21.9.11

Reverse-Reverse Culture Shock



During my summer in Canada, before bedtime, after a day of piling wood or mowing grass, lying on the beach or eating bacon, I would often take a walk around the house or a seat on the patio, and attempt to count the stars. I hardly grew up in the city, but never before had I seen a sky so completely covered with tiny, twinkling spotlights as those summer nights in the Canadian country. The silence was glorious, if not a little intimidating. I have never experienced a more peaceful mind.

Last night, before bedtime, I took the lift down from my 10th floor Bucheon apartment, and took a walk around my building. I looked left, looked right, and looked left again, stepped out of my doorway, and jumped desperately out of the way of a kamikaze chicken delivery man on a scooter. At 1am. On a footpath. I looked up, shielding my eyes from the neon Norae-bang and PC-bang signs, and strained to find the stars. On a clear night, I saw not a single one.

We are 1 day short of a week into our 3rd contract in South Korea and in many ways it feels like we've never been away. After a brief fling with a civilised public school existence, we're back to whoring ourselves out to the cut-throat hagwon industry. We had our reasons, trust me. It is important that I remember them in these difficult early days.

Canada, and the UK even more so, seems an awfully long way away. Without internet or a mobile, it is almost possible that I feel more cut off from the world now than I did in rural Ontario, despite the non-stop noise and business flooding 24 hours a day through my senses.

I definitely underestimated what a huge shock to the system my return to Korea would be.

Love, Smithy x



4 comments:

Forte said...

you will call me an old git for this but one day, when you're stuck in a high pressure long hour job you will look back at these days with great fondness. Still, can't believe you've gone back for another helping!

Smithy said...

You old git.

Postman said...

You got in ahead of me, you bob-tailed bastard! And Bucheon, no less! Gawd, the State Department's being permanently shit-listed after this.

Ahhh, the kamikaze chicken delivery men. I (almost) remember them fondly.

Stick to it, buddy, matters will improve in the coming weeks (as you well recall).

Jane Jones said...

Hmm, I think a complete change of culture like that is often what is needed to remind us of why we subject ourselves to living overseas... the good and the bad. It puts things in perspective, because when you are too close it is hard to see things clearly.