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Tania: Small and Tall Travel

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in South Korea makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to South Korea, etc.

Hi there. My name is Tania and I’m a Welsh girl that’s been living and teaching in lovely Korea for almost two years.  I live here and run the blog with my boyfriend Lee, who I’ve been bugging since we were 7 years old.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

Before coming to Korea travel blogs gave me such a wealth of information. It also struck me that blogging would be the perfect souvenir of our travels. I already look back on early posts and know I would have forgotten the nuances, or even the whole thing (I have the mind of a sieve) if I hadn’t written it down. Also my mum likes to read it…hi mum!

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

I was a ‘blogspot’ girl for the first year and a half in Korea but we have recently gone all fancy and .com with our impending world tour approaching. The site’s been up for about 5 months so the content is just starting to grow but here is a selection of posts I’ve enjoyed writing so far:

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?

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 tried my best to research as much as possible before arriving and I think that really helped me but even with all that research I was baffled.

Korea takes everything you think you know about the world, shakes it up a little, and sticks a giant pink bow on it.

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?

As I mentioned, I lived on travel blogs before I arrived. I read every single page I could find that told me about Korean culture and people’s personal experiences. This really did help me when I arrived but even with all that knowledge I was probably only about two weeks ahead of the game. After that it was just a case of learn while you go. It’s been tough at times but I’ve loved every second.

If someone is coming to Korea and you happen to be British, BRING CHOCOLATE (yes I am shouting that. The caps lock is not stuck) Lee would kill a man, or at least slap him a little for some British Cadburys. Other than that most things are available. If you can learn to use you will be sorted since everything and anything seems to be available.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

There are too many to write here. Getting stuck up a mountain with no idea how we would get down springs to mind. Accidently losing all our money in Bangkok, Lee being made to sing without music or any warning in front of 50 Koreans he’d just met…or maybe dancing like no one’s watching with my friends only to find out someone was watching and it happened to be my boss.  Too many stories!

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in South Korea?

  • Read every blog you can find. I was much better prepared for the challenges I’d face and I enjoyed the nuances of Korean culture because I was ready for them.
  • Write a blog. It doesn’t have to be fancy or anything more than just a few lines now and again, but write it for you. It will be the best souvenir you could ask for in years to come and it will force you out of your apartment and onto the scary streets knowing you will have something to write about. Plus take a million pictures! They are my most treasured possessions. Each photo is definitely worth a million not just a thousand words.
  • If you are a bloke over 6 foot tall bring everything you will need to wear while you are here. Shoes, t-shirts, trousers…even socks are hard for Lee to find.

How is the expat community in South Korea? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

My biggest shock with traveling and living abroad has been the incredible friends I’ve made. Lee and I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of the people we have met. On those hard days where culture shock does take hold those friends are the people that make living in a foreign country a little more familiar. I didn’t expect to leave here with a friend I’d have for a lifetime but I think we are leaving with about 10 of them. Plus it means we now have lots of friends we just ‘have’ to visit all around the world.  Travel definitely breeds travel.

How would you summarize your expat life in South Korea in a single, catchy sentence?

Warning - excessive dancing, laughing and confusion may be present. 

Vladimir Rostev

"InterNations not only helped me finding great business contacts but it moreover helped my family to quickly settle in."

Mia Lindberg

"Getting to know other Scandinavian women was so easy with InterNations. We quickly got connected and became friends."

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