Life in Korea Through Expats’ Eyes- The Best Advice You Could Ever Receive

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I had so much fun doing this series and sharing what I believe to be some of the most practical (real life) advice for those who are interested in living abroad, teaching overseas, or moving to Korea. Like I said in the beginning, I really wish before we came over to Korea I would have been able to know the answers to some of the tough questions on the topic of finances, loneliness, and the challenges/perks of teaching in Korea. Just to side track for a brief second here- When I first started this blog it was specifically for my family/friends to follow along in our adventures overseas. Even though it’s still used for documenting our travels the blog has become a place where I can let you into places of my heart that I am sharing -with the vision that someone some where in the world may read a post that speaks right to their heart.  A post that shows them that they to can pursue dreams of living abroad, that your job doesn’t have to be stressful, and that life can be easily simplified in the pursuit of happiness.

For the last post I asked all four gals:

If you could give one piece of advice to someone when moving to Korea what would you tell them?

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“Come with an open mind and as few expectations as possible. With an open mind and making the choice to see everything as an adventure ~ you will be in for your best year yet!!!”

You can follow Caitlyn’s journey: here & here

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“If you come willing to try new things you definitely won’t regret it. Every day will be like a new adventure and trying to see things from the perspective of a Korean will make your experience here be that much more enriching. Also it will give you the chance to appreciate the journey you’re taking.”

You can follow Chloé’s journey: here

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“If you make a bunch of plans and have specific expectations, they may not always turn out like you had hoped. Everyone has a different experience here, but I think it all depends on your attitude and your reactions to whatever comes your way. Just be open to new things, trying new things, learning new things, and seeing new things because some of you only will have a year here…why not make the absolute most of your time in this amazing country!”

You can follow Lisa’s journey: here

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“Get out and explore! Think of all the places you can see only in Korea and go to it. You may never have the chance to come here again once you leave!”

You can follow Alison’s journey: here

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…and for me? The best advice I ever received when coming to Korea was: Don’t compare. Don’t compare your life with that of other people. Don’t compare apartments, don’t compare jobs, and don’t compare co-teachers. We all have pretty unique situations and just because it may appear someone else’s job is better than your current situation it doesn’t mean that it’s all that it may appear to be. A Big thank you shout out to Caitlyn, Alison, Lisa, and Chloé for taking the time out of their busy lives to contribute to these posts. I admire each of them for taking the big leap to move abroad!

Check out the other parts to the series by clicking the icons below:

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Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!!

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?