It’s official, my family and I are back in the United States. We left Korea with so much joy and peace on March 2nd. Overall, the flight into the US was very smooth. My little three-month-old was well behaved; he didn’t cause much of a fuss at all. (Very proud mama!) We spent a weekend in Dallas, TX before heading back to the east coast. It wasn’t a planned detour, but we are so thankful for it. (Thank you mother nature.)
The weekend in Dallas was sunny with clear skies. Of course, we made an adventure out of it. We explored the city on Saturday; enjoyed American sub sandwiches and Mediterranean salad bowls. We took in the different faces, shapes, and shades of other people. Absorbed the noise all around us, while listening to the various English speaking conversations. I felt like I was trapped between two worlds. Physically I knew I was in America, but mentally I thought I was still in Korea. For instance, when I was asked a question, I found myself overthinking how I should respond. (Sometimes I would use Korean and catch myself mid-sentence, before making a fool of myself. Other times, it just took me too long to recall simple words.) It was bizarre.
When we finally arrived on the east coast seeing my family again was like a breath of fresh air, while at the same time overwhelming. What I did not realize until that moment was how my little unit, consisting of my husband and child, taught me how to appreciate and be love to my extended family members. Of course, my mom thought I was way too skinny. My dad shed tears of joy while holding his grandson for the first time. My brother couldn’t believe I was finally home. And my sister, she was just consumed with her new nephew.
Meanwhile, my little boy was very attentive to all these different faces. He was well aware it was no longer mama and papa, but grandpa, grandma, aunty, uncle, cousin-so and so. My little one scanned the room for his parents everytime a new face would come and take him. He would scream with his hands balled up into a fist until he heard our voices. At times he wouldn’t calm down until we took him away. All three Thompsons were undergoing an internal, yet public transition. We learned how to live with just the three of us. We are now learning how to allow our extended family in our world. As long as we stay grounded in God, all things will work out for our good.
Regarding reverse culture shock, there are customs I became acclimated to while living abroad. Such as smaller food portions, more vegetables than anything else on my plate, limited meat options, taking my shoes off before entering a home, asking before using anything, talking slowly, and being calculated with my word choices. I was used to the quietness. Don’t get me wrong, Korea is loud, but in America, everything is louder. It did not take long to hear the music from the car behind me or the blasting sound of the extremely, massive, TV.
My first visit to Walmart was quite the experience. I clung to my daddy’s arm in amazement; with wide eyes, I walked through aisles fascinated with all the choices. My dad was like, “What’s wrong with you? Would you get yourself together?” (LOL) I realized I’ve become more polite and absurdly friendly since arriving back on US soil. It doesn’t take me long to spark a conversation with complete strangers. Small talk was never my thing- but after having to break out of my shell, it has become innate in me to speak up and out for two years.
Overall, It’s good to be home. Surrounded by love and to be love to the community around us. I miss my friends in Korea, but the beauty of the world we live in today and the world wide web; we may be seven thousand miles away but still very much connected and a part of each other lives.
Monday, March 19th, 2018