I have now been an expatriate living in South Korea for just over 4 months and there are certain things that I have come to realise about this kind of lifestyle. I have gotten use to not having things that I would never have questioned not having back home, and to having things that I would normally find totally bizarre. It’s what living in a different country is all about, so I thought I’d put together a little list for anyone who is planning on making this move. Feel free to add any others you can think of to the comments section below...
1. ‘Come round for dinner - bring your own cutlery!'
So, you’re feeling like a lovely little night in with good friends, a couple bottles of wine and some glorious food. You decide to cook for everyone and spend 5 hours slaving away over your one stove, and when you finally get to the serving you suddenly realise; you only have 1 knife, 1 fork and 1 set of mental chopsticks. Bring your own cutlery folks...I’m living for one! DAMMIT!
2. ‘The blankets aren’t mine!’
3.’What’s your name again?’
4. ‘Why is this towel the size of a wash cloth?’
Towels that fit your entire body! Bring these from home folks...its pretty impossible to find full length towels here and don’t be fooled by the label. Full length in Korea means for someone the size of a small Cat. Where did all the wool go?
5. ‘Sorry, what do I do with the toilet paper?!’
JUST FLUSH IT! In your apartment, just flush it! If you only use small amounts of toilet paper then its fine. Do not use anything more than a few sheets though as it will block your toilet, and you will be plunging for several days after. Most of the locals don’t flush it, and I have seen some horrors in bathroom toilets that I'd rather not remember.
6. ‘Who do I live with? Oh its just me and a couple of hundred fruit flies!’
Fruit flies! Is there anyway to get rid of them...yes. But they will come back so in the summer months its really something that you have to live with. I’ve started naming mine...Eric is sitting on my laptop watching me type as we speak... Hey Eric!
7. ‘Lets go out for dinner...for the 7th time this week!'
8. ‘Why can’t I use the computer...is it the 90's again?!’
Okay it’s not that bad but if like me, you’re a regular user of internet banking and such things then be prepared! Everything is (obviously) in Korean. Its also hard to navigate around online shopping sites because half the time you don’t actually know your address. The computer at work is also completely in Korean so its hard to remember what button ‘Save’ is in a word document. Obviously at one point or another I will get my full address written down, and I will eventually learn Korean but for now...where’s the print button?!
9. ‘I have one day off in September...lets go to Japan!’
10. ‘Lets go have a drink at the 7 Eleven!’
GS, 7 Eleven, Mini Stop. The convenience stores in Korea are EVERYWHERE! But unlike at home, every one of them has a little seating area out the front where you can sit and legally drink. Its like the cheapest bar ever! You will normally spend most of your expat life outside of one of these. What’s not to love? Bottle of cider and a bag of crisps for less than a pound! Sold!
So there you have it folks, just 11 of the things you’ll usually hear from an expat. With an endless amount of new experiences to be had, I’m 100% sure that this list can only grow. So until then...