Linda Dunsmore, who blogs at Linda Goes East, never expected to end up in South Korea with a Korean fiancé. She told us all about it in her previous guest post, “Am I in the ‘Wrong’ AMWF Relationship?” How a Woman Who Loved China Fell for a Korean man.
But it’s not always easy to transition to a new country. After all, as Linda writes, “Before I met Jeongsu, the only thing I knew about Korea was that its capital is Seoul. I hadn’t even tried Korean food.” I asked Linda to share some of her tips for a smooth transition to life in South Korea – read on!
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I’ve always been interested in Asia and its different cultures and nations. China had especially caught my eye and I decided to study Mandarin and even move to China – which I did and it was awesome. Then, I went to California to get my bachelor’s degree, with a plan in mind to move back to China – maybe even for good.
However, something, and I like to argue it were higher powers, had completely changed my path. Actually it wasn’t something but much rather someone. While studying in San Diego, I met a handsome Korean exchange student who instantly caught my eye. We quickly started dating and he is now my fiancé.
After graduating, I did, in fact, move back to China, were I stayed for a year in Hunan’s capital of Changsha. I got to travel the country and experience the local culture to a great extent. However, I wasn’t fully happy there. Being in a long distance relationship was hard and after 1 year in China, I decided to make the big move to South Korea.
Before I met Jeongsu, the only thing I knew about Korea was that its capital is Seoul. I hadn’t even tried Korean food. However, all of this quickly changed and is now a big part of my life. I would like to share some of the strategies that helped ease my transition into living in South Korea.
#1: Learn the Language
Soon after I met Jeongsu, I started learning Korean. I’m by far not fluent but the basics help me fit in the daily life here and make it a lot easier to live here. I signed up at the local YMCA and took a Korean course with other foreigners. The good thing was that I met other foreigners – some of which also have Korean partners.
#2: Eat local food
Food is a key part of every culture. It seems like Korea even takes it to a new level, having a certain set of side dishes for every meal. I remember the first time I saw “kimchi” (the most popular Korean side dish) in Jeongsu’s fridge back in San Diego. “I’m never going to eat that!” I screamed because of the foul smell. Now, I love it and eat it with almost every meal.
#3: Do as the Koreans Do
Koreans work a lot, but also take their free time seriously and love hanging out with friends. Drinking, karaoke or even Korean traditional sauna include only few of the dozens of things Korean take on in their free time. You should also be aware of the strict hierarchy here in Korea. When you treat people older than you in a polite way, you’re going to be much more successful living here.
#4: Make local Friends
Obviously, the reason why I moved to Korea was to be with Jeongsu. Having him here helps me a lot since he can support me when I have problems of communication and he explains cultural differences to me. However, even if you move to Korea alone, you should definitely make Korean friends. You’re Korea experience is going to be so much deeper when you have a chance to see how locals really live.
What are you waiting for?
If you are thinking about moving to South Korea, don’t hesitate too long! It’s a wonderful country to fall in love with. I didn’t know a lot about Korea before moving here but now I am astounded by the country’s vast history and culture. Korean BBQ, KPOP, awesome skincare products and loads of themed cafes are waiting for you here!
Linda writes about life in Korea, her AMWF relationship with a Korean man, traveling around Asia and studying Asian languages at www.lindagoeseast.com . She is also very active on social media, especially Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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