It’s amazing how fast you can feel at home in a new environment. I was in South Korea for almost a month, and in just that time I was able to adapt to the culture and embrace the changes. I was enjoying my stay so much that at one point I was wishing that I could stay longer. Despite all of this, I am amazed that I haven’t suffered any major or negative reverse culture shock since I’ve returned.
On August 5th, Cherry and I took a taxi to the airport at around 6am. I remember being wide awake and watching as we passed through Seoul. I was trying to absorb some last minute images before I had to enter the airport. The taxi driver had the radio on at low volume, and Cherry was sleeping to my left. At first, I was a little melancholy, but soon I felt at peace.
I looked over the recent texts my mother had sent me asking for my flight information. After that, I thought about my family and friends that were anxiously waiting for me to return. They were my priority.
When I arrived in New York it was Sunday afternoon. As soon as I got home I showered, changed, and then ate the food my mother had prepared. I was chatting with my brothers, my mother was taking care of me, my sister was asking random pop-culture questions, and my dad was silently shuffling around the apartment. It felt like any other Sunday.
The next morning at 8am I had my driving lesson (my road test is this upcoming week!) and then I went to work an 8 hour shift at the Hunter College Library. It was a busy day, and thanks to that I was very aware of the differences between New York and Seoul.
I was in rush to make it to my driving lesson that morning, so I ended up forgetting my earphones at home. Usually I hate walking in New York City without earphones since they serve as an armor, protecting me from the craziness that goes on throughout this city. To my surprise I didn’t realize that I had left my earphones until I was on 7 train heading towards the driving school. I was so comfortable walking to the train station that I guess it reminded me of walking to a station in Seoul. Never, during my time in South Korea, did I use my earphones while I was walking outside.
However, that comfort of walking music-less in the streets only lasted that one day. On my way home after work I was approached three times by panhandlers and abruptly surprised by a subway singer. My armor was needed.
On another note, I find it funny that I still bow a little to people when I say thank you. In South Korea my friends and I were pleasntly surprised at how nice most employees from stores, cafes, restaurants, the subway, etc. were to us, so we always used to give 45 degree angle bows. Perhaps it’s the fact that kindness between strangers can sometimes be a rarity here in New York that I always have the urge to give certain people big bows. When I start doing a bow, I quickly remind myself that I’m not in South Korea, so I end giving a little head bow.
Other than these minor instances, I think I’ve adjusted well back into my old life here in New York. Of course I miss my Korean friends, Yohan and Aeju, as well as my little crew of New York City friends that I became close with on this trip, but it’s not in a painful way. Whenever I think of them I just smile. I know that I will go back to South Korea sometime next year, alongside the new friends I have here in New York.
In addition, this study abroad program has heavily influenced my academic future. I definitely want to take more media production classes during my last two semesters. I also want to find a media internship that will allow me to work with people within the Documentary field. If I find an internship like this and end up enjoying it, then perhaps I will apply to a master’s program that specializes in camera production. My ultimate goal is to find a career that is within this field of work.