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 South Korea:
Coming from a country that values individualism and instills a great deal of it in its people is a contrast to Korean culture, which is more collectivistic. The amount of group think came as a huge surprise. Another challenge for me when I first got here was trying to coexist as a vegetarian in a place that is esteemed for it barbecues.
My lifestyle in the Philippines is ENTIRELY different from my lifestyle here in SK. To discuss why or how would only make me nostalgic. At first, it was very difficult to adjust to Korean life, especially when I could barely speak Korean. I'm not that fluent in Korean Language (yet), but somehow I'm able to get by. I studied reading, writing and speaking Hangul. This is one of the most important things you should learn when you live in SK.
After I’d been there a while and got use to a lot of their customs I started to bow to the Koreans when they bowed to me. There was an incident when I was on a platform waiting for a train and a man walked towards me and I automatically bowed. It was only afterwards that I realized it was another westerner. I walked on quickly and giggled to myself.
Be very aware that living in a non-native speaking country can be frustrating, so a good sense of humor is a plus! Accept the frustration, laugh about it and move on. Every time I had an odd or frustrating encounter I just told myself that it would make a great blog entry at the end of the day. I saw it as an investigative journalism piece and it didn’t seem so bad.
Challenge yourself. The photos and the passport stamps are only half the story. The greatest gift of travel is the one you give to yourself. Be prepared to learn a lot about “you” during this time and see it as a chance to explore and challenge yourself in new ways that you might have been afraid to before.
Life in Korea is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Every day is different and even after all the time I’ve spent here I will still have a moment every day where I have to giggle to myself at just how bizarre and wonderful things are here.
I thought I was prepared, having been here twice for short breaks, but I wasn’t. There’s a world of difference between a holiday and living somewhere all the time, and if I was to do it all again I’d acknowledge that.
Our life in Korea is much more slow paced, and much more simplistic than living back home which we have really enjoyed. When we first arrived, however, we went through a few weeks of the typical culture shock. This may sound a little rough but my first impression of our city was how dirty it looked.
As Korea was not my first time living in Asia the culture shock was kept at a minimum! Not only that but where we lived was the biggest shipbuilding yard in the world which meant there were always loads of foreigners kicking around.
In all honesty I barely prepared for the big move as far as researching what the overall experience would be like. I think we were ready for an adventure and to just jump into it with open arms. It was perfect that way - no expectations means no disappointments, right?
I’ve met some of my best friends in Korea and we’re even going traveling together when our teaching contracts are up!