Why It’s Time To Say Goodbye

I try to not write negative posts, but I also want to keep my blog as honest as possible so here it goes…

It may come across that life is wonderful here in Korea and a lot of the time it is. But being an expat can be really hard sometimes and for myself and Jason it has been a bit harder recently.

A few Saturdays ago, myself and some friends went to a waterfall area in our city. It’s a beautiful area full of trees and has a lovely creek flowing through it. We brought a barbecue and our dogs and had a great time. We have come and barbecued here a few times, we never thought we were doing anything wrong and we always see Koreans do the same.ย IMG_8896

After having a great day, we were packing up to leave and a man and his wife came along. They started to take photos of us and the man was shouting at us, like we were doing something wrong. My friend, Lisa, got frustrated that they were taking our photos and asked them to delete the photos. The man actually raised his fist to her. He then made a phone call and left. Luckily we were leaving anyway.

We later found out that you aren’t supposed to barbecue in that area. There was such aggression in this man, We weren’t barbecuing when he came along but he felt the need to insert himself in to a situation and pull his weight.

But this incident unfortunately isn’t a secluded one. Just last week myself and Jason were crossing the road when Jason’s watch hit off of a mans hand and the mans phone dropped to the ground, Jason apologized to him. But the man came after us, raising his fists wanting to fight Jason. Luckily I jumped in front of Jason which made him stop.

This is the reason that I’m so excited to leave Korea. I’ve had a wonderful time here, but I feel like the longer I stay here the more unpleasant things that I witness and am powerless to change.

When I am by myself and walking our dog Willy, I have had so many incidents of older women screaming and shouting at me, just because. It is such a horrible situation to be in, especially when you are doing nothing wrong. (I am a responsible dog owner, so Willy is always on leash and I always carry poop bags)
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Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all Koreans are bad. Of course not! I have met so many amazing Koreans but I do hate the sense of entitlement that older Koreans have.

I respect my elders, that’s something that has been taught to me since I was young. But here in Korea, the elders believe that they can do whatever they want just because they are older. They constantly push and shove, shout at younger people and whatever they say goes.

Just this morning, my bus pulled in to the stop where myself and two of my students get off for school. An old man came and pushed one of my students off of the bus and shoved the other one out of the way, just so that he could get off the bus before other people. All three of us wereย in shock at how rude he had been, especially since they are only 11 years old.

This is also true in the workplace. The boss is king. If you are in a lower position you cannot disagree with your higher ups, even if you have a good idea or they are wrong. My principal last year wanted to punish me because I asked to take a week off for my “marriage leave”(it was in my contract and I chose a week that I wouldn’t be teaching textbook classes). He was so angry that I even asked that not only did he not grant it, he also tried to take away the vacation time that I had planned on going on my honeymoonโ€ฆknowing full well that’s what I was doing.

It hurt me so much because I have never missed a class, been late or taken a sick day. I have a great relationship with all of my co-workers and my students. That was the point that I knew it was time for me to leave. Luckily, I got to take my vacation because contractually, I had to. But everyone was too scared to tell my principal, so they were going to pretend that I was sick. It was so frustrating to see all of this unfold.
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I know that living in America will be difficult. We’ll have more bills, higher prices and probably lower wages but we’ll have voices. We’ll be able to stand up for ourselves without fear of retribution, we’ll be able to explain our point of views in a calm manner and we’ll be able to stand up for ourselves when bully’s try to bring us down.

Korea, I love you, but it’s definitely time to say goodbye (In September).

I was very nervous about publishing this as I really don’t want to come across unappreciative of everything that Korea has given me or unappreciative of the many wonderful Koreans that I know and love, it can just be hard living in a completely different culture sometimes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

