This is a new section that may be timely to many people. For those of you who know me, you know that moving to South Korea is a goal of mine. In light of what many are saying about recent events worldwide, a number of people who know about Korean language and culture are more actively seeking to move to South Korea as well. But what information should you know before you move to Korea? What things will you need to take with you? What can you buy now that will make your life easier? These are all questions that you will need to answer before you go to Korea. So in this section, we will review some topics and issues that may make your move to the Republic of Korea smoother.
Why Visit Korea Before Moving There?
There are a number of stories of people who finish college and go to Korea to teach English, all without visiting the country first. Many of these people have the time of their lives, with some staying in Korea for decades after they arrive. But others have such a hard time that they don’t finish out their teaching contract and will have trouble returning to Korea for work in the future. Why do some people get to Korea and decide that they cannot handle it? The biggest reason is that many people do not go to Korea to see how life is there before they move from halfway across the world. Had they visited Korea, they probably would not have moved there in the first place.
How Korea Can Be Different
Depending on where you come from, and depending on where you are moving to, Korean life can be the total opposite of what you are used to. For instance, some who lived in a small city cannot handle living in a city like Seoul. Some people who have a fear of germs do not deal well with having to ride a bus or subway everywhere they go. Some people who do love being in a big city have trouble living in the Korean countryside. Some that are used to being in a house with a dryer have trouble living in a small apartment with a shower above the toilet and having to hang dry their clothes. These challenges, along with the culture shock of being in Asia, can cause some to emotionally break down. Visiting Korea before moving will allow one to see how they can handle a change in living arrangements and a change in how their daily life operates.
If you are not familiar with Korean food, moving to Korea can be quiet a change to what you are used to. For example, instead of eating meat and potatoes, you will need to get used to meat and rice. Kimchi will be staple of your diet as well. Grilling your own meat at your table may not be something you are comfortable doing for a while. If you are close to Busan, seafood and spicy food may become a regular part of your diet. Even for people who are familiar with Korean food, eating in Korea can be a shock. For instance, many Americans are not used to eating corn on their pizza. (Yes, I did have to eat pizza with corn on it.) Certain dishes that are cooked on way in your area, may be cooked differently in Korea. You may see bulgogi burgers, radish with your fried chicken, more tofu than you would like and and meat that you may feel is under cooked, just to name a few things you would need to get used to.
Bathrooms in Korea can also be totally different than what you are used to, especially if you are coming from North America. Besides the shower issue in some apartments, public bathrooms are different that what one may expect. Consider, some bathrooms have toilet paper on the outside of the stall. You are expected to take what you think you’ll need into the stall with you. Some areas have squatter toilets, which are laying horizontally against the floor. Some areas have older plumbing, so you are not supposed to flush toilet paper down the drain. You are supposed to put your used toilet paper in a container in the corner of the stall. If that wasn’t strange enough for you, some bathrooms do not have soap for washing your hands. People just rinse them off with water when they are done. Even at some rest areas, there are no soap in the bathrooms. If you are a person who is very aware of germs, this would be a big problem for you.
The truth is that while South Korea is a wonderful place, it’s not for everyone. For some people, moving to South Korea will cause more problems that it will solve. The only way to be sure about your decision is to visit the country and see how things are for yourself. If you can handle the changes you will have to adapt to, then you will have a comfortable home in Korea. If you cannot adapt, or don’t want to adapt, then you wouldn’t have quit your job and sold your possessions for a job that you will not last at. Visiting Korea before you move can save you a lot of time, heartache and trouble, making your life and decision a lot easier.