Meet Morgan – American in Asia

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I moved to…

South Korea in 2013. It was my first ever international trip.

Before that I lived in…

Denver, Colorado.

The reason for moving here was…

I wanted, no, needed a new perspective and a new adventure.

Daejeon Korea Rooftop

Daejeon Korea Rooftop

If I were to describe my current city in one word, that would be…

“dynamic”. I had never lived in a large city before, and it’s quite the new experience. There is always something going on: music from the church across the street, sirens whirring by, or people laughing in the bar at the corner. There is always something new to see.

The first thing a new expat needs to know when moving here is…

That Korea, and Asia in general is like nothing you’ve experienced before. Jump in with an open heart and few expectations, or you might find yourself needlessly frustrated, and struggling with things you might have otherwise enjoyed.

Audi R8 Dunsan Daejeon Korea

Audi R8 Dunsan Daejeon Korea

The language issue…

Has been difficult. Korean is different in pretty much every way from English – the sentence structure, verb conjugation, and even the alphabet. I can hold a basic conversation, but honestly I haven’t studied nearly as much as I should so I’m still in the learning process.

Since I moved here I stopped…

Worrying about the worst possible outcome. Things often don’t turn out the way you planned, and you either get flustered and angry, or just roll with it and keep smiling.

Since I moved here the new thing I started doing is…

Bowing, all the time. Bowing is here is like a hand shake, and it’s considered rude if you don’t at least do a small bow upon greeting someone.

My biggest lesson learned is…

That attitude really is everything. What you put into a situation will be returned to you 100 times or more. If you approach everything with an uplifting and positive attitude, not only will you be better liked, you will just feel better period.

A weird habit that the locals have is…

Opening the windows when it’s raining or snowing. Since Korea is very humid, I can kind of understand in that it’s supposed to help waylay any mold formation. But really, the last thing you want to see when you’re already freezing is snow blowing in through one of the many wide open windows.

My biggest cultural shock was…

How homogenous Korea is as a country. I had been told, but didn’t fully understand (at all) how small the foreigner population is in Korea. It’s very common to be openly stared at, or even to have strangers ask to take a picture with me solely on the basis that I am very clearly a foreigner.

Korea Plane Tickets

Korea Plane Tickets

One of my funniest experiences…

Occurred when I first arrived. As I just said, seeing a foreigner, especially one as tall as me with light hair and eyes is kind of rare. So, I was standing in one of the many stationary stores in my city, when an extremely cute little girl ran up and started talking to me in Korean. She then grabbed my hand and dragged me over to her father to show him what she had found. She was so excited and pleased with herself that she had found a “waygookin” – the Korean word for foreigner – she just had to show her Dad.

What I miss the most from home is…

The availability of diverse food. Don’t get me wrong, I love Korean food and am happy eating that most all the time. However, sometimes I really just want a gigantic chicken burrito smothered in green chili, and things like that just aren’t available here.

Whenever I get home sick, what I miss is…

The Rocky Mountains, the clear blue Colorado sky, and the fresh, clean air. As well, of course, as my family and friends, but I feel like that’s a given.

Travel Must Have's

Travel Must Have’s

I go home as often as…

Never? I haven’t been home in over a year now, but I am planning on visiting for two weeks in January.

I keep in contact with my friends and family…

Over Skype, Facebook messenger, and Viber. Different people use different services, but all of the ones I mentioned allow for free international texting and calling.

My favorite dish/local food is…

Korean BBQ. Koreans take their meat very seriously and this dish is hugely popular. Not only is it filling and delicious, it’s actually pretty cheap too! For a huge portion of meat, several vegetable side dishes, rice, and even beer if you want, the Price usually comes out to what would be $7 or $8 USD.

My favorite places in town are…

An abandoned amusement park North of the city center, the main nightlife district, and the various mountains that surround the city.

I get around the city using…

Buses, the subway, and walking. That was actually one big adjustment, because at home I drove almost everywhere. However, Korean public transportation is top notch, so once I figured out my routes getting around became very easy.

Street fashion…

Is on point! Koreans love fashion and take their personal appearance very seriously. That is actually one of the things I really enjoy about living here: women and men, both, always make the effort to look good when they leave the house.

My view on people:

Though we are all divided by superficial things such as appearance and language, when it comes down to it, most people are ultimately not the same. Pretty much everyone you’ll ever meet wants the same things: to be happy, to be loved, and to get through life in one piece.

Being an expat…

Has definitely changed me. Though how much, I can’t yet say. As I haven’t been home since I left over a year ago, I haven’t really had the chance to interact with people who aren’t expats. Everyone I’ve met while living in Korea is either an expat, or at the very least a traveler so it’s difficult to say whether or not I’ll feel different amongst my friends from home.

In 5 years, I see myself living in…

Brazil.. or Portugal.. or Taiwan! Honestly, I’m not sure where I’ll be living in five years. Maybe I’ll have satiated my wanderlust and decided to go home, then again maybe not. That’s part of the fun, I think, to wander freely and go wherever my heart takes me next.



Morgan Sullivan

Morgan is a Colorado native with suburban sensibilities and penthouse dreams. She writes about life as a millennial wander, self-improvement through travel, and the realities of teaching English in Korea on her website A Beautiful View. Currently in the throes of a desperate battle between dreamland and adulthood, she invites you to come along as she explores this crazy beautiful world of ours.

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  1. Pingback: Most read in October - XpatGirls.com

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