gra-dult-hood n.

1. A stage in life between graduation and adulthood.
2. Gradulthood often involves jobs that don't fulfil a graduate's expectations.
3. A term coined during the recession.

A Gradult in (South) Korea: Pt. 2

The second part of Christian's 'A Gradult in (South) Korea' series, read the first post here.

'With the advent of native English teachers, Korea has almost become this weird satellite planet, home to those gradults wanting to flee from their home countries for one reason or another. And now Im one of them. Im now a part of this ex-pat community, a word I used to only hear with reference to leather-skinned retirees from Essex who moved to the Costa del Sol for cheaper English food. What is it they say? You can choose your friends, but you cant choose your family. Well, add local ex-pat community into the cant choose category, for better or worse.

Some are fresh-of-the-boat, like me. All degreed up with nowhere to go, weve come over to Korea for a completely different experience and a way of finding employment not available back home. And basically, as with anyone fresh out of university, we strive to continue living a life as close as possible to the student life as being a teacher allows. Drinking to excess on cheap (dirt cheap) Korean liquor and staying up all night. It sometimes seems almost a waste that I have to shoehorn my 9-5 teaching job into this lifestyle. Happily there are enough of these people about to keep me from hanging out with

The outsiders. These are generally the people I wouldnt have hung out with at uni, most likely for the simple reason that my universe would never have overlapped with theirs. These are also generally the people that I run into at the bus stop, or at Seven-Eleven, or anywhere else I may happen to be. Im unable to avoid them in this close-knit community I find myself in. They (mostly) arent horrible people, theyre just different. Most of them seem to have escaped a Western world in which they are uncomfortably socially awkward. But they do seem fairly content, unlike

The haters. Why they are here, Im not really sure. They offer little to the experience of being a foreigner in Korea other than acting as a constant reminder about everything I find annoying with my new environs. Im not saying that I love everything about Korea, I dont. But I dont love everything about anywhere. And I sure as hell dont talk about how much I hate it all the time. But these do. Be it from people spitting in the street to uncooperative taxi drivers to Korean food, seemingly everything and nothing annoys them. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, be it via Facebook or face to face, and yet sadly none of them seem all that interested in jumping on the next plane home. And, funnily enough, a fair few of the haters are also

The lifers. Exactly what it says on the tin. These are the folk that are seemingly set for life in this outcrop of land known as the Republic of Korea. Whether they hate life here or love it, theyre not giving it up for anything. Some of these were in the first wave of native teachers to hit these shores back in the 90s and have just not left. If theyre middle-aged, theyre lifers. Some of these are your classic outsiders, who probably wouldnt take too well to being dropped into Western society again. Then you have those cringe inducing lifers who act like theyre fresh off the boats; borderline alcoholics or endlessly, and mostly fruitlessly, chasing after the locals.

In one form or another, theyre all gradults, albeit not in the guises that Im used to. Some of them came straight here whilst some fled dead-end jobs back home to undertake, well, what is essentially a dead-end job in a different time zone. And all of them act as well-placed warnings as to what life could be like. And if I ever even come close to being in one of the other three camps, Im outta here.'

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