Coming Back Home - Reverse Culture Shock, Life in SF & Work

by Jason -- May 29, 2012

Batteries to Bluff Hike

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 HomeBeing a tourist - Cable Car Museum

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.

The Job

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.

Final Thoughts

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?)

Be awesome and help us share:

8 Responses to “Coming Back Home - Reverse Culture Shock, Life in SF & Work”

  1. Congrats on settling back into the states. No small task to make the leap that you guys have done and land safely. As a fellow San Franciscan, welcome :)

  2. Hey Jason - I continue to enjoy the posts on your adventures. Thanks so much for sharing. :-)

  3. wow, congrats on the job! you got really lucky! I have been considering going home soon but I know the job search will be tricky for me! Would love to move to San.Fran… i wonder if the bowing thing will ever go away, I think i am stuck with it now!

  4. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Noah!

    And thank you Krista! Hope all is well with you!

    @Elizabeth — I definitely got lucky :-)! SF is a great place, I highly recommend it. And yeah, I’m not sure if bowing will ever go away, that seems to be the hardest one to ditch.

  5. Great read. It’s crazy to think you lived in the Bay for so long, but don’t really know SF that well. Then again…I don’t know it too much either. Glad you are back and hope to meet up with you the next time you are in town.

  6. Haha — thanks man. Yeah, visiting SF and living in SF is a lot different. Hope to see you soon as well!

  7. wow, welcome back. I’m glad everything is going well for you two. :) and c’mon practice your Korean with the peeps in San Fran, i’m pretty sure they will love it. Anyway, Bienvenidos. :)

  8. Thanks Linda! We’ll see if we can work up the courage on the Korea, but it’s intimidating :-). Hope all is well with you!


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