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Life in Korea, 2014: Year in Review

Wow, it’s Christmas time already. Time passes by so fast. Merry Christmas everyone, and have a happy new year.

As many of you know, I’ve completed my transition to Korean life, since I sacrificed a lot to move here, I am determined to make good use of my time year.

A few things I want to say about life in Korea compared to life in Western culture. One thing is that gender roles are very separated here, another thing is that people really care about appearances here, and lastly, there’s less individuality here than in America/Canada.

Firstly, I appreciate that gender roles are very clear and distinct here. You don’t have to worry about making a possibly sexist remark, or having feminists complain about something controversial, because it’s very clear here that men have an advantage over women. And Korean women accept it and don’t complain about it. As a guy this makes it much easier to live here.

Secondly, when people care about appearances, society is better for it. Would I rather live in a place where people dress up all the time, where women wear high heels all the time, to a place like Silicon Valley where people can come to work unshaved and in their pajamas? Yes I would. I can compliment a girl on her appearance here and she will react positively to it, whereas in America if I called a girl pretty she would probably glare at me. I never got called handsome when I was in America/Canada, but here I do get compliments sometimes, which is very nice.
We often associate caring about appearance with the word “shallow” which has a negative meaning in western culture. But caring about appearance is not a bad thing. Caring about appearance too much is a bad thing sure, but caring about looking good and hygiene and stuff is generally a good thing and people look much better and cleaner because of it.

Lastly, if you’ve seen different kpop groups on TV, you can see how similar they dress and act. The same is true of Korean society. Everyone dresses and acts similar. Of course, everyone has a distinct personality as well, but there’s less individualism as in Western culture, and more of a group culture here. Doing things alone isn’t very common here. Korean women might have less personality than Western women, but in general they are very nice, polite and dedicated to their boyfriends, and care more about their appearance, so you know more or less what you are getting with them.

Ok, so now onto my annual year in review.

2014: Year in Review

Highlights
-Found a job that lets me work remotely
-BitTorrent helped my career experience a lot
-Korean improved
-Rented my SF apartment out to my good friend
-Found my own place in Korea!

Lowlights
-Financial situation unchanged
-Bedbug infestation which hurt (both physically and financially)
-Nothing new with relationships
-Made very few good friends
-Unexciting year in general

Summary
Let me start the summary by comparing this year to the previous 2 years:

2012 was probably the most exciting year of my life. I was still new to California, I went to language exchange meetups, made a lot of good friends, traveled to almost all the good places on the west coast (SF, Napa, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Stanford, Berkeley, Monterey, Carmel, Santa Cruz, Point Reyes, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, LA, San Diego), work at my company Switchfly was flexible, and I often hung out with my good co-worker friend to play badminton, tennis or video games after work. That whole year from the beginning where I toured my brother across SF, to the end where I spent Christmas and New Years in San Diego with a Korean girl, was amazing. If I had any year I could go back to my life, it would be 2012.

2013 was a year of ups and downs. I went to a lot of parties and clubs, met a lot of people, went to Korea for the first time, went to Vancouver, and got a job at BitTorrent. On the other hand, I suffered a lot of financial loss, a lot of heartbreak, and in general was disappointed with that year compared to 2012.

This year in comparison to 2013, is a year of steadiness. Not a lot of exciting things happened this year, mostly because I was focused on two main goals: 1) Improve my Korean and 2) get to Korea. Ever since I came back from Korea in Sept 2013, I found California very uninspiring, and needed some motivation.
So for the majority of this year, I was hanging out with my good American friend who I met at a meetup, didn’t meet a lot of good friends, went to very few clubs and parties, studied Korean a lot, went to Korea for one week in May, and focused on my goals a lot. So compared to the ups and downs of 2013, this year 2014 was basically a straight line, until the last 4 months, where I went to Toronto, found a job that lets me work remotely, dealt with a bedbug infestation, property tax, SFMTA towing citation, paperwork for renting out my place, ramped up my Korean with a tutor, said goodbye to my SF friends, took out a 1/3rd of my savings to fund my move, found a place in Korea with very limited Korean, and settled down in Korea working from a different time zone. All of that in the last 4 months of this year.

So yeah, this year was relatively unexciting compared to the last 2 years, but at least I achieved my goals by the end of the year, and that’s all that really matters.