Falling Back In Love With Korea

My obsession with blogs about living in Korea hit an all-time high the month before making the move myself. I scoured the Teacher Blogs tabs here on Reach To Teach and daily checked every single one of them for updates. What I found at times was a bit disheartening. Many expats had a blog post dedicated to a subject I was convinced I’d never come face to face with: life in Korea can become dull.

South Korea Grunge FlagShocked, I convinced myself as best as I could that it was the fault of the expat and not Korea that life had become stagnant. I promised myself that when I moved abroad, I’d never have to write a “There’s Nothing To Report Today” post because my life had become so predictable. They had fallen out of love with the new culture they were immersed in because the boring day-to-day stuff had gotten the better of them.

Of course, I was wrong , and I too fell into the same predicament. Life in Korea became ordinary to me after a few months. I woke up at the same time every day, saw the same teachers and students every day, and went home after work to write for my blog every day. I fell into an easy, boring routine, and at the same time fell out of love with Korea. I needed to make a plan to rekindle my relationship with my current country, so I sat down to write a list to help me – and hopefully help you as I share it with you.

Once the sparkles from your eyes begin to dull and you realize that life has become as mundane now as it was back home, you’ll need to do something to get you out of that slump. Make a plan as soon as you can for things you’ll do when your 9-5 job, weekly trips to the grocery store, and Wednesday night bowling at the local alley become so boring you’ll want to rip your hair out. This is the list of things I scribbled out for myself. Feel free to take any that you think might help you put that pep back into your step when life gets dull in Korea!

1. Go alone to a place you’ve never been

Exploring places, events, and foods with friends can be a great bonding experience, but at times it can also really blur your vision, distracting you from the beauty that surrounds you. Often it’s easy to want to chat with friends about things that are relevant in your lives while you’re exploring. “Omg, how was your date last weekend?” “So, let me tell you what one of my students shoved up his nose yesterday!” “Let’s get pizza for dinner.” Those aren’t exactly the conversations you need to be having when you’re trying to fall back in love with the country you’re living in.

Going to a place alone allows me to experience everything with a clear mind. I’m able to pay attention to small details that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and it’s even allowed me to have an experience that I wouldn’t have had were I with a partner. I know it can seem strange or scary, but I promise it can be so much fun! Oh, and remember to turn off your phone as well. The idea is to connect to the experience around you, not tweet about what you’re doing every 5 minutes.

2. Learn about an entirely new culture in Korea

Maybe you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or even a tad bored with taking in Korean culture all day. What better way to refresh yourself than to learn about a different culture while in Korea! In Seoul there are many small villages where people from other countries have come together and have built a life familiar to them. You can see little colored villas in Korea’s French Village, practice your Japanese in Little Tokyo, or even attend a Sunday church service in Little Manilla. There are many cultural villages that have sprung up in Korea which welcome foreigners to come learn about their unique cultures.

3. Explore something “controversial” in Korea

No matter which country you are in, there are always residents who push the boundaries of the societal norm and shock the public. Whether it’s high heels made out of human hair in Taiwan or the “Cannibalistic” restaurant in Japan where people pretend to eat out of a human body, there is never a shortage of eccentric people in this world.

Find out what form of entertainment is the latest controversy in Korea and go explore it! At the moment, the latest buzz is surrounding a restaurant in Pocheon which is phallic-themed. Everything in the restaurant – minus the food – is penis shaped. Strange, but true.

4. Start a new hobby

I’m ecstatic I began trying new things abroad because it’s enable me to learn more about myself and has boosted my self esteem to no end. I suppose something about moving abroad forced me to learn to be patient and open minded, so when I began searching for new hobbies I really gave it my best shot. I tried ballet for a few months, and while the tutu was fun to prance around in and it was a great workout, I couldn’t justify spending 200 a month twirling around with no talent for 3 hours a week. But I did try my best.

So I looked for something else to pick up and decided to try my hand at drawing – pun definitely intended because I like puns. Turns out, I can draw a little bit better than stick figure quality work, which had never been possible in my life! It’s actually become an obsession now, and I’m so glad I stumbled on this awesome new hobby in Korea because it makes my days here so much happier. You can check out some of my latest drawings on my blog where I post “What I Drew Wednesday” to share more about my learning experience as a beginner.

If you’ve lived in Korea before, what did you do when you found your routine was becoming bland and predictable? Tell us in a comment below! We’d love to hear more tips and tricks to getting the most out of our experience living in Korea!

 

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