Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Buzz: Expatriate Adjustments

Let's face it, sometimes the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the world. Especially if that world doesn't even have grass and is all covered in cement and cigarette butts.

The word on the blog streets is that Expat's complain a hell-of a lot. So much that it is indeed annoying. Now the buzz is why the hell do expats complain?

Certainly there must be better things to do with your time like:
  • Read up on the culture you are living in.
  • Try to get to know a native person around you.
  • Think objectively about your situation.
The Gordsellar states the necessity to complain is practically a natural cause and effect relationship.

A look at how a complaint is turned into a firestorm:

Say you come from the pristine suburban land that is America. On your streets are mostly friendly people who say "excuse me" or "hello, how are you today?". The landscape is laid out in a pedestrian friendly manner. People make eye contact and help you if you need it.

Your life is familiar and you know how to function within your environment.

But then you pack yourself up and move to South Korea.

You are out of your native habitat and everything and everyone seems different. After having a few bad days and nights these people and these places begin to look ugly.

Everyone and everything around you becomes a scapegoat for the natural crap that is going on in your life. You need to rant so you find outlets online and speak unthinkable things about the people and culture around you with disregard for the truth.

Although you are just one person your flames of spite ignite a torrent of fury across the Internet, which ripples its away around the globe.

Thus giving the impression that foreigners can't stand it in South Korea.

It doesn't take much thought to understand that when you throw a big rock into a small pond it makes a big splash.

But this sort of splash can leave a residue behind that affects writers on the Internet that aren't pissed off.

I think as an expatriate blogger myself I am constantly having to check myself and ask:

Am I sounding like I am complaining?
When all I want to do is write about my opinions and realities that I experience. I feel that when we try to be politically correct most of the time, it pitfalls into an area where the true raw feelings we experience are washed away.


Please know that complaining isn't only reserved to the American in Korea. Koreans, UKer's, South Africa and others complain their asses off while in America.

I know because I heard an ear full of this working at summer camps where these people worked (except the Koreans).

My boyfriend would constantly complain about America and its poor transit system and lack of cleanliness. (visited San Francisco).

All in all just remember this first: when you take a fish out of the water it is going to gasp for air.

I leave you with that.


  1. Granted I have only been here for about 2-3days but I've not really seen any reason for such harsh judgements of Korea. I had heard from some that it would be so hard for me because I am black and Korean people don't like black people. Now truthfully I have had one instance of being stared at and a taxi driver ignore me while he was sitting waiting for a fare, but then I had another taxi driver who was the nicest guy and another older korean man help me with my bags.

    True the smells are different and the food can be a bit daunting at times but overall Korea is just another country with its own culture. Everything about it isn't perfect of course but look at the USA. There are so many things wrong there especially if, like me, you are a minority and from the south.

  2. I think you are going to do fine here. Wherever we live there is always going to be life adjustments and issues... :)

    anyways enjoy these days :)

  3. Yeah I definitely don't mind cheap. I'm all about location plus a friend of mine and I were thinking of moving together but she works in Songpa-gu so possibly looking for something in between there and Pyeongchon.

    Yeah life is all about adjustments. But it is also about having a great time=^^=

  4. hi there. thanks for weighing in on the expat question. There are a multiplicity of tones in K-blogs, if one is ready to poke around, and I've always liked your blog's attitude -- observing, pointing things out, but not jumping to conclusions. That's what I aim for, and if I put on my criticizing hat, I always try to be fair, even generous. I loved the line about a fish out of water.

    Thanks for adding your two bits!

  5. You've made some really interesting observations. I think it's in our nature as travelers to evaluate what's around us and compare it to what is familiar. So for some people, this automatically makes the "different" negative; for others, they put a positive spin on it.

    What's important, I think, is to just stay open-minded and take it all in before make any judgments.

  6. Erin,
    Thanks! Keeping positive in any situation in life is always a great habit to produce.
    I hope more and more people come to see that living in Korea isn't such a bad thing.



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