When I mention that I lived in South Korea and may move back to Asia (this time to Japan), people ask me a lot of questions. They can be pretty blunt, so let’s just get this out of the way.
Q: Isn’t it hard to be away from your family and friends?
A: Not really. Email, Skype and other apps make it easy to stay in touch.
Q: Isn’t the food weird over there?
A: The other day, I watched someone eat a sandwich made of pulled pork topped with macaroni and cheese with a pretzel as a bun. While the Pretzel Bomb looked delicious, I’m totally fine eating octopus and rice burgers from time to time.
Q: Don’t all Asian people look alike?
A: Ugh. No. If you stay there for a while, you can sometimes tell which part of the continent people are from. Many Asians think we all look alike. I’ve been mistaken for everybody from Bruce Willis to Eminem to Mr. Bean.
Q: I heard their porn is weird, isn’t it?
A: Sure, but if you go to any American porn site, you’ll find weirder — I’ve seen ads for a video of Hillary Clinton getting gang-banged. I think a robot dragon screwing an anime character is a lot less, uh, I don’t know. Let’s just avoid the porn question right now.
Q: What about Asian culture? Isn’t that weird?
A: Asia is a continent with 48 different countries. Each country has thousands of years of culture as well as history. Yeah, some of it is bizarre, but you know what’s really odd? Somebody tried to teach me about the Kardashians. I’m still a bit flabbergasted on the ins and outs and why I’m supposed to know/care.
Q: Why not just find a job here?
A: I’ve been applying to about 10 jobs a day in the United States. Most places seem to want me to sell umbrellas door to door. Not to sound like a whiny millennial, but I’m not doing that.
Q: Why not teach in the USA?
A: I have applied to a ton of universities but received only rejection letters. Yeah, I could make the sacrifices and feel good by giving back to U.S. communities, or I could move to the Far East and be respected, earn a great salary, enjoy benefits (like health insurance) and giving back to a community — just not my own.
Q: Won’t it be hard to make friends?
A: Some of the friends I made in Asia are the best friends I’ve ever had, and the foreigner communities are generally very tight knit. I befriended three completely random Koreans during my time there: the lady at the post office, a café owner and a Korean gangster (we bonded over tattoos, baseball and weightlifting).
Q: Aren’t Asian people rude?
A: Of course, but so are we. Little old Korean ladies will elbow you to grab seats on the subway, but I’ve never seen Asians clipping their fingernails or blasting their music on mass transit.
Q: Why don’t you like America anymore?
A: It’s not that. I just like having a job. Right now, I’m a glorified bus boy. If somebody in the newspaper or magazine biz in Iowa wants to hire me, I’ll pack my bags tomorrow.
Here’s my question: Anybody know anybody hiring? My knees are going out, so my barkeep career is coming to an end.
Read more Freeman: coloradodaily.com/columns. Stalk him: comfyconfines.wordpress.com