Parallel Conversation


If you really want to annoy the f*ck out of me, there are two things you can say.  One is “hey, your thigh is thicker than before,” and another one is “see all that ‘foreigners’ settled in foreign country and working?  You did not try hard enough.”  No, seriously, before I even think, my fist will be on your face.  I could deal with my qualifications not fitting with the job description.  I could deal with the appearance of a total genius candidate.  But what I really could not deal with was unable to even apply for the position (especially when your qualification fits with job description!), because I did not have the US citizenship, nor green card.   I almost had someone who was so close hiring me.  I thought my hard effort earned it and life is fair.  Oh well, the employer canceled everything.  If the whole thing is screwed because of my own folly or something I could not consider, it’s fine – it hurts, but I am to blame.  Now, if you worked really hard and prepared the whole thing meticulously, but the whole thing was screwed up because of some factor that is totally out of your control, that hurts.  A lot.  Immigration regulations and my nationality is pretty much out of control.

To be honest, there are moments when I almost want to blame my parents for not preparing the residenceship.  I know some people who were in similar situations with me, except the fact that their parents “prepared” the residenceship beforehand.  Almost all of them are now settled in the country of their residenceship.  But I know blaming my parents is no use.  They did not know better, I got good education, and whining doesn’t help.  I should not blame since I’m benefitted then others (another TCK trait, omg).  And it’s not that I did not try (but I must admit, if I ever happen to have a kid like myself, I will make sure he gets a legal right to settle down to the country where he spent most of his life, or the country that is known for bustling diversity like Singapore).

So it annoys the shit out of me, whenever my parents – especially mom – say things like “there are lots of other kids who got a job and visa sponsorship,” “you should have gone to schools in East/West coast, there is geographical discount,” or “it’s unfair how people who studied less with majors like business are having better times (applying LSAT contrapositive, another way of saying ‘my majoring in arts and letters was a waste’).  What is done is done.  Why keep poking at the past things, when doing so gives us nothing? And, like I wrote before, I did all I could do.  There were too many uncontrollable factors, such as sudden change of immigration regulation and recession.  So I came back to South Korea.  Then I figured what Korean society expects me to be isn’t something that is me.  In addition, my parents and I are from different world (literally).  Conclusion: I don’t want to be here, and I need to leave.

The reason why I am studying LSAT and plan to go to law school is precisely that: I want to get out of here, and I will settled own somewhere that is not South Korea, preferrable somewhere with more individuality and diversity.  However, while being the LSAT student I had my doubts.  Back in good old days, graduating from law school pretty much guaranteed a job.  For people like me, that would mean job + residenceship.  Now, even law graduates from top 15 schools have difficulty getting a job – meaning even lesser chance for “internationals” like myself settling down.  My LSAT score is crap, which certainly does not help the situation.  Fine, let’s say I totally win LSAT with score like 175+ and can go to Yale law.  Still, it would not guarantee that I get to stay in the States or somewhere else other than South Korea, because I am still an “international.”  Yup, I had some motivational problem but I keep studying anyway, since I don’t see any better options.

Tonight, as I eat my supper after struggling to stay focused on my LSAT questions in vain, my mom did touch my pet peeve.  She mentioned something like “there are other kids who got their visa sponsorship just fine…”  Though I did not say anything right away, it really shook me.  After supper, I said to my mom, “mom, please do not ever say that again – how the ‘other kids’ got their ‘visa sponsorships just fine.'”  Bit startled, she said she understood.  I was still shaken.  Few minutes later, I asked her again, “do you really think I returned to Korea because I did not try hard enough?”  She said no.  Ah, relief, but I really do not want to her saying it again anytime in the future.   “Mom, seriously, I really want you to stop saying about ‘the other kids’ again.  It’s no different from me saying ‘the other parents who prepared citizenships beforehand.'”  Then she went on saying I’m saying complete gibberish.

What’s the difference?  I could say it, but I don’t, because I know we did not know better and it is no one’s fault.”  My mom said I can’t say such things because they are the *giver* and I am the *receiver*.  Oh god, here we goes again – so Korean.  Did I ever say I am ungrateful for whatever they are giving me? Heck no.  The conversation then turned its way to another direction.  Basically, my mom said she and my dad are not very happy about how I communicate with them.  In other words, they are unhappy about how I don’t keep them updated and share all the details.  “Say, the last time you said about you had to go to the interview, I was stunned.  I thought you were studying for your LSAT and law school, and there you were, going for the job interview!”  This I understand her.  But for me, I kept telling her there’s bigger possibility for me to take another year off (and obviously I’d better do something!), my LSAT score isn’t great and I know it since I am the one who studied and took the test.

