Feeling “Normal” Abroad: My One Month Update

Even 7,000 miles away from home, McDonald’s fries taste like McDonald’s fries. And that’s comforting.

I have officially been in Korea for a month and, honestly, it’s a little difficult feeling normal while living abroad.

I don’t speak Korean, although I am making a serious effort to teach myself how to read and write hangeul, which is paying off so far.

It is awkward (and almost always uncomfortable) going into businesses and trying to get what you want through broken phrases and pantomime. Sometimes it works. However, sometimes you and the person you’re trying to communicate with stare at each other while you fervently flail your hands around, distressed.

Sometimes, you get stopped on the street by Jesus freaks. They are persistent. Although, occasionally they have free coffee or tea.

Additionally, while I love Korean food, sometimes I crave salads. And sandwiches. And dinner plates featuring a meat, a vegetable, and a potato. I have found that these things are nearly impossible to find, but when you find one of them (only referring to the salad and sandwich), you buy it and eat it gleefully.

Alternative culture is also pretty nonexistent in Korea. However, it is incredibly important to me. I love heavy metal, goth clubs, and Renaissance Faires. And sometimes, I will sit in my apartment while blasting Metallica and consequently start bawling my eyes out because I desperately miss my whacky haunts from home.

I also desperately miss my friends. I have made very few female friends since coming here and it’s been hard. I’ve met some girls in passing, but I’m just finding it really difficult to reach out. It feels like high school all over again and it sucks. I just really want to explore all these awesome beauty shops, and get manicures, and go for coffee with someone. I love me some “me” time, but I’m honestly getting kind of sick of it.

Overall, though, I really am enjoying my time here. I like my job and my apartment. I feel like I’m making a difference through working with kids. I like having the freedom to explore and try new things. I also like that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to go out and have a good time here. Life is good right now.

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10 thoughts on “Feeling “Normal” Abroad: My One Month Update

  1. Laura says:

    Ah, yes – I’m also struggling to make new friends as an expat in the UK. To make things more difficult – I am still looking for a job, so I don’t really have much chances for new friends. Girls in my kickboxing class are way too different to find common grounds (kickboxing is not my passion, it’s just something I enjoy doing), while yoga class is the most silent place on earth 😀 I can only hope things change when I find that dream job of mine! I guess for you it also might be a culture barrier to make new friends over there! Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LifesBelle says:

    Hang in there. I did 13 months over there. The first three months were the hardest. See if you can find the local YMCA, they used to do free Korean immersion classes on a Saturday. Get yourself a translate app for your ph, will save you heaps of hand waving time. When in shops you just have to know the name of the thing you want (enter translation app) and add jeuseao (phonetically spelt there). Loosely translated its give me please. So if you want a coffee it (again phonetically spelt) it would be cappe jeuseao. If you want to ask if they have it just make the end eao go up in pitch and it’s now do you have.

    The loneliness doesnt go away, well it didn’t for me, being in a foreign country is hard. Dont be hard on yourself have a good cry. Homesickness sucks. I remember the effort it took just to go to the local store, so exhausting. Koreans were gracious and helpful. I only encountered a little racism from some uni students.
    Take lots of photos and talk to everyone, you’ll find others there like u 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      • LifesBelle says:

        More than happy to share 😀 I lived in Cheong Ju. The ‘smaller’ city in the center of the south next to Chung Ju. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but one of the best, met some amazing people and had so many unreal experiences. 😀 for the first few months I carried around a piece of paper with key words in English then Hangul as my quick guide helped cut the hand waving down.

        I taught at a kindergarten -middle school hagwan. In the first few months before I met my group of friends I would put my music on and headphones and go walking around the city, it was like watching a travel show with awesome tunes. Helped me cope with the culture shock.

        There are so many crazy things to experience there!! You’re going to have a blast.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s been so interesting so far and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds! It’s good to remove yourself from your comfort zone sometimes 😀

        Like

  3. I love how brutally honest you are about your experiences! I think that’s what makes your posts so interesting! I just found out today that I will be in Korea November 16, so I am very excited to start my journey and know that there are other people that have gone through the process of teaching in Korea. You’re doing a big thing going out of your comfort zone, but that’s what makes us stronger and more interesting 🙂 If anything, you will have plenty of stories and experiences to share! Keep on sharing, I’ll keep on reading. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thank you so much! I really appreciate that! I want to use this space to record my experiences as truthfully as possible, and I just love writing. Thanks for reading 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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