|Terrible cartoon drawing by Marie Webb, hilarious Korean culture courtesy of Korea.|
First of all, it's nice to know that you're having a good time in korea despite the cultural differences. I'm a Malaysian who just graduated from the UK and am now working as an intern at a korean company in gangnam-gu(1 year contract). Currently livin in a studio apartment unit in Wangsimni.
So it's been one month since I got here and I'm finding it a little lonely especially with the language barrier. I mean, I like my colleagues and my other korean friends. They're lovely, but it's always nice to get to know some people who are in a similar situation as I am. My question would be: Do you know/Would you recommend any channels or hangout spots to meet up with expats? I actually found some at "meetup.com" but I'd just like to get your opinion on this. Please and thank you!
Keep up the good work :).
anonymous (Gone Seoul Searching will keep all of its readers names anonymous unless otherwise instructed)
p/s: Sometimes, I envy Westerners here as you guys are treated like celebrities whereas I blend in with the crowd because of my skin complexion. The problem would be that I can't speak Korean. People give me weird stares when I try to communicate in English (WHY is this Korean-looking guy talking in bloody English?!). I'm learning the language, but it's tough.Q: Do you know/Would you recommend any channels or hangout spots to meet up with expats?
A: Yes, meetup.com is a great resource to use if you are having difficultly meeting other foreigners. However, it is always somewhat strange to rely on technology to meet others. I strongly recommend taking some tours that are directed for expats. Companies such as www.adventurekorea.com and The Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch are always getting together groups of expats for amazing tours around Korea. The RASKB also offers multiple lectures each month in which many expats are in attendance.
If you are teaching adults, I also recommend hanging out with your students. They will often times introduce you to many places and other people in which you can make new connections. In America this would be completely unheard of, but in Korea this is acceptable.
Lastly, you should check out the community page of Seoul Magazine. The English magazine posts tons of events happening around Seoul each month. Among events such as the Seoul Players, O'ngo cooking classes, and Korean cultural classes for foreigners you should be able to meet plenty of expats. Most of all, keep an open mind and make plans to see people again and exchange numbers whenever possible. Don't be afraid to talk to foreigners on the subway just because the Korean's don't.
Q: How do I cope with an Asian appearance, but I am really a foreigner in Korea?
A: I know many Asians, Mexicans, and even Indians who are spoken to in Korean on a daily basis. The Korean people automatically assume you are a local or a mix because of your dark skin. My main recommendation to you is to learn how to say short phrases like "waygooken" "Hanguk anyio" and fast! The Koreans will immediately understand that you are just a foreigner and cannot speak any Korean.
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