The story I told her is this: I tried to share the detailed plans and worries.  In return, all I get from you were just another scolding, no empathy, no solution.  So why would I go through another trouble, when my hands are already full with my own shits?  So I stopped.

Then my mom said that’s not how communication is done.  Well, glad she now realized (sarcasm).

Even if you get the job, do you plan to go to law school?” asked mom, and I said yes.  “But then, wouldn’t it be hard for you to focus on one thing?  If I am to go to law school, I think I will keep all the job stuff aside.”  Like she said, my number one focus for now is LSAT and law school.  But as I said before, that is to settled down in another country, other than South Korea.  That being said, if there is some other channel that makes my goal come closer, I will take every single opportunity.  Thus I finally said, “my goal is to leave this country, and that is why I am studying LSAT and will go to law school.  If getting a job makes my goal possible, I’ll take it.  I know maybe it will be flunked in the middle.  Job and law school, it’s just two different channels for one goal – leaving here and settling somewhere else.  Besides, I never caused you any troubles.”  I think my answer shocked her.

Why do you want to leave here that badly?  You are thinking too highly of yourself.”  said my mom.  I said “look, mom, I don’t think I am higher than any other people.  It’s not the matter of someone sitting on the higher horse or vice versa.  It’s just I don’t fit in here.  I don’t like what they expect me to be to fit in, and the Korean company interviewers know I’m not their best fit either.
How do you know?
Mom, I had a handful of job interviews with Korean companies and I worked in a Korean office, dealing with other Korean companies.
What makes you think Korean companies don’t want you?  You know, newspaper articles say they will hire more people on 2011 and the hiring process will change.  And can you really say you had a proper experience of Korean office, when all you had was some experience in school, doing things like secretary and mediating between school and business”  I can’t believe she still believes the newspaper articles!  And even if the experience was training-like middle ground, if you don’t like the middle ground already, you know you won’t like the real ground.
Mom, what they want is an obedient Korean.  I’m not.  Some others can but I can’t.  There are things I can compromise and things I simply can’t.  This society asks a lot of me to change, when most of those things are uncompromisable things for me.  And believe me, I’ve seen enough of Korean office and their expectations, precisely because I worked as a mediator.

Then again, just like sometime in the past, she said she doesn’t understand me because she knows so many other kids who studied in States yet successfully got a job here and settled down just fine.  She also said I’m extreme, like having no one to hang out in Seoul.  I said, I have friends, it’s just that they are not in same region and I do keep check them over Facebook.  Then my mom questioned whether they are my real friends.

The conversation, again, was running in parallel lines – never converging, always running on two different tracks.  I know she didn’t even look at the book, Third Culture Kids.  I just shook my hands.

Look, mom,” I said, “this is precisely why I don’t want to share.”  I think my mom kept saying something.  I just returned to my room, printing off LSAT explanations.  Then she followed, saying how I always stop talking and leaving the room is why we can’t “communicate.”  How can we really “communicate” when all she talks about is ‘some other kids,’ not me?  And whenever I use analogy, she just says ‘that’s different?’  I just opened my room door and asked her to leave.  She did, after me repeating myself.  So here I am, ranting on the blog, with thicker thigh as an aftermath of 2 weeks of home-grounding due to my sickness and once-in-a-month-woman-thing.  I know this is a terrible thing to say, but I wish I were Bertie Wooster (I won’t go as far as saying ‘with Jeeves.’  That will be asking too much).

I seriously need to leave.  I hoped Santa to get me a new passport.  He didn’t come.


3 responses »

  1. Hey there 🙂 I just wanted to say that I can totally empathize with how you’re feeling. I do read your blog semi-regularly and that you are honestly in my thoughts and prayers wishing you the best every day. Though I’m not one to volunteer advice without being asked, I’ve discovered that if you keep trying and believing, you’ll get what you want. You can have the world if you want it–you just have to want it. Feel free to add me on Skype, Facebook, whatever–you can even call me on my mobile anytime from overseas if you need to vent or talk, I’m happy to help out a fellow TCK. Happy holidays and good luck–maybe we’ll even go to the same law school! Love, Johnny C

    • John, thanks so much for your empathy and kind comment. It’s tough because it’s my parents and I face them on daily basis. Obviously…
      I’m glad things are getting better for you (it seems like it to me!), and often feel bad I can’t be direct help. I do read your blog too 🙂

      Happy new year, and hope the year 2011 will be better one for you!

  2. Hang in there! I’m going to be writing a few entries you may be interested in checking out that have helped me deal with insanity–especially living with it. If you want to add me up, and then you can message me for skype or phone or whatever 🙂

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