Greetings Expats, Koreans, Korean-Americans, Korea-lovers, Linguistics Lovers, Mixed-Marriage couples and hapa 1.5ers from across the globe!
For those who’ve never read my Mother-In-Law Diaries, in former expat magazine The Beat, and also in Pusan’s www.koreabridges.com, welcome to the Diaries: The Rebirth!
However I am not in South Korea anymore. Hopefully soon. But not yet.
Right now I’m back in America.
And for those of you considering returning to America with your new Korean wife and kids, all I can advise is DON’T DO IT!
There is nothing here! No culture! No education! No Employment! No bilingual bliss! And no mother-in-law!
No staggering throngs of smiling Koreans on their way to work and pleasure, no bull-headed ajummas with babies on their backs, no neon signs all night long, no dancing girls on the corners, no fried dumpling snacks, fried ho-dduck full of brown sugar, no hills full of houses looking out upon all that industry, or walks through neighborhoods with random old men to drink a cup of coffee with.
No Russians or Burmese sailors. No Ukrainian Lotte Dancers, no Uzbek hostess girls and nary a Korean girl within miles.
Still worse, there is no work, especially if you’re a teacher.
Because if you think maybe America has even a little respect for education then you’re wrong. Teachers in America are losers. They’re laughed at by student and parent alike. They’re even laughed at by other teachers. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re in the inner-city or the suburbs, elementary or college, don’t expect respect. Don’t expect to be paid much either, and don’t expect teaching in Korea to mean anything, at all, to anyone, back in America.
What I would not do to hear my students, “Hi teacher! How are you?!” My parents bowing and offering pared pears and green tea, plus at the end of four weeks that thick white envelope full of cash… Then hit the hot spas… Ah me.
Don’t underestimate the importance of cash, after being spoiled with it in Korea. Here in the states I don’t have enough cash in my pocket to buy a beer. If I had enough I wouldn’t bother because everyone else is so broke. Downtown Battle Creek is dead. Half the mall is closed. Half the buildings in town are for sale. And the population is decreasing.
In Korea I made 5,000 dollars a month and saved about 3500 of it each month. Here in Michigan my bachelor’s in English Literature and basic teaching certificate got me offers in Detroit (one of which I took, but I will blog that later), so I had to go back for my master’s.
To pay for my masters I use a new grant available in Michigan. It’s actually not so much a grant, as it is unemployment. It’s part of Michigan’s No Worker Left Behind. But they call it a grant, and I’ll take the money either way.
To receive the unemployment/grant payments on time I have to tell Michigan’s unemployment agency, that I refuse to return to school or work no matter what. And if I do get a job, I should lie, in order to continue receiving the grants.
It took me a while to believe that this could be true, that I should pretend to be a loser in order to receive grant money, and so I told the unemployment recording (MARVIN) the truth, that I’d actually like to work, and that I intend to go to school as soon as possible.
This was a bad idea, because it lost me two-months of cash. So from now on when our country’s social workers tell me to lie to the our country’s government, I guess I’ll take their word for it.