Top 10 Unexpected Personal Changes Part II

by Jason -- April 19, 2010

I previously wrote a “Top 10 Unexpected Changes Due to Long Term Travel“, and now that we’ve settled down in Korea, there have been a whole slew of new additions to the list. Without further ado I now present to you my top 10 unexpected personal changes as a result of quitting my job and traveling throughout Asia — part II.

  1. I still have the same pair of sunglasses that I left the states with!
    If you know me well, you know that I lose things…a lot. This is why I don’t buy expensive pens, sunglasses or anything else that is easily lost. It’s amazing to me that I have not yet broken or lost my sunglasses. On a very related side-note, Sharon has lost 7 (yes, 7) pairs of sunglasses during this trip and is currently sporting her 8th pair. I win!
  2. I’m a chopstick master!
    I don’t mean to toot my horn, but who knew Mr. Miyagi would one day be envious of my chopstick skills? After using chopsticks for nearly every meal, I have really upped my chopstick game.
  3. It feels strange being in a car.
    I never would have imagined it possible to feel strange to be inside a car, but after traveling by bus, subway, and train for so long – in the rare occurrences we get into a taxi, it’s kind of weird. I can’t imagine how strange it will be to drive a car again.
  4. I’ve eaten more rice in the last 6 months than I have in the rest of my life prior to this trip.
    In all honesty, this is probably not true, but I do eat a LOT of rice. The one common denomination between Asian foods has been rice. Essentially every meal, with the exception of breakfast, includes rice in some way. Interesting Korean fact: The word for rice in Korean, “bap”, is also the same word for meal – without rice it’s not a real meal.
  5. I’m terrible at learning Korean.
    I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s come as quite a surprise to have such a hard time learning the language. In general, I’ve been a successful student, but Korean has been a big fat exception. Perhaps learning a language requires a whole different type of thinking than learning business or math. I continue to apply myself, but it’s growing continually frustrating.
  6. I not only eat spicy food, I enjoy it!
    In the US, spicy food was something I stayed away from as much as possible. Many of my friends probably would have classified as being a “wimp” when it comes to spicy food (to put it nicely). But slowly growing my spicy food tolerance has worked and I can honestly say there are some very spicy foods which I actually enjoy.
  7. I rarely hear my name anymore and haven’t been called by my last name in months.
    Most friends call me “Demant” back home. Nicknames are non-existent when friendships last no longer than a couple days. But what’s also interesting is that I’m rarely called by my first name either. When you spend a lot of your time with just one person, you really don’t say their name – you just start talking and it’s obvious who you’re talking to. When you meet new people, they also rarely call you by your name, because they’re scared they’ll get it wrong (at least that’s what I do). So, hearing any part of my name has become a rarity.
  8. I’m basically a vegetarian.
    We never actively decided to become vegetarian…it just kind of happened. Meat is extremely expensive here in Korea, and we just kept putting off buying it, until one day we realized we had become vegetarians (we’re technically pescatarians if you’re splitting hairs).
  9. I cannot tell the difference between different Asian nationalities.
    Going into the trip, I thought for sure I’d be able to go back to the United States and say, “he’s Chinese, or she’s Vietnamese, etc..”, but there is no way this is going to happen. In fact, I now believe it’s a ridiculous thing to say. How do you classify 1.3 billion people into one distinct look that’s “Chinese”?
  10. I miss being gawked and stared at.
    This one mostly applies to my time in Seoul. After visiting places where white people are rarely seen, it was fun feeling like a celebrity and having random kids and adults simply stare at me because I’m white. It wasn’t uncommon for one little kid to spot me and then point me out to all of her friends – as if they were playing a game of spot the “whitey”. In Seoul though, because of all of the foreigners around, I’m no longer a big deal. Here’s hoping that once we get outside of Seoul, my skin color, “large” nose, oval face and light-hair will once again be the subject of staring and pointing…ahh the good ol’ days.

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2 Responses to “Top 10 Unexpected Personal Changes Part II”

  1. I’m sure when you guys go to Busan there will be a lot of staring and pointing. There was when I was there! That bowl o f soup looks so wonderful!

  2. Jason you’re so silly :)

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