhere.

Since you seem to have a quite interesting mind, you won't be running me off by posting your every thought.

I heartily second your endorsement of The Sententious Vaunter. I, too, had no professed interest in aviation, but he's gotten me into it.

Postman said...

Dave! What about dakpokki, eh? Just what do you call whipped fish-bone paste, eh? Chopped liver? That stuff is gorgeous, I couldn't get enough of it. Or twigim, either. Bulgogi wasn't bad, either. Gamjatang, eh? You're a rare bird.

BWAH-HAHAHAHAHA! Two more converts to general aviation. Next step is to get you both flying. Thank you both for the lovely endorsements and kind thoughts.

ReturningWriter said...

I see your 3 month bitch and raise it to the 3 year itch... once you've been moving around so long, you get past the 3month bitch pretty well, you miss everyone, you miss everything but that gets easier... so you move on to the 3 year itch that is that you're fed up of where you are and are ready for the new place :) That's me. It also helps with the homesickness.

LOVE that you're going back to uni and thinking of writing - that's awesome! And for you both to get out there to Wales together will be the best thing you can do. I'm totally jealous, you will have a GREAT time.

Postman said...

Smithy! Guess what. I've nominated you for a blogging award. Check out my page if you want to see. It's not much, but I hope you like it.