Feeling homesick is inevitable no matter where you are. Whether you are teaching in Korea, away at college, or even just a couple of hours away from home, it happens. So it isn’t something to fear, but rather something to prepare yourself for. Although some people, including myself, had a hard time being away from home upon first arriving in Korea, I have found my time abroad has really helped me become a more independent person and I am forever grateful for this experience. Below I will detail ways about how to not only become more independent and comfortable while living in Korea, but also, thanks to modern technology, how you can communicate with friend and family back home.
Do you know where you are? You are in a magical country filled with strange things that you have never seen or done. It is both fantastic and frightening. So, find some things to enjoy that can become a repetition for you! For example, I eat at the same restaurant nearly every day. It is a small Kimbap shop, and the people who work there are quite friendly to me. They remember my order even when I forget. And they secretly give me more kimchi than everyone else.
Also, hit up the gym! Running and exercising on a daily basis is not only physically healthy but it also stabilizes your mental health as well. Most of my friends attend a local gym and go once or twice a day. It really helps them to stay motivated and have energy for other things as well.
Talk with People Back Home
Have you ever heard of Facebook? Just kidding, of course you have! Whether you love or hate Facebook, their messaging app has been updated to be quite helpful with staying connected. With their video chat technology, home is just a button away. And if your mom or dad don’t know how to use Facebook, there is also the Apple messaging and calling system. When you call using wifi to another Apple device, it doesn’t use any of your calling time, and it isn’t considered international calling. No fee! If you’re not an apple fan, there are other methods as well. These other methods include, Skype, Google Hangout, and Korea’s own Kakao! If you haven’t heard of Kakao messaging, it is what everyone uses in Korea. It’s extremely convenient for chatting individually, in groups, and has its own video messaging services.
I always try to call my family for birthdays and holidays. The time difference is a bit challenging, but quite bearable. It is nice to get to talk to my family and we usually spend an hour talking about movies, and current events.
Also, while most people might love their family, everyone loves their pet. If you feel like you are missing a bundle of fur, there is a solution. Pet cafes! Pet cafes are everywhere in Korea! Most animals are those that have been rescued and just in need of some loving care. So, the cafes take the animals in to provide food, shelter, a bath, and a warm place. They often charge an extra fee or require purchase of a coffee or tea though in order to make ends meet. It can be a really great system at times. Some dog cafes I have been to are excellent, while others have been just okay. They also can serve as places where people bring their pets while they are at work. These ones are a bit more fun as the dogs are a bit more people friendly, and calm. I have never had a bad experience at a dog cafe.
So don’t be afraid, make the most of your life. Find your independence and your coping skills. Every person is different, so try to find what meets your needs.
Neil Frazer has been teaching with Chungdahm for a little over two years. He comes from a small town in Wisconsin, named Spooner and graduated from Olivet Nazarene University with a Bachelor's of Social Work. After traveling to Korea in college he quickly fell in love the culture, food, and quality of life that Korea has to offer and immediately knew he wanted to come back. He looks forward to sharing his experiences of living in Korea and working at the Pyeongchon branch, near Seoul.