Happy belated 4th of July to all of my American friends! As everyone back home stuffed themselves with hot dogs and hamburgers whilst admiring fireworks near or from afar, I was teaching my 6th grade students phone invitation etiquette in an 80-degree classroom. Hooray!
This last month has been quite tough, to say that I’ve been just busy is an understatement. Is there a word that describes busier than busy? Well, that’s where I’m at… hence why I’ve been slacking on my blog. Luckily, I’ve left some time for fun on the weekends (which admittedly I put in priority over blogging), but if you expect me to come out for dinner and drinks on a weekday I’d say you’re out of your damn mind.
Which brings me to today, feeling tired, frustrated, and sweaty. When the air conditioner is broken in a room of 26 perspiring, smelly prepubescent children during the summer, it reeeally takes a toll on your mood. Going on social media and seeing everyone enjoying the fireworks with their friends and families did nothing to help said mood either. On top of my regular lesson planning, I’m in the midst of planning for a 10 day long English summer camp which begins at the end of the month and trying to figure out what the hell I want to do for next year (if I want to move, there’s deadlines coming up at the same time as my summer camp, yay).
Despite all of this (and after some venting to my friend in an air-conditioned office), I don’t want to go home. In fact, feeling this stressed living abroad during America’s biggest summer holiday has really made me think. Normally at this time of the year, I’m either with friends or family eating and watching the fireworks while wearing red, white, and blue. Obviously, this year is a lot different.
Do any of you have family members that you don’t particularly care for? You don’t like them, but you’re obligated to pretend you do? You avoid talking to them like the plague, but dammit today is their birthday and your mom is reminding you that you should give them a call because, well, they’re family? Well, Happy Birthday America. I hope you can’t hear it in my voice that I really don’t feel like talking to you.
Which brings me to my main point – living abroad has killed my patriotism. Granted, it’s been dissipating for several years, but the combination of the political climate at home and moving to the other side of the world has put the nail in the coffin. How so?
- America puts its students into such crippling debt. I’ll admit, this is something I’ve been bitter about for a long time. Moving to Korea has just solidified how fed up I am with it. Unfortunately, the cost of education is going up in Korea and other Western countries like the U.K., but it has not reached the level that it is in the U.S. (and I hope it never does). Not only does the principal cost kill us, but these interest rates are beyond out of control. Expecting graduates to be able to pay $500 to $1000 a month as a standard repayment for student loan debt right out of college is so unrealistic and ludicrous. There’s no way this is going to improve in the next 4 years with having a clown as Secretary of Education. She can take my $60,000 and shove it up her –
- America makes it impossible to find a decent paying job with said education. So not only do we graduate with thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt, then we end up having to take a mediocre job in order to pay the bills, being lucky if we get the opportunity to save money. Upon graduating, I quickly discovered that I made a lot more money staying a waitress than any entry-level position in my field. “Oh, well you just have to start from the bottom and work your way up. That’s what I did at your age!” says 55-year-old Bill. Well Bill, did you have $100,000 of educational debt when you were a youngster?! No? Then shut the hell up.
Did I mention that these ‘entry-level’ positions also require you to have like 2-5 years of experience? Do you hear that Bill? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET EXPERIENCE WHEN EXPERIENCE IS ALREADY REQUIRED???
- Healthcare….I’m not even gonna get too far into this one because of how angry it makes me. See my previous article “When Going to the Doctor Doesn’t Cost You an Arm and a Leg.” Short version – America is outrageous with healthcare. I never have to worry about that bullsh*t in Korea.
So there you have it. The top 3 reasons why America has become that relative that I never want to talk to, and how living abroad solidified it. I could honestly go on and on but we’d be here for an hour. In case you haven’t picked it up on it already, I have no intention of moving back home after my contract is over in February (I’m just figuring out where exactly I want to go for next year). My life is far from perfect here and there’s some things about Korean culture that I don’t particularly like, but in my point of view, it’s still better than living in the States at the moment. Here, I have a respectable job (teaching is MUCH more of a respected position here than in America) that pays well where I can save a good chunk of money each month. Whenever have to go to the doctor or the hospital, I never have to worry about being able to afford to go. I can even afford to travel to some other countries for vacation. If I were to choose to go home after just one year, I’d either have to get my master’s degree right away (putting me in even further debt) or go back to serving. Yeah, f*** that.