home again, and another month flies by
September 30, 2010 § Leave a comment
September is almost over, and in 36 hours or so I’ll be back in Seoul. This has been a really busy and really fantastic month. Mostly, I spent time with my family, who I hadn’t seen in 9 months, and friends who I hadn’t seen in a year. It was so, so good to see everyone and indulge in all the comforts of American life…dryers, bathtubs, cheese, good beer, pumpkin bread, pets, personal space. I had a breather from work and more time to do design projects and work on my sketchbook, as well as focus on the ‘monster month’ of marathon training. I’ve run 170 miles this month, and completed my longest marthon training run yesterday (20 miles). The next 3 weeks will be my ‘taper’, and then its race time. Scary and exciting! It’s fortunate that I have the marthon training to counterbalance the bar crawls, dinners out, potlucks, dinners in, and treats that coming home for a month entails. Plus, the weather has been beautiful and I’ve been able to get outside and enjoy the clean air and open spaces Kansas has to offer. Design-wise, I’m working on the Chuncheon Marathon tshirt design, nursery art for my new cousin who will be arriving in December, and my sketchbook.
Coming back to the States after spending such a long time abroad was a great but strange experience. I’ve come to believe that there are things you can’t really know about yourself, or your home country, until you move abroad. Most people call this reverse culture shock but I think its just a learning experience. My number one reverse culture shock experience came in the Honolulu Airport – as soon as I got off the plane it immediatley struck me how large, loud, and overbearing Americans can be in contrast to Koreans. I also had sticker shock on everything, and quickly realized how my lifestyle in Seoul would be wayyy extravagant in America with American prices. Also, during the controversy surrounding various aspects of 9/11 this year, I felt especially annoyed at Americans’ inclination to create and exaggerate controversy at every opportunity. This isn’t to say that I agree with how everything is in Korea, I just think I never would have had these thoughts if I hadn’t lived in Korea for a year.
Another area of strangeness for me was the familiarity of Lawrence…everything is more or less that same, but I feel differently towards it now that I’m not wrapped up in the community here. I still like it, but I feel less attached to it, and it feels like less of a big deal than it did a year ago. Also, being back in a college town made me feel a little bit old. My favorite thing to reminisce about from college is house parties, but actually going to a house party now wasn’t quite the same. I’ve spent a lot of my time with my friends here talking about this stuff, and I think we’ve all just changed a little bit…all just a tiny bit more grown up. Weird. Weird. Weird. I expect things will be even more different next time I return, next Christmas. The plan is to teach in Korea for 13 months, travel in Europe for a month or so, come home for Christmas, go to South America, come back, get real about life and illustration. Hmm. We’ll see how that goes.