Seosan’s one and only Seattle Lounge, or as it’s known to locals, The Seattle Rounge.
A group of about 8 or so teachers were sitting around at a restaurant when someone inquired about the best place to get cheap products from back home. Another person came back quick with an answer: the Costco in Seoul. “You know it!” I shouted, beaming with pride upon hearing the answer. “I hope you all know that’s a Seattle company.” My exclamation was met with dull stares, and that’s when I realized: I just got excited over an international wholesale warehouse whose main claim to fame is that it sells 96 rolls of toilet paper in a single package – simply because the company is based in Seattle. A funny thing happens when you’re far from home: your appreciation for all things native to your city, no matter how big or small, becomes greatly exaggerated. I like to call this, “The Home Sweet Home Phenomenon.”
To borrow a page from Jeff Foxworthy, you might have a case of the Home Sweet Homes if:
– You find yourself proclaiming that your city’s sports franchises are superior to all others, regardless of the fact that they actually suck crap.
– That, in reference to a food item, you’ve recently used the sentence, “Nobody makes better (name of dish) than (name of restaurant) on (street name). Nobody!”
– Every time someone mentions the weather, you tell them that this heat/cold/rain/snow/humidity doesn’t even come close to the way it is back in your town.
– You inexplicably remember every movie or television show that was about or filmed in your city.
The Home Sweet Homes can manifest themselves in other ways too. Without even trying, I suddenly find myself telling more and more people about the glory of Starbucks (and did you know my family used to go the same synagogue as the Schultzes), or how Boeing 747’s revolutionized air travel. Lately I’ve taken to blasting increasing amounts of Pearl Jam and Nirvana songs on my iTunes, which is troubling because grunge was so 15 years ago. There are even times when I’m tempted to trade in my Mac for a good ol’ Windows machine, just because it’s got that homey Microsoft touch (actually I would never consider that, but for the purpose of this post please play along).
So what’s the reason for all this hometown-hype? The reason is simple. When you’re off on your own in a strange land, your home becomes your definition; your accent your calling card. It’s a security blanket of sorts – the thing you cling to out of sheer instinct. Here in Seosan there is a mash of foreigners from all over the world, each with their own slang, their own viewpoints, and their own tastes. Meeting other teachers from around the globe has been one of the unexpected bonuses of this trip, as is the good-natured jabs we take at each others’ hometowns. For instance, this past Fourth of July I took every opprtunity to remind my friend from England about awesomeness of the Revolutionary War. Not missing a beat, he politely reminded me that the British pound is worth almost twice as much as the U.S. dollar. Point taken, but seriously, red coats? What were you guys thinking?
And so it goes. A couple from New Zealand just moved in. The sheep jokes have already started.