osan side street

Remember when I said that it hadn’t hit me yet that we were in another country across the world?

Well – it hit me.

I officially miss Kansas, I feel strange here, and I’m struggling with a few things.

That doesn’t make this move a bust, it just makes me human.

your face

I still have a smile on my face most days. There have been a few rough patches I have to admit. But it’s not really about liking/disliking Korea. I love Korea. It has more to do with stress – the stress of figuring out what works for us, how to get around, and dealing with the differences.

Our life is different

We went from having our own home with a huge back yard and plenty of freedom to an apartment with no yard and lots of loud neighbors.

We went from a lively homeschool group to one that we haven’t even gotten in touch with because they have very little space to meet.

Our church situation has changed also – which we knew it would. We are thankful that we have found a church where we feel welcomed and where we can worship. It’s just hard to connect with people outside of Sunday because people come from all over the Seoul metro area.

Korea is different

We haven’t had so much of a culture shock I don’t think because we did a lot of “research” before we left, and we had the attitude coming here that we were going to immerse ourselves into the culture.

I didn’t want to come to Korea and live by other Americans. I wanted to experience the culture and country first hand, so we have tried to rely as little on the Army post as possible.

We’ve slowly been learning the language and getting to know people in our neighborhood. We’ve made a lot of friends on the subway.

I think the biggest difference for me is living in the city.

Seoul is – overwhelming.

Our street

It is easy to get around, the people are friendly, and the streets are safe.

But Seoul is like an all-consuming black hole. I never knew how some people could grow up in New York and never leave the city – ever. Now I know how. Because being inside the city becomes your reality – it engulfs you.

My Midwestern roots are screaming to just run for the hills.

I’ve had to really make an effort to find the little spots of green, the wide open spaces here in Seoul and treasure them. It helps keep my sanity.

Yet some things remain the same

For Mother’s Day, we took a bus to Osan to visit Jay. He is taking a class down there and it was a perfect opportunity to get out of Seoul and see another part of the country.

We didn’t see a lot besides hills and more skyscrapers, but it was nice.

On that bus ride, I was just struck with the irony of how similar some things are here in Korea and in America.

Other than the signs written in Korean, the scenery could have been from a car trip through Virginia or parts of Oregon. Green mountains rolling against the setting sun.

I think we all laugh a little too hard at some of the things we find in common with what we are culturally programmed for. It’s ironic because it resonates with our past.

People are still the same. They still desire connection.

Korea has stop signs, and malls, and perfume departments that stink, and supermarkets.

It’s these things that help us make sense of the differences around us. It helps us feel a little less small and strange.

Those similarities brings us back to the reality that we are all just human – attempting to conquer this shared experience of life.


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4 Responses to Culture Shock: Differences vs. Familiarity

  1. Jennifer says:

    Oh, Aadel! I am sitting here in Ohio in our good sized home with a half an acre of green surrounding. . .wish I could have you & the kids over for a visit tomorrow! Covering you & your family with prayer during this adventurous portion of your journey 🙂

  2. Christina says:

    Aadel~I am new to your blog and really enjoying it. We are a Christina-homeschool- army family too 🙂 We recently moved (again) and are right in the middle of all those “new home” adjustments.I feel ya for sure on this one!

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