As mentioned in my last post, I had the chance to go home to Columbus, Ohio for about two weeks. Part of this trip included a quick 3-day stint to Canada to fulfill my duties as the Maid of Honor in my best friend’s wedding.
Let me be real with you for a second. I honestly wasn’t looking forward to going home. Had it not been for the wedding, I would’ve spent my summer vacation somewhere new. I had forgotten how much I love Ohio and all of its heart and simplicity. Before my brief return, I had not actively missed home. Sure, I missed my mom, a few friends, and the food, but not once did I feel a longing to return.
That being said, once I stepped foot in Columbus, I felt an overwhelming sense of warmth and familiarity. Columbus is far from perfect, but here are some reflections on what I noticed upon my return:
I forgot that most Ohioans smile at strangers!! I know that it’s only skin deep but it felt so refreshing to feel seen. To feel seen not as an outsider but just as a human. To know that if you’re being stared at, it’s probably because you’re beautiful or have a stain on your shirt and not because you’re a foreign commodity. *Note: I’m aware that not all Americans or people living in America feel this way. I don’t always feel this way, either. Just stating the difference between the US and a much less diverse country.*
Yo. Korea broke me. With such a huge population living in close quarters, personal space simply does not exist in Seoul. Where I come from, you always apologize when bumping into somebody even if it’s not your fault. Everyone has their own nice, little bubble. That bubble is popped the second you step off the plane in Incheon.
I’d become so accustomed to constantly battling my way through the snail-paced masses of Seoul that bumping into folks became my norm. I failed to transition to Midwest Mode upon my return home, however. I continued pushing past people and not apologizing for it until I realized all of the dirty looks like I was getting. Whoops. So I forced myself back into the habit and will be forever jaded walking down Seoul’s streets.
I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty good at small talk. I can hold a conversation with most people if I so desire. Back home, I would randomly talk to people waiting at the bus stop, serving me my lunch, janitors in the hallways, etc. That’s not so much of a thing here in Seoul. When I do end up talking to strangers here (i.e. taxi drivers), it’s always the same thing: “Where are you from?” “How long have you lived in Korea?” “One year??! How is your Korean so good?!!?!??11!?” It can get a little tiring answering the same questions over and over again, so it was a nice refresher to be able to connect on a different level with people back home.
My eating habits and abilities have completely changed. I am a salt aficionado with a big appetite for greasy, nutrition-less goods. I love the food in Ohio and even wrote out an entire list of places I wanted to eat at. Turns out my stomach shrunk and things that I used to looove I found a bit too salty. I’ve literally never found anything too salty in my entire life lol. I still highly enjoyed all my meals while I was home, I just found it interesting to notice such a marked difference in my taste buds.
Well this one is a given, but it was obviously a huge adjustment to hear and use English all the time. It’s much harder to tune out a language that you speak fluently than one you don’t. On top of that, my friends kept pointing out how my spoken English sounds more awkward and a bit weird, haha. I also forgot how to order food at a restaurant in English along with many phrases that I just havent had to use in a year! Lol way to go English teacher 😛
Kay, I’ll stop there for now. Also, please forgive me for taking practically 0 pictures when I was in the US…I was too busy stuffing my face.
Is there anything you’ve noticed about home upon returning from abroad? Let me know!