Expat Stories, South Korea

Expat Story: South Korea

Expat Stories, Chino House

Today’s expat story is from Taleen who lives in South Korea!

Expat Stories, South Korea

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am 28 years old and originally from Iowa.  I currently live in South Korea and am teaching English at a rural academic high school of about 450 students.  My academic history is a bit complicated but ultimately I want to be a math teacher.  I came to Korea so that I could get experience teaching in an environment that challenges me and so that I could learn what it feels like to not look like everyone around me.

What is something about living abroad that is difficult that you did not anticipate?

The biggest surprise for me about living abroad was having to adapt to other expats.  There are many foreign teachers in Korea from many places and not all come with the motivation and goal to teach students.  It’s difficult for me to see other foreigners behave or speak in ways towards Korean people that I don’t agree with, especially when I know that they are in turn being treated really well by the Korean government and people.

What new tradition or habit do you want to take away from living abroad?

The food!  Not just the dishes themselves but the style of eating.  Korean dining is always communal, meaning everyone shares off of everyone else’s plates.  Even at American chain restaurants Koreans will order multiple different dishes and share everything.  I always really like the sharing because it just feels so cozy and friendly.  I can’t see myself doing it all of the time when I get home (I still haven’t completely gotten used to sharing fries…) but I want to do it every once in a while.

Expat Stories, South Korea

If a friend came to visit you in your city abroad for one day, what would you take them to see?

I would definitely take a friend to see the countryside.  The mountains around my town are really beautiful, especially in the fall when the leaves change color.  There is also a gorgeous rose path walk right next to the river that is both pretty and peaceful.

What advice would you give to someone who is hoping to live abroad one day?

I would recommend trying to integrate your “foreign life” and your “native life”.  This is sometimes easier said than done but I think that the transitions between the two (trips back home, having friends and family visit, getting news from back home, etc.) aren’t quite as culturally shocking if you just try to think of them as your life, all together.  It makes for much less stressful living, in any case.

Thanks so much, Taleen, for sharing your Expat Story with us!

You can follow Taleen’s adventures on her blog.

Do you have any questions for Taleen?  Leave them in the comments.

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