Thursday, September 27, 2012

Be Aware

 You know what really bothers me? People who come to other countries – especially to work – and complain when they find out it's not like their own country. Why would you come to another country if you thought it would be the same as America? Or the UK? Or wherever?

Of course, it's going to be different here. You should have known that going in. I hear people complaining about the way things are done here – the Inshallah Attitude. I've heard people complain about the way people act – this is a country that really has a 'saving face' tradition, and therefor, people will tell you what you want to hear, even if it's incorrect. This isn't the same thing as lying. It's an aspect of the culture that you need to be aware of. That you should have been aware of before you got here.

It's one thing going to a country without doing any research on the place – that's fine. As long as you can adapt to whatever comes your way. But if you are a very inflexible person, set in your ways, then don't sign up for an English teaching job abroad without having a serious soul-searching discussion with yourself. If the way they do things in a country just stands your hair on end and you can't handle it, then don't come.

It's fine to visit such a place, just to see what it's like, but living there is a totally different ball game.

If you have a problem with the way they do things but are willing to adapt, to do things their way for a while, then it will be a growing experience. If you aren't willing to adapt, then of course you are going to have problems.

Another pet peeve of mine is when people aren't aware that they are representing their country when abroad. I am always majorly embarrassed by Americans who act up abroad. I had an encounter with a bunch of drunk Americans in a Jjimjilbang (Korean Spa) once that ended with me leaving in disgust because I didn't want to be associated with them. Do they seriously not understand that they are leaving the worst impression of Americans? Now, everyone who has come into contact with them that night will not only think all Americans are loud, rude, and obnoxious (not to mention drunks), but they will tell their friends and co-workers.

Living in another country is difficult (some more so than others). You have to be aware of so many things at once – political atmosphere, cultural norms, language, local laws, local scams, and most especially, your surroundings. You have to keep these things in your head at all times or run the risk of making a serious mistake that can cost you friends, contacts, money, jobs, or emotional and physical well-being.

But if you can't take the heat, folks, stay out of the kitchen.

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