How to survive your first week of living and working in Korea?
South Korea is unarguably one of THE best places to teach English. Along with a good salary, Korea also offers some awesome benefits. For example: free housing, contract completion bonus, healthcare, pension benefits and airfare reimbursement.
A lot of recent college graduates are also attracted to Korea because unlike other countries Korea takes first-time teachers. This does not mean that life in Korea is a ‘bed of roses ‘. However, neither is it a ‘nightmare’ regardless of all the horror stories floating around the net.
True, living in Korea is challenging. Even the seasoned travelers confess that it can be one of the hardest cultures to adapt to. It is especially hard for the newly arrived foreigners. Adjusting to a new environment can be taxing at first. You’re bound to miss your family, friends, food and culture especially when you’re away for an extended period of time.
Living and working in Korea, takes some getting used to. The first few weeks are especially crucial. These tips can help you successfully survive your first week in Korea.
Be Open Minded
First and foremost, you have to have an unbiased attitude. Remember, that how you see the world is not how everyone else sees the world. Every culture is unique and it is very easy to judge another culture, customs and compare them to what you are used to.
Embrace the differences. Try to appreciate and understand other customs. You have to be flexible. Be aware that you will be an oddity. People will be curious about you. People will stare at you, ask you questions and even want to touch your face or hair etc.
This is very common. However, you should realize it’s just curiosity and nothing personal. Some people take offense. It is normal to feel irritated, upset or even angry but it’s very important to have a positive mindset. Being open minded and compassionate to other cultures can help reduce the negative emotions.
Our experiences are based on how we interpret and perceive various encounters. So be positive and it can be an extraordinary learning experience for you.
Break The Language Barrier
If you plan to live in Korea long term, learning the language is a MUST. Speaking the language not only helps you connect with the locals but also provide the necessary tools needed to survive in the country. Knowing the language opens the window to a better understanding of the culture. Additionally, it is essential for your day to day life.
Make new friends. Meet some locals. Most people are friendly and warm towards foreigners. Having Korean friends will help you see Korea in a different light. You can learn about Korean culture. Asking your Korean friends questions to understand the reasoning behind certain customs can help you appreciate the culture more.
Try New Things
Culture shock affects all of us no matter how tolerant or well informed we are. Prepare yourself for doing things differently than what you are used to. Be spontaneous. Try new things! Try new food! The customs, the food….. EVERYTHING… in Korea maybe unfamiliar. But don’t let that stop you.
Enjoy the element of surprise. Embrace the cultural diversity. Be open to new ideas. You might surprise yourself. Stepping out of your comfort zone will open your eyes in ways that you never imagine.
If you can effectively survive your first week of living and working in Korea, then the rest of your stay in Korea will be a fun-filled rewarding experience.
The cultural diversity and language differences can make adapting the Korean lifestyle challenging but not impossible. It requires patience, understanding and time. Accept the difference. Learn to enjoy the dissimilarities. Explore the unknown and have fun while doing it!