13 September 2016

Linda - Expat in South Korea

Linda - Expat in South Korea

We’ve had the chance to talk to Linda, 24, an American-German expat who has moved to South Korea alone. Ms. Linda lived in China for one and a half years, before moving to South Korea. She now works as an English teacher.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I was born and raised in Germany to a German mother and an American father.


Q: What made you move out of Germany?

A: I’ve always been interested in foreign languages and countries and always had the urge to travel far away.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I live in South Korea where my fiancé is from.


Q: How long have you been living in China?

A: I lived in China for one and a half years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I currently live alone, but my fiancé and I will move together soon.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I definitely miss home and family sometimes. I cook German food and talk to friends and family back home a lot using Facebook and Skype.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Koreans are very polite and friendly towards foreigners. That definitely helps when living here.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in China? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: I have met many people, local and foreign, through work and also visit language exchanges or local language classes.


Q: How does the cost of living in China compared to your home?

A: The cost of living in China is a lot lower than back home. South Korea is a little more expensive than China but still lower than back home.

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: A cup of coffee costs almost the same as back home in both countries.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: In China, you can eat super cheap with meals starting at $1 if you choose really cheap places. In Korea, you can eat a yummy seaweed rice roll for $2.5.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: Restaurants offering Western food are usually pricier at around $15 for a meal.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: I don’t drink wine – don’t know sorry. Cigarettes are super cheap in China costing only about $2 for a pack; Korea is at about twice that price.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in China?

A: Opening up a bank account in China is quite simple, but you might need the help of a local for translating. Also be sure to bring your passport when opening a bank account.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: China has very strict visa and works permit regulations that also keep changing regularly and even immigration workers are often confused. Be patient and be sure to plan extra time.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in China is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: In my experience, health insurance does not exist, and you simply pay when you see a doctor. In South Korea, however, you get health insurance and doctors are very professional, and prices are very cheap for both consultations and medication.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in your home or South Korea? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: In South Korea, health insurance is deducted from your paycheck automatically and comes to… per month.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to China? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: I didn’t use a mover.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: In both countries, there’s definitely a language barrier for new expats. In China, very few locals speak English depending on what city you are located in. In South Korea, English is a little bit more widespread. Getting used to the local culture is also a process of improving the local lifestyle.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in China?

A: The positives are: low cost of living, great travel opportunities, big expat communities, great public transportation. The negatives: pollution, crowds of people everywhere, great culture difference.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: In China, I lived in Changsha, Hunan Province very close to various minority villages such as Fenghuang or the famous mountains of Zhangjiajie. In South Korea, I live in Cheongju in the center of the country with Songnisan National Park just outside the city.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: I cannot say for sure, but I’m definitely going to stay in South Korea for a while.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Always appreciate your opportunity of living abroad and don’t expect locals to do things your way but be grateful when they understand your way. Always remember that you are a guest in this country, and therefore you should adjust to local culture instead of being unhappy when things don’t go as they would back home.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about China?

A: I write on my own personal Website about my experience and travel abroad. I also enjoy…….