Coming Back Home – Reverse Culture Shock, Life in SF & Work
by Jason -- May 29, 2012
It’s been a common question — what’s it like being back home? In this hodgepodge post I wanted to give an update on the “reverse culture shock” I experienced, what it’s like being back home and what I’m doing now for work.
Reverse Culture Shock
In Korea we called it “reverse culture shock” — getting readjusted to living back in America. Overall though, I haven’t experienced much, and I’ve been been really happy living in San Francisco. However, there have been times where it’s felt “weird” to be back home. Such as –
- The first couple of times I walked into a convenience store, I wanted to say “Ahnyanghaseyo” and bow, rather than the standard hello.
- For the first couple of weeks I consistently passed my credit card to the cashier with two hands out of respect.
- When I went into a coffee shop and could understand all of the conversations going around me — that was weird.
- In general being able to communicate with all restaurant and shop employees.
In Korea I assumed that the people around me couldn’t understand my conversation (as long as I spoke quickly). When walking around the streets of Seoul, for example, Sharon and I would often find something we found funny. We’d elbow each other and talk about it — not usually in a whisper either. They couldn’t understand us, so it didn’t matter. We were walking around San Francisco a few weeks ago and saw someone wearing hammer pants holding the hand of an attractive woman who was dressed in completely normal clothes. I of course elbowed Sharon to point it out, and then I made comment in a voice that was far too loud. Fortunately, I don’t think he heard me, but it was a reverse culture situation where I realized I’m not in Seoul anymore and can’t assume people don’t understand me.
Thoughts On Being Back Home
I’m excited to be back in California. What’s made the transition easier and more exciting is that we’ve never lived in San Francisco before. Now we live in the heart of SF in Nob Hill. I don’t know the city very well, so there have been a lot of new experiences and new things to learn. If we had moved back to where we had previously lived, San Jose, I suspect my feelings would be very different.
I’m happy to say I found a great job. In Seoul I helped organize two “This Week in Startups” meetups. I worked with very closely with the ThisWeekIn teams to coordinate these. It was a time consuming and fun process, and it turned out to be essentially part of an interview process.
When I was getting ready to move back, I reached out to Jason Calacanis (the host) for advice on the job search process. I was secretly hoping he would introduce me to some of his angel investments, but instead, he told me of an open “Sales Manager” position at ThisWeekIn. It was a pretty short interview process and after some internal debate I took the job. The company is located in LA, but they want me in San Francisco. I work from home, which I’ve really enjoyed. While only there a couple months, I’ve seen my responsibilities increase to also include business development and I’m loving it. I’m doing different things everyday, meeting lots of new people and learning a lot. We’re a very small team and I’m making an impact — exactly what I wanted.
There are a few funny “wow, we’re not in Seoul anymore” moments that pop up now and then. I still find myself bowing my head slightly to bus drivers or the occasional shop owner. The amount of “crazies” in this city is still hard to believe. Sharon and I also get very excited when we overhear Korean. Unfortunately we’re both too shy to say anything though. Maybe one day I’ll work up the courage to say — “hankook saram-ee-ay-o?” (Are you Korean?)
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