So after quitting my job just over a week ago, I hopped on a plane back to the States to visit my home, friends, and family. I knew it wouldn’t be any less stress than what I deal with in Korea (and I was right, it’s actually a bit more), but I knew I wouldn’t be able to come back home for a while once I start working again. After being here a week, I have really noticed a difference in myself and my lifestyle than when I left. Here are some of the ways that Korea has changed me:
For starters, I am much calmer. I don’t know if it is just that I am a year older, married, or just living abroad, but I am definitely calmer. In America, everything irritated me about everyone around me. I honestly was still struggling with it when I first moved to Korea, too, but something has changed. Being back this last week, nothing has been bothering me anywhere NEAR how it used to. Pet peeves I used to have I just sit and observe with a sense of neutrality that I have never felt before. It amazes me and even my family.
Something else that I have noticed is my eating. Being married to a Korean, I cook almost exclusively Korean food at home for my husband. I used to be 50 pounds heavier almost 5 years ago and started “dieting” by cooking Korean, but having lived in Korea I see better what Korean food really is, I have started cooking much more traditionally (read: balanced Korean meals). So, that being said, going from eating one of the healthiest diets in the world (I heard this claim on Dr. Oz’s show one day so it has to be true. Yes, of course.) back into a Georgian environment scared the heck out of me. I looked around and the physical size of the majority of people I saw shocked me. At the same time everyone has been saying I’m too skinny and that I don’t eat enough at meals. Korean and American eating habits are so dramatically different and I will tell you how:
- Portions in Korea are ALF the size of those in America. One plate of food in America can easily feed two people from Korea. When I brought my husband (then fiance) for a visit and took him out to eat, I ordered one plate for us to half. Dubious that was enough, he also ordered an appetizer and later regretted it after the food arrived. He said, “You said you ordered one meal and they will half it for us. They brought us two full plates.” Exactly.
- American diets contain way too many carbs and protein. All I see are starchy potatoes, bread, bread, bread, MEAT, some more bread, is there something green there? that should be overcooked and devoid of nutrition or smothered with sauce. I really miss the natural flavors of vegetables… a lot. Korean meals usually have 3/4 or more 반찬 or sidedishes that are almost exclusively vegetables and I prepare this in addition to the main protein (which will have more veggies in that, too), on top of a smaller portion of rice.
- Salt, butter, and sugar intake is CRAZY. I went to Chickfila and ordered a Coolwrap. Let me tell you, those fries were WAY too salty and actually made my tongue hurt after just three. The sweet tea was just… sugar water. Now, I love sugar and I do eat lots of snacks in Korea, but I have lost weight with only exercising about 2/3 days a week if I am lucky. I am scared to go out to out and eat…
Everyone thinks I starve myself but in truth I just can’t keep up, not even if I genuinely tried.
Shopping is something different, too. This also goes hand in hand with going out in general. Everything is so far, and public transportation? What is that? I have a car here in the U.S. that I let my family drive to keep it in commission and even with that, it’s so inconvenient. Most things are no more than 40 minutes away and from where I live in Korea, Seoul is an hour away but I still see the hour away as less consuming than the 40 minute drive. I say this because of my husband. He makes me do other things on the train like study/read/do things I normally do not have time to do (even satiating my casual gaming fix). After driving to the store and already exhausted with fighting traffic, I go into the store and am so underwhelmed. I miss the subway shopping, the clusterf*ck of stores upon stores, signs overlapping signs, that I am almost disinterested in shopping. I went shopping for the first time in the U.S. in over a year. I’m a size 2…I left America a size 6. I also tried on a size XS and had to get a top in petite size… I have NEVER considered myself that small. This wouldn’t be bad if my body shape was like Koreans though. My natural 5″5′, medium boned, pear shape isn’t done justice with Korean designed clothes so shopping while on vacation here is a must…especially shoe size. *tear
So this is just a little bit of what has been going on in my mind since I have been visiting. I miss Korea terribly so and am considering cutting my trip a week short to be back in time for 추석 (Chuseok is Korea’s Thanksgiving, essentially). My husband’s family is not traditional and this really disappoints me, so I asked to be taught the traditional foods for holidays a year ago and have been cooking them on the two big holidays since. Traditions are SUPER important to me so thinking of my future kids, got to build the habits now. Anyhow, feel free to leave comments/ask questions. I enjoy them!