Tuesday, 14 July 2015

11 Things You’ll Only Ever Hear From An Expat...

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!’

 When you first arrive in Korea its unlikely that you’re going to have brand new bedding that’s never been used before, and if people come to stay then you’re probably not going to have new bedding for them either. An extra set for the small amount of visitors you may have, is an expense you probably won’t invest in...or is this just me?! When you do finally buy bedding for yourself, it won’t be pretty. If you want something plain, forget it. You’ll either be searching for hours or spending over the odds for bedding that doesn’t even fit. Someone tell me where all the fitted sheets have gone?!

3.’What’s your name again?’

You meet a lot of people here and I don’t know about anyone else, but I am constantly forgetting not only their names but if i’ve even met them in the first place. Especially with names like ‘Kim’ and ‘Jong-un’ ...its difficult ay! Awks!

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!'

Sure! Why not? Its cheap and I can pretty much afford anything here. Not having to worry about money is something that only few people experience back home in London. I don’t pay any rent and most things are half the price (if not more) than back home. It really is amazing! 

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!’

If you’re lucky you will have 10 days off a year plus the bank holidays. However a lot of people get even less than this, so you tend to make the most of your vacation days when you do get them. You’ll even try to fill your weekends up with trips around the country. Although sometimes the constant flow of alcohol and good times will entice you to stay.

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!  

11. ‘YES!’

You’ll start saying yes to EVERYTHING! At first its the only way to survive! Meeting new people is extremely important for life as an expat so unless you want to become a recluse, then this is something that you will need to do. After all, you are potentially only here for a year or two, and so if you want to get the most out of everything then you'll just have to say it! YES...it works for me!

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...

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