Living abroad can be a fantastically positive experience full of eye-opening adventures and experiences that will last a lifetime… if you choose the right place. Choosing the right country isn’t easy and there are a lot of factors to consider. Will I survive the culture shock? Will I be able to communicate with the locals? How easily can I contact my family if I’m feeling homesick? For anyone interested in expanding their horizons while still living comfortably, check out South Korea for what’s guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience. Since the capital offers the most variety, let’s look at five reasons to live abroad in Seoul.
In addition to the internet being the fastest in the world, it’s also ubiquitous. You’ll have plenty of time to stream or download vast quantities of movies and music from almost anywhere in the city. Feel free to ask a local PC bang oh-dee-ye-yo? (Where is the PC room?) and check in at any time of the day or night to play games or video chat with your family.
If you’re worried about getting around such a massive city without a car or motorbike, don’t be. Not only is the subway and bus system highly convenient, it’s also cheap and safe. Buy a T-Money card at any convenience store and pay just 1,050 won (about $1USD) for a base fare to just about anywhere in the city. Transferring from subway to bus and back again is free and you’re only charged a small additional fee for traveling long distances. The entire transportation system is monitored by CCTV and is so safe that it’s not uncommon to see small children safely traveling alone to and from school. If you find yourself squeezing through the inevitable crowds of people, try saying jam-shi-man-yo to warn those ahead that you’re trying to pass.
When you’re ready for a break, head to Haebangcheon or Itaewon to let loose with some local libations. Try some soju, a vodka-like spirit made from rice, with some beer (maekju) as a chaser, or try them together. Koreans often dump a shot of soju into their beer and call it so-maek for a slightly stiffer drink. Share one with an adjushi (older Korean man) at a pub and you’ll make a friend for life. If you’re into live music, take the subway to Hongdae University and wander into one of the many indie-rock bars for some local and expat rock music to bob your head to.
If you want it, they have it. The many shopping districts of Seoul offer everything from the latest styles of clothes and cosmetics to electronics that look like they belong in a sci-fi film. You’ll easily acquire an entirely new wardrobe and some nice high-tech gadgets with a few trips to Myeongdong, Yongsan or Insadong. Ask the vendors eol-ma-yeyo? (how much?) and then try to get a better price like the rest of the locals.
Refuel your stomach cheaply at almost any time of day or night with Seoul’s delicious street food. Try ddeokbokki (rice and fish cake in red chili sauce) or just some chicken on a stick from any of the thousands of street food vendors spread throughout the city. If you’re an exceptionally brave eater, ask for beondegi (silkworm larvae) for a snack in between meals.
Before you know it, you’ll be thinking and even speaking like a local if you decide to fully immerse yourself in this beautifully unique culture. If you need to brush up on the language before you jet off, test your Korean level here. Where will your first trip to Korea take you?