Returning to teach in Korea hasn't been what I thought it would be.
For wanderers who can relate, there's something unsettling about settling in a home away from home. We're used to running. We're used to seeing new places. Back here, things are pretty much "same same, but different". Different job (but still same same), different friends, different apartment, some different foods to try. But it hasn't been different enough to keep me feeling challenged, inspired, purposeful. All those things that I need to experience every day in order to validate all of the wandering I do.
Korea is in a constant state of change. I was just talking to some new Korean friends this morning (the first day of Chuseok) over some patio brunch barbecue (Hanu, special Korean cow meat) about them being in their 30's and choosing to move their careers forward over starting a family. Some are cooks. Some are guesthouse owners. Entrepreneurs. Korea is filled with small businesses. For every new Starbucks that opens in Seoul, there's a small business to try and compete with their lattes opening across the street.
I'm talking about South Korea here. (You'd be surprised how many people still ask that question). I have no idea what's going on in the north and to be honest, many South Koreans don't either.
While many North America and European 30-somethings and 20-somethings are seeking new opportunities, so are Koreans. And Chinese. And Japanese. There's a lot of single people out there. But unlike the more westernized counterparts, the East Asians I've met on my travels this past year and a half are struggling to break free from their rigid family structure. While I come from a more Canadian-style relaxed, yet important family life, the Korean-style is much more demanding and structured. And I am yet to meet many traditional and rigid young people. They long for something different. They long for the world. Korea is historically one of the most homogenous and closed-off countries in the world. I am from a country that is the exact opposite. However, the peoples' problems are the same.
A lot of the problems and issues in this country are related back to the "older generation." I have no idea what the world here in Korea will be when the old are no longer and the trendy guesthouse owners and baristas become the older generation in this ultra-modern, technological but strong and stoic nation.
Myself along with a lot of English teachers out here can deeply relate to the bilingual and forward thinking Koreans we meet on our journey through this country. Our current dilemmas are same same, but different. We all don't know what the future holds, and we live every day trying to fight and build a better one.
I came back to Busan, South Korea to make new friends, teach more English, have a desk of my own to work at every day, play some frisbee and hopefully figure out my next step.
I don't think any of us really figure everything out, do we? We just keep moving. So here's to big moves, even if they have you end up in the exact same spot.
I love me a good latte in the middle of the city while I sit down to write. I also love that I live in a place where there's absolutely no judgement when taking a selfie in a cafe filled with people.
Life in Korea vs. Canada: Same same, just a little different.