Every missionary has a thing or two to say about reverse culture shock. There's something to it. People who have never experienced working in the mission field abroad simply cannot understand the feelings and thoughts that go through the mind of a returning missionary. Here are a few things (mostly frivolous) that struck me after coming back from Korea and re-assimilating into USA life. Some things are positive, and some are negative. That's just the way it is. (I'll be going back to Korea in a few weeks, so it'll be interesting to see if it all hits me again in some way or another...)

Upon arriving at the airport in the USA, I noted the following:
"Where are all the Koreans?"
"How are there so many blonde-haired, blue-eyed children??? I've always told the Koreans that that was a generalization."
"Wow. I can understand every conversation around me! I'm not too thrilled about that, though. :P I'm already tired of hearing this woman complain about her job to her coworkers."
"Everyone is sooooo kind and helpful.....and talkative."

After almost falling asleep waiting for my connecting plane to arrive at my gate, a lady working at the gate came up to me and apologetically asked, "Are you going to Dalton?" But I heard, "Are you going to Daejeon?" Daejeon is a city in Korea. I told her no, and thankfully, I wasn't going to Dalton because I was so tired, I could've been mistaken.

After landing at my small, local airport:
"Where is everybody????"

While riding home in my mom's car:
"It's sooooo dark. Where are all the lights? It's dangerous to drive like this."
"Wow! There's so much nature....so much space between buildings....so much land. Only one-story buildings???!!"
"Where are all the cars? It's only 10:30 pm."

After arriving at my house and getting ready for bed:
"It's sooo cold. Are you sure the heat is on? What's the temperature??"
"My bed is so high off the floor! I feel like a queen up here. I practically have to climb to get up here."
"Where can I put my shoes? I shouldn't walk with them through the house."

After eating Western food for the first few times:
"This is sooooo salty! You could get a heart attack if you ate too much of this."
"Why does this have so much oil?"
"Ugh. That's tooooo sweet!"
"Ah, I still love Mexican food. REAL Mexican food. But yes, it's salty and oily. :("
"I think I forgot how to use a fork...."
"Ew....city water. :P"

While eating Korean curry or tteokbokki with my mom and friends:
"Are you sure this is spicy?? I can't taste anything!! Just potatoes. :P"

After shopping in Walmart and Sam's Club:
"Where are the escalators?"
"Wow! EVERYTHING is on one floor!!!"
"No free samples?? :("
"Where are all the employees? I have a question. Why can't I find someone to help me??"
"Aw, no exercise music. :(" (Many Korean businesses such as these play exercise music intermittently for the employees to exercise in unison. It's so funny to watch! I love it.)

Gradual observations:
The American accent is strong. I think I lost a bit of my accent in Korea...
Oh yeah, I have to pay tip....even though American restaurant waiters don't do much more than Korean ones.
Taxes?? I wish they'd already counted that in the price. I thought it really was $1.99. :P
It's so quiet and dark at night, and there are STARS! :D
I have way too much free time. It's easy to get bored.
Nature is EVERYWHERE. :D
Internet, especially free wireless internet, is so hard to find!!!
I have to drive if I want to do something...anything.... :(
Everyone invites me to their home. Yay for comfortable, friendly home gatherings. :)
HUGS!!!!!!!! I love hugs. :D
Why did it snow two weeks ago, and now it's 68 degrees Fahrenheit?? in December??
Asking "How old are you?" is a taboo question....got to remember that.
Strangers smile at me and say "Hello." This is weird....but kind of nice. :)
Ah, a REAL church Bible study!!! So refreshing. :) And the songs and service are allllll in English. Real English! And I'm learning new things!!!
Wow. I have a lot more friends than I thought I did!
Why are there Christmas decorations up already??? (in November) Why do Americans decorate so much for Christmas?? What is the point of this holiday? Where did this tradition really come from??
Hurray for a REAL massage and a chiropractic adjustment! Sigh. :)
A bathtub!!! I forgot about those.
Yay! No more squat toilets. And bathrooms smell so much better when the toilet paper is flushed.
Why don't we have a separate trash bag for food?
You mean there's not a button I need to press to turn on the hot water?


  1. HAHAHA I love you my friend! I can resonate with most all of this...though one thing was different upon my landing in LAX..."Why are there so many Mexicans? Ah yeah, and I'm one of them." lol!

  2. Such an interesting list! So interesting how each person notices different things upon returning from living abroad long-term. For me, I had slightly more culture shock coming back from 8 months in Tanzania than coming back from 8 months in Korea. The biggest two things that I noticed right away were that there were so few black people and that Seattle airport was so filled with Asian people. :) Some of the things you mentioned in this post struck me as well when I came back, while others I didn't notice (things like keeping shoes on in the house, which is never done in Canada anyway).

    Hope your new adventure in Korea is excellent!