by Guest Beanie
This month’s theme couldn’t have come at a more sentimental time for me. In just a few short weeks, I will have packed up my entire apartment, said goodbye to the friends I’ve made during the past four years, and be on my way back home to the other side of the planet–I’ll also be traveling to Seoul for the first time. Eight-years-ago-me didn’t even know what country Seoul was in. I had never been outside the USA, and certainly wasn’t planning on spending the first four years after college graduation teaching English in China. Life’s funny that way.
After four years, the apartment where I built my life in China holds a lot of memories. Aside from the obvious real life ones, this is where I witnessed events like the launching of the new Dramabeans and the fall of DramaFever. It’s where I fell in love with Im Joo-hwan, Park Bo-gum, Seo Ji-hoon, Jung Kyung-ho, and goodness, so many others. It’s where I discovered DAY6.
But of course the apartment hasn’t always been this full and familiar. I can remember so clearly those first few weeks here: sitting on the couch in a nearly empty room, fighting jetlag and watching White Christmas and What’s Up on some awful illegal website because it was the only one that would load, and dramas, at least, felt like home.
I have a strange relationship with that word, “home,” you see. Every place I’ve lived so far has been–to an extent–temporary, but they all hold important positions in my heart. It may be cliché to say “home isn’t a place,” but it’s also true. I think “home” for me is becoming more of a feeling or an assurance than anything else, a place of comfort and security; a space that is my own, at least for a time. As such, it’s become very important for me to find “constants” that can travel with me from one physical space to another.
K-dramas, and fellow drama watchers, are one of the constants that I have found. In some ways, they are a connection to my life back in the States. I was introduced to K-dramas by a friend during our sophomore year of college, and I subsequently introduced my sister to them as well. While living abroad, I’ve kept in contact most frequently with that sister, and I’d guess at least half of our communication is about either the dramas we’re currently watching or the K-pop groups we love. Likewise, dramas can also be a connection to people in new places. There’s just something about learning you and a stranger are both emotionally invested in the same story that instantly makes you feel as though you already understand each other on a deeper level.
But dramas can also be a virtual place for me to retreat into. When I’m having a rough day, I can sit down at my laptop and cry over someone else’s problems, problems that are much bigger than my own. For example, fighting in a literal war with your brother in the opposite army. Or if I’m feeling too weighed down for something as heavy as Nokdu Flower, I can choose something cute and funny instead, or something with a ridiculous plot that’s a blast to make fun of. When I’m feeling like a cultural outsider (which now happens both in China and in the US), I can come here to Dramabeans and talk with people about the interests we have in common.
I think it’s that last point that makes dramas so special to me, because while living in a different culture is awesome, it can also be exhausting. Having shared experiences with people—whether those experiences be real life or in dramaland, and whether those people are physically or virtually nearby–is precious, because it creates the familiarity that assures me I’m home. That’s something I can always return to, no matter where in the physical world I end up next.
Life on Mars
Tags: Theme of the Month