From the BK to the SK
 
So, after ten months out of the country, living in the ROK,  what was it like going home to the USA for a week?
Honestly, I thought the reverse culture shock would be much more drastic than it was, but maybe that has something to do with my mental preparation for it.
When I came home from China, it was grossly strange to hear everyone speaking English, to walk Into a deli and recognize the snacks, to return to a culture that wasn't homogenous.
I think that experience two summers ago helped to make this transition a bit smoother for me. To be honest, once I was home, it did feel a bit like I had never left. There were some interesting new trends, like sewing feathers into your hair, and a lack of some Korean trademarks ive become used to, like wearing glasses that are ten times bigger than your face, but for the most part it was OK.
The strangest thing, in all honesty, was listening to kids speak. My brothers and I went to the beach one day and stopped in our cousins' house to say hello to the family.
I asked Mia, who is in 2nd grade, about school, and her response really shook me. She started speaking so naturally and quickly, without any hesitation, no sense of confusion crawling across her face in an attempt to decipher and understand my words. She spoke about being student of the month, and she spoke with such ease that I listened in amazement.
A few minutes later, her older sister, Bridget, came into the room and shimmied herself right into our conversation. She listened as her mother told us a story about a vacation from a few years ago and chimed in with an,"I remember that."
As stupid as it sounds, I remember my exact thought being, "jesus she totally understands us."
Don't get me wrong- some of my students speak incredible English and can understand and make jokes with me or talk to me about anything they want; however, there is always hint of an accent, an occasional trip on a word, a pause when they think about how to best express themselves. So, to see a 9-year-old girl speak without any inclination of second guessing herself really left me a bit dumbfounded.
And, it is always weird to have to remind yourself that the people around you speak and understand English when you're in a public place, like on a train or a bathroom at a bar. It is definitely a common mistake to make I would think.
But all in all, the week flew by.
My dad says the image of me coming off the airplane in my neon hoodie, with my enormous glasses and my neon chucks, throwing my bags on the floor and my hands up in the air when I felt fed up and wanted to set them on fire because I was sick of dragging them was one of the prime moments of this week. Ha. My patience is severely limited - part of being a New Yorker I think.
I was able to surprise my 6 best friends that very night for one of their birthdays. They had a party in the Hamptons and had no idea I was crashing it. It was like that Extreme Home Makeover show. I hid behind a door and jumped out, and it took about five seconds for anyone to make any kind of move. Haha. It was such a beautiful reunion and an even better night.
Sometimes it can be hard to look at what you're missing out on, especially when you go home go one of the best cities on earth. I know at some point I want to return to NY, live either in the city or downtown BK and enjoy being young while planning my next move.
But then you remind yourself that home is always and will always be there, and the experiences I'm having now are ones I feel grateful for every night as I lay my head on my pillow and fall asleep.
So  was I sad to come back? Not really at all, actually. The thing I dreaded most was the 13 hour plane ride, but luckily I sat down in my seat and fell into a coma for the entire flight.
I missed my students, I missed my friends in Korea and my life there, and I missed having a foreign adventure every day. I think, too, that knowing that in less than two months I will be In Japan with my brother and setting off for a backpacking trip around Asia just a few days later made me more than excited to come back.
We really are in the home stretch now, and the next 8 months of my life are honestly going to be the greatest 8 months of my life.
So, Brooklyn, it will be quite a while before I see you again, and when I come go e next year you'll greet me with slap in the face of that cold NY winter wind, waking me up from my dream world and propelling me back into real life, or should I say, professional life. It doesn't get any realer than experiencing all the world has to offer.
I can already hear my dad asking me, "so, Alexandra, what now?", with which I will reply, "Not Now. You're going to give me heart palpitations."
until then, time for some new passport pages and preparing to say good bye to one chapter of my life while getting ready to start a new one.
 


Comments

dad
06/29/2011 04:37

You are the best, I can't begin to tell you how I felt when you left and walked thru security and off again on yet another adventure. It was a great week, one I will always remember. I loved having you around but I always know in my heart this is what you were meant to do. Have a great time. Love Ya.

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