15 Things I Have Learned From Living In South Korea

1. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
2. Kids are kids anywhere in the world and I love them for that.
3. You can still show your personality even if you don’t speak the same language by using a simple smile, gestures, helping, bringing gifts, laughing, and simply being yourself.
4. Accept your differences, respect your differences, but also learn from your differences. Understand what makes you special and what makes them special.
5. Adopt new traditions and be accepting to new things whether that is food, holidays or mannerisms.
6. Don’t be afraid to explore new areas even if you go alone.
7. Beauty is defined differently around the world and there is no set definition.
8. Be adaptable and flexible. Korean surprise is no joke. I never expect the day to go exactly as I planned and I now don’t freak out when a Korean Surprise happens because they happen so frequently. I often come into school and surprise you have no classes for the next two days…or surprise we are hiking for the day but you wore a skirt and tights. Oops. or surprise I need a document finished in 4 minutes and then you need to teach 2 classes you haven’t prepared for. It happens so often that I don’t even allow myself to get worked up anymore although at times it still catches me off guard.
9. Accept that it’s just downright hard to show humor when there’s a language gap. It can be frustrating because it’s very hard to show sarcasm or jokes when neither of you are fluent in the language. There are many times I have felt very awkward after making a joke and the other person takes the joke seriously and then I have to explain it was a joke and then they don’t know the word joke…and it’s just a downwards spiral haha
10. Don’t become a hermet. Find things that interest you whether its hiking, working out, reading, language exchanges, hanging out with friends. Whatever it may be, allow yourself to enjoy those things and make a routine for yourself. Even if it’s uncomfortable at first it can be rewarding and nothing is more important than taking care of yourself and being the best version of you.
11. Some days are harder than others. There are highs and lows just like anywhere in the world and just like every person has. It’s okay. It’s going to be okay.
12. All Koreans are pretty much in a relationship…and this is no exaggeration. They don’t understand the dating world that Americans do where you test the waters and maybeee it will turn into something…nope they don’t have that. You just dive right in. They are also super lovey dovey which is adorable and sickening at the same time for all of us single people. Every couple I see I am like THEY ARE SO CUTE IM JEALOUS. When I say I am single I get the most shocking faces and “oh my god WHY! Aren’t you lonely?!!! That’s so sad!” and I always answer I have no idea… haha do they really want to hear my long explanation…”I haven’t found the right guy…I am very independent…I just moved to Korea like three months ago…that’d be shocking if I found someone that quick…ummm I like Korean men but the langauge barrier is toughhhhh” haha it’s pretty comical. If I say no they often say “Do you have American boyfriend?” Nope… “Do you have Korean boyfriend?” Nope… “what! Why?!?!?! So lonely!!!!!!!”
13. If you find USA gyms intimidating especially in the weight room area…try going to a Korean gym and being the only foreigner. Terrifying. And I have been going there for a month and a half now. Everyone is so nice but I still get so nervous. Especially now that I have ventured to the weights area for some bootcamp stuff. The treadmill only does so much. I have now made some guy friends there which is really nice. I even have made myself a personal trainer friend who has been ever so kindly helping me get in shape for free. I am so sore everyday but it feels great and it’s really nice to have a routine after work.
14. Missing family can be hard but I have found that with apps such as Whatsapp I can have a group conversation with all my fam and constantly stay connected. It’s an amazing tool and makes it much more easy to stay ontop of each other’s lives. And honestly people live all over the world at different times of their lives. Enjoy where you are at at the moment, just don’t forget who supported and helped you get there in the first place.
15. Life will never be perfect wherever you are. There are ups and downs no matter what. There are days where you just want to sleep…and there are days where you have so much joy that you don’t think your heart can handle it. We all live for the joy that comes every so often and embrace it as much as we can.
Through it all…I am so happy where I am at right now. I love my job. I love my students and I love this country. I am embracing the adventures and the language. I am proud to say I can now say basic sentences in Korean and hold a very simple Korean conversation. Little by little we grow without even realizing it. It’s an exciting time.
Love,
Caroline Teacher

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