26 thoughts on “Why It’s Time To Say Goodbye

  1. This is a very well written post and you don’t have to feel bad for speaking the truth about your experiences. It’s unrealistic to think that it’s all positive and you don’t do your readers any favors if you don’t tell the whole story. I know how you’re feeling. When it’s time to go, it’s really time to go. It only took me five months to have that feeling about India and two and a half years to have to it about Russia, so for as long as you were in Korea, it’s clear that you believe it’s a wonderful place. I’m glad you got your honeymoon!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you!
      Yeah it’s very true, when you know you know. Unfortunately I think myself and Jason have been feeling this for a while but it’s so hard to walk away from a good job with great pay and vacation time also we weren’t married and had a dog which made it nearly impossible to go to many places. But this extra time that we’ve spent here has allowed us to become debt free and build some savings.
      I’ve always accepted the Korean way when it came to the workplace but there was no way that I wasn’t going to fight about my honeymoon. I just felt so let down that I put so much in to my job and that was the thanks that I got. Anyway, he changed schools in March and my new principal is really nice ๐Ÿ™‚
      But I’m really excited to start our next chapter in America. We are gathering all of our documents for my visa, so it’s all becoming real ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I agree with Jennifer, this is a well written, and well thought out post. Bad things happen everywhere, and it is unrealistic to expect anywhere to be perfect. I have struggled with many things in Bali, and have often thought about packing up and leaving, but the alternative in England is not very inviting right now. I have seen others that have really had enough, and I encourage them to leave before they end up having no good memories left! You have to follow your heart, when you feel its time to go, it probably is.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I completely agree. I think it’s normal to struggle with life in a different country, especially an Asian country. It’s always good to know that it happens to everyone.
      I’m the same as you, I never really wanted to return to Ireland, especially after the recession!
      My husband struggles more than I do because he drives here (there are some crazy drivers here!) and he teaches middle school girls which can be soul destroying. But I’m glad that we have a final date because it means that we can just enjoy our time here and really appreciate everything that we have gained from working in Korea.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I totally love living in Korea. There are many, many wonderful aspects and unexpected bonuses to it. However, there are also a number of major cultural differences that range from funny to downright insulting. It’s the way it is adjusting to any different place. It’s fantastic that, overall, you’ve had a great time. It’s to be expected that there are quirks that eventually get to you.
    The kudos go to you just for putting yourself out there and doing something so wonderful.
    Enjoy the next step!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so happy that you are loving it! And I really do enjoy it too. I think that because I finally have an end date,it’s harder to put up with some things. But just yesterday after posting this entry I had the most amazing day with all of my students and had a feeling of sadness about leaving that behind. Living abroad is a wonderfully complex thing that everyone should do at least once!

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  4. That’s so bad. I’m sorry those things happened to you. It’s pretty terrible at how older Koreans think they can do whatever they want simply because they’re older. I’ve been here for six years now, and I’ve had more positive experiences than negative ones. But those negative ones aren’t easy to forget sometimes. I used to live in a very traditional city a few years ago. It’s a beautiful place with friendly people overall, but a few times I’ve been met with older Koreans berating myself and a few female Korean friends for talking and drinking together. I hope you don’t let your negative experiences taint you’re overall memories though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well luckily for me, they have all been minor incidences that most people in Korea have to go through. In my first few years I could just laugh them off but the longer I stay here the harder it is to find the funny side to it.
      Of course I’ll never let the negative outweigh the positive. I’ve had the time of my life in Korea and have had little pieces of joy every day while living here.
      Koreans in general are really great people too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I liked your post. What I couldnโ€™t discern was whether or not you know what the locals are yelling at you. Itโ€™s intriguing to imagine why they respond this way to younger people . . . or foreigners . . . or women, or whatever. On the one hand, the accumulation of grievances can become unbearable, so it might be wise to remove yourself. On the other hand, if you stay longer, shift your perspective a little bit, and allow yourself to suffer a little more verbal abuse, you may be able to gain some much needed insight into what appears to be a mystery to the rest of us. Iโ€™ve worked with engineers from Korea in the past, and currently work with engineers from China and India and sometimes you learn little pieces about a culture in conversation. So, as an example, when I asked one Chinese guy why he wanted to move to the US, his first reply was . . . safe food. That took me by surprise!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we have to give the older generation some leeway because they have lived through a war but the things that they shout and complain about are so petty, it’s confusing. The older generation is pretty much forgotten about here in Korea too. Before, children would take care of the older generation, nowadays people are backing away from that type of lifestyle because raising their own children is so expensive and many people have moved away from their parents to the bigger cities. So, here in Korea, the government and laws still believe that family takes care of the elderly (which is true in some situations, but not all). This means that the elderly get no pensions or help from the government at all. So this means that the elderly have to work until they physically can’t anymore. They usually have jobs such as picking up trash, cutting the grass in parks, trying to find recyclable materials to sell, cleaning public buildings etc.. I believe that them asserting their weight with everyone around them is their way of feeling important or feeling like they matter.
      I completely understand this, but I just wish that it wasn’t the case. Also Korea deems age as extremely important so for example, you can only be friends with a person that is the same age as you. There is a different language used based on who you are talking to (a formal language for a person older than you and an informal one for younger people). So technically, when you are older in Korea you are almost untouchable. Respecting your elders is a common belief across the world, one that I agree with, but Korea takes it to the extremes.

