Chris: From Korea With Love
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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to South Korea, etc.
Hello, everyone! I'm Chris, an ESL teacher, a housewife, an aspiring writer, a frustrated performing artist, a foodie, and an expat trying to make the most out of life in the "Land of the Morning Calm". I'm from the Philippines. I moved to Korea in 2010, after my Korean husband and I got married. I have been in SK five years ago, and didn't adjust well to Korean life back then... but now, my perspectives of Korea, its culture, its people and life, in general, have entirely changed... and I have so much of my experiences here that I would like to share with you.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Every day in Korea is like living an adventure, especially if you are married to a Korean who is not "like other Koreans" and you live with the "in-laws". There are so many stories worth telling about the life of a housewife and daughter-in-law in Korea. Also, dealing with different types of learners in the hagwon (academy) and daily encounters with strangers in Korea offer tons of interesting anecdotes. I have started my official blog page a few months ago. I enjoy blogging and reaching out to the readers through my writing.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
- Some Korean Food That You (Probably) Can’t Stomach
- What Every Pinay Daughter-in-Law Must Consider
- Korea’s Pali-Pali Culture and Its Dynamism
- Don’t Mess With Ajumma
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?
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. I "still" experience culture shock... but not as much as before. (I just laugh them off most of the time). When you're a foreigner in Korea, you will never run out things that amaze you.
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?
Honestly, when I came to Korea, I was confident thinking that I was fully prepared for what awaited me here, because I've been to Korea when I was single, and the experience wasn't so bad (though it was boring living in a small town). I thought I knew a lot about Korean culture and life in Korea, because my husband and I have known each other for nearly seven years before we got married, and he used to lecture me about Korea and its ways. My first few weeks in SK were exciting and I thought they would be "that exciting" in the days to come... but as time went on, I found out that I had so much to learn and the things I knew about the country were not enough to help me survive. I had to be more independent, open-minded and change some of my Filipino thinking and ways to adjust to my new life in Korea. I'm telling you, it wasn't easy, but hey, I survived!
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I have A LOT of hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences like getting lost in a big city all by myself just to realize later on that I have passed by the train station I was looking for a couple of times, slipping on an icy road and landing on my butt (with so many people to witness it... but not even one offered to help... grrr!), being told by an old woman to get off the elevator because the elevator in the subway is only for senior citizens, pregnant women and the physically disadvantaged, being asked for directions and when I answered in English, the person left me like I just told him I was a killer.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in South Korea?
- Learn Korean. (Not all Koreans can speak English.)
- Accept and respect Korean culture... no matter how strange some may seem. You don't have to act like them, talk like them or be like them... but as they say, "go with the flow".
- Find something you will enjoy doing here besides teaching in a hagwon (if you're working in SK) or despite your busy life as a housewife. Expats who have an active life in SK are happier. There are many organizations for expats in Korea and I'm sure that you can find one that suits your interest and lifestyle.
How is the expat community in South Korea? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community in Korea is quite active and vast. You can find expat organizations in almost every city in Korea. Sometimes, members of these expat organizations gather to explore beautiful places in Korea, learn Korean cooking and traditional dances and games, go out to drink and chat, etc.
How would you summarize your expat life in South Korea in a single, catchy sentence?
The day to day adventures and misadventures of a not-so-typical Filipina and her Korean husband in Kimchi-wonderland...