This is part 5 in a 5 part series about how to make your EPIK job awesome! This final tip is an all-encompassing one: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Shake things off. Insert other cliche but true statements here.
This is NOT America (Insert your home country here)
Newsflash! South Korean culture is VERY DIFFERENT from our culture. It’s not like going from America to Europe where we place importance in similar things. A good mantra to have during your time here is “it’s not wrong, just different.” It’s beneficial to remind yourself of that when you hear yourself say out loud “well in AMERICAN schools we do it this way”. Most of us are temporary visitors in this country, and you should see yourself as an ambassador of your home country. We have a lot to learn from each other! So instead of painting all of our differences in a negative light, try to be intentional about seeking out the similarities between us and reminders that we really all want the same things in life.
It’s okay to have bad days
Expat life is hard! Living in another culture and not being able to use your mother tongue to do simple things like order food, send a letter, or pay bills can be really mentally taxing. Some days just feels like nothing can go right, and it’s okay to have bad days and vent to your fellow waygook friends about a frustrating situation at school or a drunk ajosshi. All of that is normal. But there is a line that needs to be drawn, and it goes back to our mantra “It’s not wrong, just different.” Korean people are not bad people. Far from it. But if you focus all of your negative energy on the daily frustrations with the culture, it starts to get really personal, and eventually you may find yourself having hostility toward Koreans in general. This is EXTREMELY toxic. Groups of foreigners who believe that Koreans are bad people tend to hang out together, so I encourage you to run away if you find yourself hanging out with someone like that. haha. I’ve often been accused of “seeing Korea in soft focus” by these people, meaning that I just live in a haze and don’t see all of the “negative” things going on around me. It’s not true at all, and if you follow our channel it’s obvious that we love Korea but are also critical of it, as we are of any society. I have bad days too when I want to hide away and pretend like I’m back in the US. But don’t let that go too far. Nurse a healthy mantra like “it’s not wrong, it’s different” in your mind and you’ll be fine.
We’re really lucky to be here
At the end of the day, it’s all about perspective. I often think about what I would be doing right now in America if I hadn’t come to Korea, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty. Evan has more tangible skills that pay well in the US ( he used to work in IT) but the things I would want to do in the US pay little to nothing in Washington DC, where I’d also be paying 1000/month for rent! We are really, really lucky to be here in Korea. We both have great, rewarding, stable jobs that pay well. We don’t pay rent. We live in a fantastic, beautiful, postcard worthy city. We are able to send about $1500 home a month to pay on our loans, and we’ll be debt free in a few years. Life couldn’t be better, really. All of us here are really lucky. A little perspective can go a long way in making life abroad wonderful.
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