      I do wonder what it will be like when this younger generation gets older. But for now, I realize that nothing that I can do will change the way older people are here. Before, I could find the funny side to it but now it’s harder to do which tells me that it’s definitely time to move on. Plus, it’s not just that that makes me want to leave. I’m now married and I’m so excited to move to Colorado and start the next stage of my life ๐Ÿ™‚

      But that Chinese mans answer that you work with, is very surprising and sad! Safe food is something that so many of us take for granted!

      Thank you so much for your insightful comment, it definitely got me thinking and it helped to write down some of the reasons that older generation are the way they are.

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  6. I think it is great and totally OK you shared this! I’m sorry you have had these experiences but I think it is so awesome what you have been doing! I am also excited for you that you get to leave soon- enjoy your last months! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. These experience have been pretty small incidents that if they happened just once you wouldn’t even think about it but when they keep happening it can get irritating. But, most importantly, they haven’t changed my opinion of Korea or all of the wonderful memories that I’ve had here!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I appreciate the balanced stance you’ve taken in writing this. There’s nothing wrong with talking about the things that frustrate you, wherever you may be. I understand entirely! I’m so frustrated with all the bullshit that goes on in a hagwon, and having to deal with a Korean head teacher who is, if such a phrase is possible, ‘aggressively useless’- it’s a tough situation to be in. Kudos for having the strength and fortitude to accept when it’s time to move on.
    Actually, this is a timely post, because unexpectedly I will be leaving at the end of the month- I found out with three weeks’ notice. I haven’t done a blog post yet because once the post is up, everybody that I know will know, y’know? ๐Ÿ˜‰ But it’s really time to go public, and this pushes me to write a post soon. I have exciting plans, fear not, and I’m sure that you do too! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that! Was it something to do with your hagwon? I’m definitely glad to be working in a public school and not have to deal with shady hagwons!
      Yeah, I understand what you mean about telling everyone. It’s tough to tell the world that life isn’t perfect. I had to get my husband to read this post beforehand to make sure it was okay to post. haha
      I can’t wait to see what you have planned next! We are definitely very excited about the next stage of our life starting in September. This living abroad life is pretty exciting/crazy/scary isn’t it?!

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  8. I enjoyed your post very much. I think you are brave to share the good with the bad, and you come across as thoughtful and fair. The bottom line is you have to do what is right for you, and if being their on balance doesn’t feel right, you are correct to trust your instincts. There are adventures around every turn, no matter where you are. Keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for those kind words. I agree with you completely.
      I just had an incredible weekend camping and getting away from it all and I’ve definitely come back with a fresh attitude!
      I’m excited to be starting the next adventure in September but I’m also excited to enjoy my last summer here in Korea to the fullest that I can!

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  9. Sorry that you have a bad taste in your mouth for the ending of your time there. I’d like to say though it’s very doable to live here in the States simply. I work three days a week at TJs, make less than 15 hour and still get to live in my own home, eat well, have few bills. Just be creative and you’ll enjoy yourself too! Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! It’s always good to hear that we can make it happen! Sometimes we worry about what life in America will be like but I’m excited for it!
      Luckily expat life changes everyday and with just under 3 months left here in Korea, my mind changes everyday too. I’ve been feeling better about Korea lately ๐Ÿ™‚

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  10. I used to live in Gimhae, but moved my family to Canada. A big adjustment was to doing a lot of home cooking, as restaurant prices are so high you feel like you’re being robbed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah…that’s something we’ll have to get used to! Although I’m excited about the variety that we’ll be able to get in the supermarkets! I just hope I can find an Asian or Korean mart!

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