Going abroad is almost guaranteed to shake up a traveler’s perspective of how they live. Being exposed to new ideas and how so many people get by with less can be a powerful lesson in what we truly need to be happy. While backpacking, it was fantastic to realize that I could carry everything I truly needed on my back, and know that I was surrounded by people willing to help me out if needed.
Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. The host for this month is Abigail Nedeau-Owen at Bodging for Apples, and here’s where you can read the rest of this month’s posts. I’ll be posting a new ESL-related article on my blog on the 5th of every month. Check back for more articles, and if you’d like to contribute to next month’s Blog Carnival, please contact Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he will let you know how you can start participating!
Abigail asks the question: How has living in a foreign country changed your idea of home comforts?
Life in Korea has provided a different perspective- I brought two suitcases with me, and I’m living in a highly developed country- but it has still been a catalyst for change in my life.
I’ll start with a change that took almost no time to get used to- taking trains and buses everywhere I want to go! I’ve never owned a car, and in Canada this often created hurdles, even when living in the relatively sizeable city of Winnipeg. I wasn’t as hardcore as some of my friends who biked year-round (through snowdrifts and -40 windchill) so every spring I’d be counting the days til the snow melted and the roads were clear enough for my bike.
One thing I’ve come to love is the lack of preparation required before going on a hike. In Canada, I needed to plan ahead, prepare a lunch, buy some water, and ensure I had anything I needed before getting in a vehicle and driving for at least half an hour to reach a trailhead. Here, I can get off the subway, grab some gimbap, rice cakes and water, and head off. I love it!
What else? I’ve adapted to life without an oven or microwave. (Well, 95% adapted- I sometimes heat up dinners at work!) I’m not sure if I’ve really gotten used to it per se, or if I’ve just stopped making things like roast vegetables, cookies and microwave popcorn. In either case, it hasn’t cramped my cooking style as much as expected. It’s also given me an excuse to cook some fantastic Korean food!
Although it was an adjustment to trade a shared detached house for a single-room officetel apartment, it hasn’t been a bad tradeoff. Instead of streets lined with individual houses, my neighbourhood has the kind of population density that easily supports dozens of restaurants, cafes and shops within a five-minute walk.
Finally: restaurant prices! Takeout was a rare treat in Canada- the price difference between cooking at home and ordering food was substantial. Here, it’s cheap and convenient to order all sorts of meals, especially when the price you see on the menu is exactly what you pay. (No having to do the mental math of price + tax + tip in this country, thank you very much!)
One of my favourite discoveries here has been the Yogiyo app. It took some practice and a lot of Google Translate, but once I got the hang of it I discovered a wonderfully convenient way to order takeout to my door. They even bring the food in real dishes, and pick those up after you’re done!
I’d love to hear your thoughts: how has traveling and/or living abroad changed the way you do life?