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Valerie: Far Away Hammer Writing

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.

My name is Val Hamer and I’m a Brit who has lived in Asia since 2000. I spent seven years in Tokyo before moving to South Korea in 2007. I wanted to experience more of the country than Seoul, so after a year there I moved on. So far I have lived in Gyeonggi-do, Busan and Chungnam.

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

I added a blog section to my website in 2011, largely as a way to share some resources, funny stories and opinions on life as a nomad/alien.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

I am particularly fond of the post about Costco. I think it captures the essence of just one crazy day in my life: The Quest For Bread.

Another good one was written to promote the paper version of my first book: Blind date expose: now available in paper form

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?

To be honest I felt more culture shock between life in Japan and Korea than between Asia and the UK. Everything felt so opposite, and it took me a long time to adjust.

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?

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.

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

I asked a Korean friend what the word for dog was in Hanguel and misheard her response. Picture me calling every pooch I met a duck!

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

  • Take out supplementary insurance to avoid shortfalls in the national health provision.
  • Get used to a lack of personal space: it isn’t personal!
  • Pack wisely. Underwear, socks and shoes are hard to find for many people.

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

I was incredibly lucky to meet a couple of great people in the first two weekends here. I had been quite proactive in my research and networking before I arrived, so was able to plug into a pub social via MeetInSeoul, and a clothes swap via Dave’s ESL Café forums. Sadly the former is defunct and the latter pretty inactive (in terms of event organizing) these days.

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

The tree that happily bends with the wind saves energy for the things that really matter.

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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