Adjustment has always been one of the most common challenges that a person encounters in life. The world constantly changes and so is life. Change is the commonest part of life that is inevitable. Most of the time adjusting is the hardest part of change that we had to go through. One moment you are all comfortable with something and the next thing you know you have no choice but to let go. It is always painful to let go of something valuable especially when you are used to having or seeing it daily and it has ultimately become a part of your everyday life.
Having lived in two different countries can be quite tough at times. There have been numerous adjustments that I had to make to enable me to fit in an entirely new place. There are a lot of differences when it comes to the comparison of Asian and Western culture. Since I was born in Korea and stayed there until I was fourteen years old, majority of the things and people that I have learned to become comfortable with are from there.
I was raised in an Asian culture where traditions are highly valued. Extended families living in a single home are common unlike in the States where families are most likely to be somewhat smaller. I grew up with my relatives living just about 5 meters away from our house. My cousins lived just about 2 blocks from our house so I grew up playing with them every afternoon. My parents were the averagely strict ones. They uphold rules at home which I had to follow or else I would most likely be grounded for a week or slapped on the buttocks. My father was the disciplinarian while my mother was the sympathetic one.
I was raised with a constant reminder from my parents that every decision I make, no matter how light or heavy, will make an impact in my future and in the next generations. My parents were very much particular that I socialize with other kids and join school activities where I could learn a great deal and gather experiences. They would always explain to me how important it was to join extra-curricular activities to enable me to become a good leader one day. I believed I met a lot of good people and made many true friendships in Korea.
So, the news of leaving Korea to migrate in the States left me an overwhelming sense of fear. I have made a lot of friends and the thought of leaving them had produced an intensifying fear in me. I did not want to leave my country even if I have heard a lot of good things about America. I knew that once we left for America everything would change and nothing would ever be the same again when we come back to Korea. The idea that I would be meeting different kind of races and culture scares me.
I was not a very sociable type of guy so people usually talk to me first before I approach them. It was hard building new friendships especially when you have already built one where you are most comfortable with. I tried convincing my parents to stay in Korea or at least let me stay. I even came to a point that I promised to do everything they asked me to just so I could stay. Of course, it did not work. Eventually, I was forced to come to America.
We left Korea and migrated to the States when I was fourteen. I did not expect it to be that much of a burden at first. However, when we were finally living in a house and I was already enrolled in a school, was when I realized how hard it was to smoothly adapt in an environment I am entirely unfamiliar of. I was only a teenager then. I was unaware of the emotional and intellectual problems that could arise. All I knew was the fact that I was scared to go out of our new house and make friends because people on the streets seem to be much different than those in my hometown. They did not seem approachable and friendly to me. There was an incident when a kid from the neighborhood asked me, “Hey new kid, ‘you Chinese?”
“No, I’m Korean.” I replied coyly.
“What’s the difference anyway, you’re both here to sell us thousands of China junks, right?” the boy laughed as he left me there completely defeated. I knew he had just made a racist remark but I could not defend myself because I lack the English words to say. I was homesick for a couple of months. I was longing for phone calls from relatives and friends to assure me that they still remember me. I did not appreciate the sudden change until I began learning the English language and communicating with fellow students.
I realized that the best way to overcome my fear of not belonging in a new place and culture is to face it with willingness. We were already on Seattle and there was nothing else I could to that could change my parents’ minds in sending me back home. I finally realized that I was not the only one adjusting to the drastic change. My family was trying as well. After a year or so, I was able to adapt gradually with the help of my parents who would constantly support me in my endeavors and relieve me by telling me that everyone has their own adjustments to make. At that time, moving to a completely different place enabled me to understand the fact that most of the time changes happen for the betterment of something.