Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm in a Funk

I'm not feeling so hot right now. I'm feeling very worn down, tired, sick, and miserable. The novelty of living in Korea has worn off and everything is pretty normal now. We go to the grocery store, we make dinner, we eat popcorn, we do laundry, we teach and teach and teach all day long and repeat, repeat, repeat.

I've settled into a routine but it's feeling more like a rut. Maybe it's the onset of winter or maybe it's the fact that we haven't gone anywhere the past two weekends. Whatever it is, I don't like it and I can't have it. We still have seven months on our contract and there's no way we're leaving before it ends.

When we first arrived, everything was new, exciting, and sometimes even mind boggling. My head was spinning in every direction so I could see everything and contemplate why the locals do what they do. I was constantly tripping over my feet or running into things because my eyes were never on the ground. I was too busy peeking inside all the shops as we passed, people watching, or staring at all the bright flashing signs at night. Everything was so enthralling. Everything was interesting. Everything was an adventure. Even going to the grocery store was a fun outing!

Unfortunately, now that "honeymoon" phase is over. Every day life seeps in and ruins your mindset. No longer does it feel like you are exploring every day. Everything is not an adventure anymore and I've been trying think of ways to snap out of it. Here are what I've come up with so far.

  • Remembering why I came here in the first place. When I think it's too early to be getting up, I'm trying to think about how a year ago, I would be getting up over an hour earlier and then head on to a cubicle. Now, I spend my working hours in a classroom designed to look like a kitchen with hoards of kids running in and out every forty minutes. It's become routine now, but it's a helluva lot better than what I was doing before coming to Korea. 
  • Accept the differences, don't fight them. I'd gotten to the point where little things would piss me off. One day, I got so angry that I had to take my shoes off at school and put on indoor shoes. Spencer couldn't believe it. "Really?" he said to me, "It's really that big of deal?" At the time, I shouted "YES!" but really, no, it's not. It's not worth feeling badly over and it's definitely not worth fighting because there is no way I will ever win that fight with Koreans. Let it go and move on.
  • Take a day trip. Go exploring! I came here primarily to travel and experience living as an expat. Go talk to people, ride buses, and see things. Don't stay cooped up in the apartment all weekend long for any reason...well, unless it's raining the whole time and then you're okay. 
  • Share your feeling with a friend or lover. I think it's good to talk (or write!) about things. It helps just to get it out there in the universe and not festering inside of you. Thankfully, I have Spencer here to listen to me bitch talk things out. I also have friends who have been in this exact situation and can help me through the rough patches.
  • Look with new eyes. Open your mind and start looking at what's around you again. Analyze the things and people you see, just like in the beginning. Explore new places, take in all you can, and practice walking meditation. Do anything to get you interested in your surroundings.  

I've never been an expat before so I'm not sure if my methods will even work but all I can do is try. Are you or have you been an expat? Do you have any tips to give? I would love to hear your advice. 


  1. I think day trips would definitely help a lot! Sorry you're having a rough time, hopefully it will pass soon.

  2. Just the fact that you have the ability to really think about and reflect on all the things that are troubling you is awesome Maggie. Plus, you have Spencer and he is one cool sunofagun. If you want a change of scenery, we should all meet in Busan next weekend.... :)?

  3. Thanks Katie, you're so sweet. You're right, Spencer is pretty cool. Busan sounds like fun! :)