Adam & Nicole: Adventures We Seek
- Recommended Expat Blogs: South Korea
- Tabitha: Allured Abroad
- Chris: From Korea With Love
- Jan: Hanji Happenings
- Maggie: Maggie Moo Does Korea
- Tania: Small and Tall Travel
- Valerie: Far Away Hammer Writing
- Chelsea: Lost in Travels
- Jennie: Jennie McKie
- Andrea: When in New Places
- Kaleena: Kaleena's Kaleidoscope
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to South Korea, etc.
We are Adam and Nicole Damiano, both US citizens living and working in South Korea since our arrival (the second time) in April 2012. Our previous year was spent here from 2009-2010. Just couldn’t stay away ;)
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Our blog (adventures we seek) started in April 2009 when we began the interview process with companies in Korea. At the time we were living in Orlando, Florida. Something told us that this was about to be the beginnings of something great and keeping a chronicle of the experience was important. At that time we wanted it to be something we just shared with family but since 2009 we have had the honor of connecting with so many fellow travelers and bloggers. This keeps us hungry to continue and hopefully help and inspire those looking to make the jump to a life abroad!
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
This is tough because when we look back, they all seem to make us smile but there are a few that stand out and here they are;
Tell us about the ways your new life in South Korea differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I could probably put a small book together on this one but I’ll try and keep it simple. Life in South Korea is certainly different from life in the states but not so much that a foreigner can’t make it a “home” after some time. The culture here is the main backdrop to the differences. The Korean culture is very rich and deep routed in its history. Elders command respect and rightfully so. They have worked hard to transform this county into the global marketplace player that South Korea is today. As such, you may find yourself being shoved aside in their presence but don’t take it personally…..they’ve earned the right to skip over you in line at the supermarket ;) Food is certainly something that will take many visitors some time to appreciate. Korean cuisine is nothing if not spicy and if your sense of adventure for piping hot pepper paste isn’t quite there… don’t worry, it’s a labor of love but in the end it’s worth it. Korean food is exceptionally healthy and if you know how to shop at the local markets, it’s a steal! We certainly had our share of culture shocks along the way. I remember our ride from the bus station, in a cab, on our first night getting to the apartment was pretty special. Our cabby was a nice enough guy but we soon figured out that not only did he like to drive really fast…he also didn’t believe every red light was worth stopping for. Truth is, he’s not alone, so look both ways no matter what….and while you’re at it, look behind too since the likelihood that a motorbike is zooming down the sidewalk is a safe bet. There are going to be things that will amaze you all the time but that is what makes life abroad exciting. If there is one key piece of advice that I could offer to an expat looking to integrate and feel comfortable quickly….it’s to be polite. Even if you don’t always feel like you’re getting it back, bow to people, smile, wave….and I guarantee you will find yourself in a happy place in no time at all, wondering how the rest of the world isn’t feeling this good!
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in South Korea? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
To be honest, no. What we knew came from Internet articles and photos. Even the blogs we read could not have totally prepped us. We packed way too much to begin with. Not having a complete grasp on how developed South Korea is, we brought anything and everything we could stuff in our bags, dreading what life could be like without it. This was a mistake because not only can you find everything here….it’s cheaper and probably in the end will cost less than the extra 2 pieces of luggage you had to take a second mortgage out to transport. In all honesty though, other than bringing less, I wouldn’t change a thing. If this is your first time coming to Korea, just be excited. As in any foreign land, you can only prepare so much. The best thing you can do is plan to not always have a plan and everything will go a lot smoother, I promise.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Any situation has the potential to become memorable in life here. Hiking a local mountain during our first summer brought along its own set of unique unexpected events. To begin, we had no idea we were hiking the largest mountain in the southwest region so the one half empty water bottle we brought along wasn’t going to cut it. This became evidently clear to the mass of mainly elderly hikers who were whizzing along as we clung to trees in disbelief. Armed with snacks and drinks we were fed and hydrated by the friendly locals all the way to the top. All seemed well until we took the path less traveled down the opposing side of the mountain at which time a monsoon ensued. The rains dropped buckets, which gave rise to a plethora of large frogs that were the driving force behind Nicole’s several butt bruising spills along our decent. A wet bus ride and 3 hours later we made it home. This benchmark hike taught us that while in Korea you will notice that even though they sometimes just want to look the part by wearing all the gear, Korean’s are always prepared.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in South Korea?
- Embrace the opportunity….many people only get to dream about what you are about to do. Enjoy the good, and cherish the lessons learned from the “not-so-good”.
- Be flexible. Life outside our home country is not without its compromises and that means adjusting out expectations accordingly. It gets easier and easier as you go along.
- 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.
How is the expat community in South Korea? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
You will find a multitude of ways to integrate into the expat community in your city and town. Most larger cities have organizations that put on events all the time. If you are working with other foreigners there is a good chance they have formed a small community as well. Lots of towns have “hot spots” for foreigners, usually in the form of a bar that are great ways to meet some new friends that are more than likely there doing something very similar to you so ice breakers are no biggy ;)
How would you summarize your expat life in South Korea in a single, catchy sentence?
You’ll learn to bow like a pro, sweat while you eat, embrace culture, and become a millionaire (in won) all before the sun rises in the land of the morning calm.