Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Seoul:
Life here is much simpler than back at home. The economic climate in Canada is still trembling, and as one with a Bachelor’s degree in English, job prospects are sparse. In Korea my housing is taken care of and I’m paid quite well. I have little to stress out about. Culture here is fascinating – I don’t think I experienced culture shock in the traditional sense because I immersed myself in this new-yet-ancient culture and I firmly believe that learning about a culture, especially beforehand, can prevent painful homesickness.
The foreigner community in Seoul is huge, and still quite large in my corner in Incheon. It can be easy to fall into a big, heavy-drinking crowd, and that’s cool if that’s what you want. But you can also easily find like-minded types and people who are interested in the same things if you put out a little bit of effort.
As for culture shock, not really. It’s more like culture amusement. I love the differences in Korea and I feel many cultures could learn from them. The longer I stay here, the more detached I get from the USA. I don’t really think I could see myself living in the USA now since Korea is such a safe and convenient place to be. It’s also a great place to do business.
Seoul is not a city that will sweep you off your feet. You’ll get out of it what you put into it, but if you make the effort it’s endlessly fascinating. Bone up on the country’s history, especially the modern stuff. It goes a long way to understanding the country’s society and attitudes. The city and people move at a breakneck pace, and you’ll unavoidably get caught up in it. Relaxing here pretty much requires a deliberate decision to do so, but it’s absolutely necessary that you make that decision once in a while.
Read, read, read. Read anything you can get your hands on about other peoples’ experiences here. It will help to temper your expectations and realize that there is an extremely wide range of possible experiences you can have here. Also read about the research behind culture shock. It’s a lot more complicated than you might think, and it’ll help you to deal with it better when (not “if”) it strikes you.Learn Hangul, the Korean alphabet.
We were very fortunate to become fast friends with some of our coworkers at our school. When we first came to Korea, there were many things that we needed help with and we were lucky to have met so many wonderful friends that have been more than willing to lend a hand. However, if you are not as fortunate as us, the expat community in Seoul is amazing. There are many outreach programs that get like-minded expats together in a variety of ways.
The year before I moved to Korea, Daniel and I were both working 60+ hours per week, sharing one car, and hardly ever got to spend time together. For the last two years since teaching English in Korea, we have been together 24/7. We both teach at the same school and share the same office. Some might think that’s too much time together, but for us, what’s better than being with your best friend all the time?! I think my super power is “Easy Adaptation in Foreign Cultures” because I haven’t ever really experienced culture shock (except when going back to the US!).