Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Perspectives Series-Unprepared

I am beyond excited to introduce this new series to you all! Over the next few months I have some amazing ladies that have so generously agreed to share with you their expat experience and how it inevitably changed their perspectives on life. Changed views and perspectives are something all of us expats face and prepare ourselves for, but none of us ever know the extent of how much our views will change or what we will think differently about until we leave. Hopefully it makes you think a little bit about what your definition of 'normalcy' is, even if you've never left your home country. I hope you all enjoy the series as much as I have enjoyed preparing it!


Homecomings are supposed to be romantically wonderful after a long wait, yes? After a year abroad, where I lived in a rural fishing village as the only English speaker, returning to America and my hometown should have been a welcome relief. Right? Especially when my hometown is Seattle: one of the most beautiful places on earth during this time of year. It’d been a year since I hugged my dad. A year since I’d sat across from my best friend, and watched her dimples deepen and eyes crinkle as she laughed at my joke in person. A year since I’d been to my mom’s house, raided her fridge, borrowed her car, spritzed her perfume like it was mine, and obliged her as she wrapped me in the warmest hug: the type only mothers can give. Yes, it’s true, these homecomings and reunions are wonderful. Almost cinematic in their perfection, because the first week or so of being back home after living abroad, nobody close to me is allowed to get annoyed or mad at me. Once the newness of my presence wears off, though, I’m sure it’ll be back to the regular tiff over who was supposed to call whom back and whose turn it is to buy toilet paper.

It’s the things that you don’t see in the movies that I wasn’t prepared for. Returning to America, I was excited to go into a grocery store and see peanut butter, exotic produce and quinoa on the shelves. What I wasn’t prepared for was how the prices had jumped drastically on items. Or had things always been this expensive? Was I the one that needs to readjust my mindset of what is “cheap” or “expensive”? Maybe Korea ruined me in that way.

Korea also ruined me in that nothing I eat is spicy enough. But I digress.

Moving back into my dad’s house was lovely: knowing that I had a place to lay my head, hang my clothes, and shower immediately upon my return from my Asian travels was a relief. But I can’t stay here forever: I’ve just spent a year living in my own apartment; though shabby, it was my own space. It’s hard to come back to someone else’s house, with rules, and the inability to walk around in the nude. (Not  that it’s a regular thing that I do, but the fact that I cannot do it now upsets me slightly.) Alas, looking at rental listings on Craigslist around the Seattle area, I become instantly depressed. Unless I want to live in a dark, moldy, dump in the middle of the ghetto and far from any sort of transportation, I’m going to have to fork out close to a grand every month for rent! Woe is me; I sure miss the days of living rent-free as an English teacher in SoKo. That gig seriously ruined my expectations on jobs, living situations, free health insurance, and what a meal should cost for the rest of my life.

I start most of my sentences these days with, “Well, in Korea…”

Of course coming home there are the petty annoyances of being jet lagged, not taking your shoes off when you enter a restaurant, refraining from gawking at all of the white people (I just say it to myself in my head as I walk around the city: “Wow look at all these white people…”) and hearing so much English around me that is also odd to adjust to. But more than anything, I feel a little lost coming home.

Yes, I complain about how life in Seattle seems so much more expensive than the last time I was living here, but it’s more than that.

I feel a little bit like my time here will be nice for a short while, but I’ve seen another part of the world, lived there, and know that life is just as good on the other side of the globe. What am I trying to say?

Coming home is great (albeit expensive.)

But you know what’s even better?

Continuing on another adventure. I already can’t wait for my next one.

I stumbled upon Shireen's blog one day as I was searching the web and I'm so glad I did! I was instantly drawn in by her beautiful pictures and her tell-it-like-it-is writing style. Since then, we've kept in touch as she's left Korea, traveled Taiwan and headed back to the Seattle area to pursue an education in wine. Unfortunately her blog was recently spammed but she assures me that she'll be back online in no time! Check her out at

If you have lived abroad and would like to be featured, shoot me an email at lostintravels{at}gmail{dot}com. I would love to hear from you!