That’s what the sign at the
airport should have read.
In South Korea, if you stand on a
corner long enough, you will see an old woman with an
enormous bucket of water on top of her head walk past
a 19 year old boy sitting atop one of those “Crotch
Rocket” style motorcycles as he answers a call on
his cellular phone. That same frail, old woman will firmly
shove your naïve ass out into the street as you gawk
at the “Bo and Luke” type driving performed
by a couple of taxis as they zip past you. She will not
apologize; in fact, she won’t even notice she did
it. Stop and ask her for directions and she will take
the bucket off the top of her head, take your hand and
graciously lead you to your desired destination. That’s
Korea in a nutshell.
Why did we leave the United
States? My husband and I had jobs we loved, great friends
and both of our families (and in-laws) were great, too.
We had great cars (an adventurous Jeep and the “sensible”
Toyota), a great condo, a great cat, and a great 401 K.
We had a 401K.
Why not leave the U.S.?
After talking with about half
of the people I went to high school with, we decided that
working as English teachers in South Korea might make
for an interesting adventure or at the very least, a chance
to experience a new culture. We were given the excellent
advice not to judge or make comparisons to what it’s
like back home, we were also told to memorize this mantra,
“Not good, not bad, just different”.
We put Scruff, our old Tom into
the sensible car next to our two Box turtles (not very
sensible) and drove them to my friend Kristin’s’
house where they were to vacation for the following twelve
months. Along with Kristin live her husband, nine-month
old toddler, Logan, a 130-pound Rottweiler, two cats and
a father who runs his business nearby but makes “Kramer”
style appearances at her patio door almost daily. The
cat didn’t notice that he’d changed houses.
Kristin says the turtles are happier. I’m not sure
how she knows this.
We’ve seen and heard some
interesting things since we arrived. Some things are amazing
to me, some are impossible to understand, while some things
make me angry or sad. I try not to judge and I try to
remember that things here in South Korea are not good
or bad, just different.