Phases and queries

Thursday, 27 March 1997

I just read a few entries from last year. How things have changed!

Anyways, maybe I should start with a breakdown of my situation on 27 March 1997. I have about two million won [USD2000/R10,000] in the bank, ₩28,000 [USD28/R140] in my wallet, and ₩320,000 [USD320/R1,600] in my closet. Next week is payday again – about ₩840,000 [USD840/R4,200]. I’ve been in Korea for almost nine months. After months of longing, plans to go home early and being fed up with life in Korea I have reached a plateau – a very comfortable plateau.

I reckon I have so far gone through four phases: The first phase was one of discovery and adaptation (about three months); then the “Shit! It’s still so long before I can go home!” phase (about three months); the phase of neutrality – you’re not overly positive about the place but you’re not that negative either (about two months); and finally, the stage of comfort and security when you say, “Hey, with a few extra posters on the wall, some extra clothing and so on I can easily stay another year!”

This most recent phase is not bad at all. I have money in the bank, the days and weeks go by with monotonous regularity, and my living and working conditions are comfortable. I’m used to everything by now – my job, my room, my bed, my social activities. And the fact that one has money in the bank and you’re earning a salary … who’d want to leave a situation like this?

That’s my problem – a completely new, uncharted existential crisis. Should I move on, exactly because I might be getting too comfortable, with a sense of security that is almost exclusively based on the continuation of my current situation, or should I cherish the sense of security I am currently experiencing for as long as it lasts?

Is it time to move on, because the stepping stone is getting smooth underfoot, and I must be careful I don’t slip, or is it a case of not killing the goose that lays the golden eggs?

Is Korea still just a stepping stone for Europe, or is it a stepping stone towards a position where I could really make some choices?

Last comment: I must remain ready to move along on short notice.