Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When you have an "I Hate Korea Day"...

For the most part, Danny and I try to be positive and enjoy life as much as we can. I would say we do a pretty good job, but like everyone we have rough days. Sometimes it is tough to live in a foreign land so we have dubbed those bad days: “I Hate Korea Days”.

I’m not a fan of blogs that spend most of their times complaining about their situation so I try to see all the weird and funny things that happen to us as enjoyable or entertaining. However, when you lose your IPod in a taxi and can’t explain your problem because you don’t speak the same language, or when you find that all buses are sold out and you have to take a taxi for an hour to get home, I think it’s ok to have an “I Hate Korea Day”.

Because we all have bad days, and sometimes they seem especially hard when you are over 6,000 miles away from home, here are some suggestions to combat “I Hate Korea Days”…

1. Go see a movie: Danny and I feel like sitting in a movie theater and watching a movie is about as close as we can get to home for the small price of 8,000 won! As the lights go down and you see the opening credits, the only difference you can see is the subtitles flashing at the bottom of the screen… and they are easy to ignore : )

2. Go eat a good meal: I couldn’t decide whether to tell you to eat a Western meal to give you a taste of home (literally…buh dum chee) or to go eat Korean food so you remind yourself one great thing about this country… I guess you will just have to decide that for yourself. Danny and I just both love food so much that it can make any bad day better.

3. Walk through a Korean traditional market: (tip courtesy of my friend Gabi) Sometimes when I have an “I Hate Korea Day” I lump all Korean people into a group and villianize them. However when you walk through a market and see the sweet faces of Korean ajumas (old ladies) and cute old men in fedoras and smell the rotting fish, you can’t help but love Korea again!

4. Go sing some No Rae Bang: Nothing will cure homesickness like a good singing fest. Who cares if you sound like a cat dying a slow painful death… sing, and trust me you will feel better.

5.  Go see some good friends:  Nobody understands your bad days like a good friend who has the same problems.  Hang out, maybe vent a little, and then move on to something more fun... like going to the beach!

Now after some tips to help the bad days, but here are a few “don’ts” when it comes to “I Hate Korea Days”…

1. Don’t surround yourself with people who complain about Korea a lot… trust me once you start down that road, it’s hard to turn around.

2. Don’t lump all of Korea into one group and blame them all. Even though you may almost get hit by one bad Korean driver, that doesn’t mean that all Koreans are horrible people… even though I would say their driving techniques are in one word... interesting ; )

3. Don’t only hang out with Westerners. It’s much easier to feel a love for Korea if you actually hang out with its’ people.

4. And last… Don’t pack your bags too early. There can be days that you could literally buy a plane ticket and head home, but trust me it will get better if you just keep trying. Count to ten, go get a bottle of wine, and sing your heart out in No Rae Bang! Oh yeah!

If you ask anyone who lives in a foreign land, I’m sure they will all say that they’ve had an “I Hate China or Morocco or Canada Day”. (Who am I kidding, who could hate Canada?) No one is immune to homesickness or bad days, and our life is definitely not perfect here in Crazy Korea, but trust me, if you just try to take a deep breath and laugh at the fact that you were just told you look “really bad” to your face or that you were yelled at in a mysterious language… you will live a whole lot longer and for sure have more good days than bad. Remember that you can make it here and hopefully you’ll have too many “I Love Korea Days”.


  1. Aah I feel better just reading this :)

  2. Don't believe this doesn't get better...I've been here almost ten years and these people will do bad things to you everyday and many times you don't even know it...they will screw you over just because you are a foreigner even if they don't get anything out of it...leave now while you still can

  3. visited Korea twice in my life, both for business reasons the first in the late 90´s and the second two months ago, I found it very different from the very first time, some small kids following me asking me for chocolate, men did not wear makeup, there were no flower boys and no much surgery still. My last trip although I saw kpop fans crazy everywhere women taking pictures with me because my head was so small and my blue eyes were a novelty, surgery everywhere, men wearing tight pants but still it was a pleasant trip until I realized how lucky I was to be able to live and work in nyc as a floor trader being a woman. Perhaps I was too young in my first trip to notice that women in Korea have a very difficult life, specially for a career or business woman.
    It was until I had a business meeting with a company board that did not see any women, when I asked women to get into the meeting they were not allowed, considering the business was about cosmetics and fashion industry some femenine opinion was needed, but nothing. Women are not allowed for certain business, period, it really broke my heart for all those intelligent and strong women I left there. But I am also very grateful to the US for being considered equal in business, life, and to be respected as a professional, that my opinion is heard and encouraged for discussion, that I can speak clear and loud and my husband and male coworkers are very respectful with women you really have no idea the treasure we have in a country where freedom of speech and ideas makes women feel so so good, I really hope not to return to Seoul again, not for their culture which I found very interesting but being a woman there made me feel so useless and without value that I do not want to have that sensation again ever.