I have been living in Korea for almost 2 years now. I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs. I’ve called my mom with joy, anger, sadness and every other emotion I’ve felt on this expat roller coaster. It’s expected to have these crazy emotions while living abroad that sometimes expats become completely clueless to what’s happening back in their hometowns. Expats are so self-centered sometimes that they are too busy talking about their exciting lives and forget to ask how everyone at home is doing. Why do most expats forget about their family and friends back home?
I truly feel guilty that some of friends are going through some really tough times and I’m living it up here in a foreign country. I’m seriously sad that I am not physically there for them to help them out. I never really realized how much my friends needed me on the regular. I guess I under valued myself as a friend. When I left Canada, I honestly thought that I would miss my friends more than they would miss me when it’s complete opposite. I miss my friends but, surprisingly, they miss me more! I feel like a shitty friend.
I am partially guilty of being a bit selfish in conversations with my friends back home. I message some more than others. They usually contact me first with, “I miss you Mona~~ come back already!” It makes me feel wanted yet very sad. I obviously miss my friends back home but it makes me feel guilty for not being there for them when they need me the most. I’ve always been the rock in my group of friends. We’re all at that age where we finished school (or close to finishing school), trying to decide a career, being financially responsible for ourselves then BOOM- shit hits the fan. This is the kind of shit that school doesn’t prepare you for. I’ve already went through one of those stages during university but most of my friends are just now going through that. During my shitty 3rd year of Uni, I had the proper support group available to me; my family, friends, university counselors etc. Sadly, some of my friends do not have the proper support they need right now.
Now, how do I help friends in Canada going through depression when I’m in Korea? It is really difficult. I’m adjusting my sleep schedule so I could speak with them more but they need more than a long distant friend to feel better. I know their family situations and some are helpful while others are not. AND it doesn’t help that I don’t truly know how they are coping. All I know is what they tell me and I don’t know how much of that is accurate. This whole situation left me stuck as to what to do next. I don’t know if I should be worried about their safety yet. It’s hard to evaluate the situation via phone only. I asked my sister to meet up with my friends in lieu of me. I really hope she can gather more information as she knows my friends rather well.
My family is different. I am pretty good at communicating with them on the daily. I know that me being abroad is a bit tough on my family mainly because of my mom. She really misses me and I miss her too. I’m her eldest and I guess it is just some sort of empty nest syndrome my mom is experiencing now. That’s why we talk often. I know everything that’s happening with my immediate family but I’m kept in the dark with matters of my extended family. No one wants me to worry here about the health of certain family members and other issues. It’s kind of unfair to me because when I do find out it’s usually too late. Makes me feel useless. But then again, I would be useless even if I knew everything. This feeling of uselessness is the worst feelings to have when living in a foreign country because it is constantly reoccurring with matters at home and abroad.
Don’t get me wrong. I love living abroad and I can handle this expat roller coaster fairly well. I just never really thought of how me being away from home would cause more distress to the ones I care about back home. I can’t help but to feel selfish and guilty. It’s just really difficult to hear my friends and family struggle and not be able to do anything for them due to distance. Now I’m questioning what my next step should be. Should I continue my plans to travel after my contract is up this summer? Should I go back to Canada right after my contract? I love Toronto but there is nothing there for me career wise at this point and time. I love living abroad but I genuinely worried about my friends and family. I’m seriously stuck. I keep delaying my plans to go home but now I just feel like an asshole. I’m struggling with balancing my own happiness and the happiness of those I care about.