My Tips For Living In A New Country
Hello everyone. This post has been on my mind for a while and I am finally taking the time to write it out. I have made it no secret that while I was living in Korea, I did not like where I lived. Even though it was difficult for me, there are some things I did that made life in rural Korea a little easier to handle. I think these tips can be useful to anyone living in a rural area or just a foreign country in general, so here goes.
FIND A COMMUNITY.
Find a community of your own and make some friends with other English teachers/speakers. Life in a new country is going to be strange and fun but it can also be awkward and difficult, especially if you cannot speak the local language. Find other English teachers but don’t trap yourself in a bubble where you are no longer learning about this new country you are living in. But still make some English-speaking friends to give you that sense of comfort and a relief from constantly trying to learn a new way to communicate.
It is OKAY to be tired from not being able to speak your new country’s native language and don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed of that. Just because you are tired does not mean that you aren’t trying to adapt. It simply means you are tired, and your brain wants a break. It wants to be able to comprehend without so much effort. Again, THIS IS OKAY.
GO TO EVENTS.
You are most likely already outside your comfort zone since you are in a brand new country, so why not go exploring? Go to a concert, a festival, a cooking class, a language class, or just go on a hike. Do something that you can look back on and be glad you did it. There are many postings on Facebook that alert you of different events happening in your area. Find ones that sound interesting, grab a friend (or just yourself) and just go.
When I was in Korea, I went to a cooking class, travelled to Seoul by myself twice, and went to a concert alone. I had a blast! And if you are a teacher in Korea, don’t be afraid to go on excursions with your fellow Korean teachers. Even if you feel awkward because of the language barrier, most times, the other teachers are just happy that you came and are willing to spend time with them.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS.
Who cares if you will look silly? Who cares if people think you should already know the answer? Who cares if you have the language ability of a child? Who cares?? Just ask anyway because you will never know it unless you ask.
DON’T FORGET YOUR HOBBIES.
This is something that I battled with. There was a period of time where I just simply wasn’t adjusting to life in Korea and I fell into a big slump. I didn’t want to do anything, I didn’t want to meet anyone, I didn’t want to go anywhere, and I was constantly asking myself what it was that I was missing. I was missing my hobbies! I love to read and write and review books, films, and tv series. But after coming to Korea, I dropped all those things completely and I was feeling the void.
Don’t allow yourself to drop the things that matter to you. Keep your hobbies and find the normalcy in your life. Everything feels uprooted and different because it is. Keeping something that is the same from your home country can help make things not feel so strange and difficult. Keep your hobbies and if you want, you can also find new ones.
STAY IN CONTACT WITH YOUR FAMILY OR OTHER PEOPLE THAT MATTER MOST TO YOU.
I am fortunate enough to have amazing relationships with my family members. I have always been close to them, so it was vital for me to stay in contact with them. I spoke to a member of my family almost every day on rotation. One day it would be my dad, the next day it would be my brother, then I would skip a day and the day after that would be my mom, then my sister and her son. I love my family and video chatting with them helped keep me going during the times I wanted to hop on the next plane back to America.
Family members are the people you love the most. They don’t have to be blood related to you. If you have people like this in your life, keep in contact.
DON’T FORGET WHO YOU ARE & DON’T CHANGE WHO YOU ARE EITHER.
This is the last tip I have, and I give it because I have witnessed many people that leave their home country and completely change who they are in order to fit in. While assimilating to a new country is a good thing, completely changing who you are is not. Don’t forget your culture. Don’t think this new culture is better than yours. Don’t be ashamed of where you come from. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Just, don’t. It’s okay to try new things, learn new languages, revamp your style, learn new ways of life, etc. etc., but don’t forget who you are because you will find yourself lost and unhappy, and still not fitting in. Just be yourself, learn the manners of the country, learn the language if you want/have to, get rid of any prejudices if you have any, and follow the law. That’s it.
You are a foreigner and you will always be one. And if you are a non-Asian foreigner like me, even if you get a residency visa, you will still always be “the foreigner”. So, stop trying to fit in because you never truly will and the quicker you accept this, the easier your life will be mentally.
Those are my tips for living in a new country and these things helped me specifically while living in a rural area. I hope they were helpful to any of you reading this.
I hope you have happy & safe travels 🙂