Being Adaptable in Korea

Being Adaptable in Korea

An arrangement of foods and items set on a table for Taiwanese BBQ.

Being adaptable in Korea is essential. When I first moved here, I was really nervous about making new friends. I lived in the smallest state in America, Rhode Island. Moving halfway across the world with just my husband was not only adventurous but nerve racking at the same time.

Tiffany Molyneux in South KoreaAs I shared in my previous posts, the first few months were very challenging in the social arena. But, as the months progressed and my perspective about my new surroundings changed, I’ve been able to build a solid community of friends.

One of the things I wish I truly understood before leaving the states was how to be adaptable in a foreign land. I was aware of the concept, however living it out was very strenuous mentally, emotionally and physically.


I believe what made the beginning of my stay in Korea so difficult was my constant comparisons between the land I once called home and the foreign land in which I was living.

I was not satisfied with my present. I expected Korea to be the same way it was for me in the States. I had unrealistic expectations of the people I was meeting. I longed for authenticity. I absolutely hated having surface level conversations about work and students, especially on the weekend. I longed to have an identity outside of just being a teacher.

What I failed to realize at the time was authentic relationships are built over time, not right away. You see, I’ve come from an environment where my friends were like my sisters. Moving to Korea pushed me out of my comfort zone because I had to make an obvious effort to meet new people and build with them steadily.

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Making Changes

As a foreigner, it’s important to find a pace that works for you and stick with it. I cannot really pinpoint what exactly made me change my outlook about my new environment. I know, distinctively, it was a series of events and an introspective look at questioning my thoughts and actions.

I learned in order to have genuine relationships I first had to be true to myself. In other words, to have truth I had to seek it from within. My reality wasn’t real to me because I kept on comparing it to a place I once lived in and experienced.

I was depriving my present by being lost in my past. When I would meet people, I was judging them based off of people I’ve met before. If they reminded me of someone negative, I wouldn’t care to learn more about them. I was more dismissive than adaptable and it was that attitude that weighed on me mentally, emotionally and physically.


I end this post with a heart full of appreciation for Korea and all the many lessons it has and will teach me. Living abroad is an amazing opportunity, but the only way to experience it in its fullness is to know and understand the art of adaptability.

It brings me great joy to think back on who I once was nine months ago and who I have become along the way. I have met amazing people from different parts of the world, full of life experiences that completely differ from mine.

The beauty of it all is when you allow relationships to develop at their own pace you will soon find yourself calling people who were once strangers to you, friends.

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Have you made the move to Korea in the past? Are you currently there now? How did you manage with adapting to this new life in a foreign country? Let us know in the comments section below. 

picWillynn taught in the education field for three years. It was her curiosity and interest to see the world from a different perspective that lead her to Daejeon, South Korea. Willynn is currently working with young learners teaching English for EPIK in South Korea. In her free time, Willynn loves to go on adventures with her husband, Micah, engage in language exchanges at coffee shops with the locals in her community. As well as participate at Open Mic events across Daejeon and Seoul sharing her spoken word pieces. Follow Willynn on Youtube  or on WordPress.

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