South Korea Through Expats’ Eyes- Loneliness Abroad

korea oneLiving overseas is one wild experience! An experience that time and time again I continually have to pinch myself to make sure that this is real. Then there are those days where I feel like the completely awkward foreigner who just misses silly things like eavesdropping in on conversations and being able to carry a conversation effortlessly. Although (for Tom and I life is absolutely amazing 99.9% of the time here) there are definitely sacrifices we have had to make while living in Korea. For example, since last April we have missed eight weddings, holiday gatherings, graduations, and too many birthday celebrations to count. I’ve missed seeing my sisters grow inches & shoe sizes, their sports, and their school events.

Loneliness is a real thing while living abroad.

So today, we are chatting about just that- loneliness. It’s a concern that I believe can hold people back from taking the plunge to come live abroad. Today, I bring you Chloé, Lisa, Alison, and Caitlyn to give you their two cents on loneliness while living abroad (two of the gals came to Korea alone while the other two came with their significant others!)

 

How do you deal with loneliness?

photo (10)The best way to deal with loneliness is to surround yourself with people. It really helps to familiarize yourself with the community of foreigners, or even to try and socialize with the other teachers at your school (even if they don’t speak English – I have KonGlish conversations ALL the time), because then you always have that security blanket of people you can fall back on. I haven’t felt as lonely as I thought I would, and that is in great part because I actually have Caley (another teacher, who lives an apartment building away from me and teaches at the school across the street from mine). Making friends is really the best way to keep the loneliness away because these are people that you can spend the year with and discover Korea with. If all else fails, skype is always a great pick me up when you need to talk to your family and friends.

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What do you do to make Korea feel more like home?

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 The first thing I did in the first few weeks I was here was try to make my apartment feel like home. I knew that I wanted my apartment to be a place I could come home to and feel comfortable in. I had brought lots a pictures from home, so I bought a bunch of cheap frames from Daiso (Korea’s amazing dollar store) and hung pictures up all over. I also got some cute bedding and a few other household things/decorations to make my apartment my own. Another thing that makes me feel at home is baking. I found a decent oven for around $80, and I absolutely love it. Even though we all come here to experience a new culture, I think it’s important to also do things to remember home and the things we loved about where we’re from.

 

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We brought some pictures and decorations from home to make it cozy right away. During the first few weeks, it was nice to look at our walls and see pictures of our family and friends. I also frequently stay in touch with people from back home. There are so many ways for me to communicate: FaceTime, iMessage, Skype, KakaoTalk, email, blog comments, Facebook, etc. It makes me feel so much closer to the people I love who aren’t here with me.

 

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Around the holidays when homesickness is likely to set in…what do you do to ease the loneliness?

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I can’t imagine having come to Korea alone, so it’s difficult to speak for most single foreigners living here, as for me (being married) homesickness hasn’t been much of a thing. I can say though that I know Christmas will be tough this year, but to avoid feeling down and homesick, we have organised a big Christmas eve party at a local coffee shop which we have rented out for the evening, so we’ll be spending the evening with 30 special friends.Christmas morning will be our time, for prezzies and time with Jesus and then the afternoon will be spent at home with 4 of our best friends sharing a meal and some laughs I’m sure too. I know I will get tearful on Christmas day, but if anything it only makes me more appreciative for the amazing family I have back home and if one thing is for sure, you truly do learn to be grateful for the small things in life, like friends on Christmas day to help fill the family void inside of us.

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Friday will be the last post in this series. The gals will give pieces of advice for those who plan to move abroad or move to Korea!  What about you? If you’re far away from home how do you deal with living away from loved ones? What do you do to ease the loneliness?

 

If you’re just joining us for the series click the highlighted words below to catch up:

Day 1- Why Korea? Why did these lovely ladies choose to move abroad to Korea?

Day 2- Teaching in Korea. The ins and outs of what it means to be a public school teacher in Korea.

Day 3- Finances in Korea. What do our finances look like as an expat teaching in Korea.

Day 4- Life Outside of Work. What is life like outside of teaching? How do they spend their weekends?