Sunday, March 31, 2013

Avoiding An EPIC Groundhog Day

And buy this book....
Need Information in English while in Korea?
From Seoul Call 1330
From Outside Seoul Call Area Code +1330

There is a big change/life crisis that happens two or three years into living abroad, and right now both myself and many of my friends are swimming through it.  We don't know where we fit in anymore.  We've moved past the shiny newness and we are living our lives just like we always wanted.  We want to make this transition with grace, but it isn't always that easy.

It's hard not to get irritated and annoyed by the new folks who beg for advice and then tell you your wrong.  Or worse, beg for the advice then do the exact opposite and come back to complain about the outcome you told them was inevitable.   If you aren't careful, your life becomes an epic (or GEPIC) groundhog day of rotating emotional crisis as expats cycle through each year.

This weekend my friend and I talked about our desire to help new people because we value those that helped us, but we admitted to each other we both struggle with feelings of frustration when we do so.  Mostly because the time and effort that is put into helping is often dismissed and taken for granted, as if those that lived here have unlimited resources and time to help newbies get settled - endlessly.

Maybe the hardest part is that when we say, "Hey, why don't you learn a bit of the language?" and expats answer, "Why?  I don't really need to?"  Um, actually you do need to.  Right now the local people and longterm expats are taking time away from things they love such as their interests, jobs, friends and families in order to take care of you.  They are kind and they are patient, but they would really rather be doing something else.

For example, my friend works with 70 other foreign teachers - most of whom are changing over on a regular basis.  Just do the math on how much time it would take in a week to answer all those questions.  It's kind of exhausting to consider.  Let's say half of those teachers need 10 minutes of help with their personal life each week.  That's 5 hours a week of work.

Ok and this is just straight up helpfulness.  Then factor in the emotional crisis that folks hit 6-8 months into their first move abroad and the hours they want to spend talking about "how hard it is here" and there goes the rest of our free time in a heartbeat.

It's not that we hate new people, it's that we actually don't have enough time in our days to be that helpful.    The truth of the matter is that our lives have moved on.  We've made friends, settled into jobs, learned the language and gained hobbies.  It isn't "hard here" for us.  It's just life and we've accepted what we have given up and we love what we've gained.

The fact of the matter is that we must filter out all the "help me's" so that we can accomplish our lives.  We can't live within and endless groundhog day of culture shock crises, "can somebody give me the bus schedule again" requests and friends who come and go like the wind.  Plus, the fact of the matter is that it's hard enough to move and accept a new culture and a new life without always being drug back to the beginning.

In the end, instead of staying and letting myself due to newbies inconsideration, I've moved on.  Removing myself from any lists or organizations aimed at helping folks get settled.  It's the right choice for me to step of the wheel and let it roll on by.

What I will do is keep sharing things I love and find useful via this blog and  This is what I can do and this is what I love to do.  However, answering endless questions about bus schedules, I'll leave that up to the help hotline: (information via
Need information regarding Seoul? Call 1330!

Need information for outside Seoul? Call area code + 1330.

When you need English assistance or travel information, just dial 1330, and a bilingual operator will offer you detailed information on tourist sites, transportation, restaurants, etc. The service is available 24/7. It the information you need is for an area outside Seoul, just enter the area code of that region and then press 1330. Some of the regional offices close after business hours, but no worries, your call will automatically transfer to the 27/7 line in Seoul.

Note: Calls made to 1330 are charge at the local call rate even if they are from a cell phone (which charge long distance call rates).
You don’t have to be in Korea to contact the Travel Help Line. If you’re abroad, just press 82+ area code + 1330.

Available languages: Chinese, English, Japanese and Korean.
Also, you don’t have to be a tourist to use the Help Line. Foreign residents call 1330 for all kinds of information – some related to travel, some related to public transportation, a lot related to question re daily living or for interpretation when dealing with taxi drivers, shop clerks, etc.
Korean Area Codes (note: when calling from abroad, drop the (0)
Long Distance From Korea:
To make a long distance call from Korea, dial 001 then the rest of the number. 

No comments: