Ugly Duckling

Sarah Brashers, Contributing Writer

Like the Ugly duckling “Foreigner Foreigner Foreigner” the whispers surround me wherever I go. I feel like I am always being watched, judged, and observed, sometimes it is just curiosity other times it feels taunting. I feel so different when I just want to fit in and be like everyone else, but my hair and eyes give me away like a snitching sibling. In some ways, I don’t have it as bad as my brother, with his silky blond hair and bright blue eyes, an even bigger spectacle.  

But, one time when we went to a historical sight near our house, in Seoul, to learn more about the culture and history of Korea we saw the many tourists there. There were many of the local Koreans and a few came up to us and asked if they could take a picture with us, we knew they were curious, so we agreed. However, later when we were leaving the site a group of Chinese tourists spotted us and immediately swarmed us like bees to honey, my poor brother got separated from us when they were trying to take pictures and we quickly grabbed each other to stay together and get out. We thankfully were able to stay together but from that day forward we became wary of tourists from Asian backgrounds, even though we knew they never meant to be rude, it was just because of their curiosity and culture. However, it still made me dislike sticking out like a sore thumb again wishing I could fit in. 

When I went to school it was not much different, I was still different because it was a Korean school and I was the only American kid there. The kids would always try to talk to me in English, the teacher would try to get me to cheat on the spelling test so I would pass, but I never gave in. It was definitely partly my fault I was different and maybe they were just trying to help me but it made me uncomfortable that I had to be separated. 

Now unlike the ugly duckling, I was never, for the most part, hated in fact quite the opposite but I hated the attention and being introverted as I am only made it feel worse. After feeling like I stuck out so much in Korea I was so excited to go back to America where I was certain I would fit in, but I found that I was still just as different. Living in Korea made me miss out on some of the things all the American kids did and made me miss out on all the popular books and movies of their childhood. I also was so used to some aspects of Korean culture that surprisingly I felt cultural shock coming back to my own country. However, I realize now that I am never going to fit in anywhere and that’s okay because I am a 3rd culture kid.