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How Living Abroad Changes Your Life

July 1, 2015


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This topic might seem like it came out of left field, but it’s something that we always discuss amongst ourselves. What is our place in Korea? What is our national identity now, after having lived abroad for such a significant portion of our lives? Are we still…Canadian? How has living here changed us? And we’re not just talking in terms of how we look or what we eat. How has living in Korea changed what we think about the world as a whole? What is our place in the world?

Some things on the surface have changed. The importance of holidays for us is vastly different now than before. Christmas is usually such a big deal, and people stress out over whether the turkey is prepared properly, or if the tree is decorated properly, but once you’re in a country that doesn’t offer turkey at a non-bankrupting price, you learn to do with less. And not only do you do with less, but you enjoy that less so much more. The chicken sandwich you have with your friends in Korea over Christmas you appreciate more than the “perfect” typical Christmas back home, because it’s routine back home, and far less precious and challenging. It’s the lack of Christmas that makes you appreciate it more than you would in its abundance.

Otherwise, there are holidays we just don’t care much for anymore. Today is Canada Day! It was a big deal for us before, but now we’re just like “oh. It’s Canada Day. Still gotta get to the studio and make a video, though!” I’m sure it’d be super fun if we were back home, but we’re so used to not celebrating it now that it doesn’t really feel like we need it anymore. Thanksgiving as well. We haven’t celebrated it in…oh man I can’t remember. So on the one hand, when we do try to celebrate holidays that aren’t represented well overseas, we appreciate it more than we otherwise would, because we put more effort into it than we would otherwise, but not celebrating holidays doesn’t affect us as bad as it would if we were in a country that celebrates them, you know?

Our next point, one that has deep ramifications, is nesting. Really! Especially if you’re a married couple, I think, this is a big one. You have an idea of what your ideal home should look like, what kind of rugs and cutlery you should have. You think about things to hang on your wall, what kind of entertainment system you want to set up. What tools should you have in your shed. What rug will you have in your living room. What shoe rack will you have by your front door. If you’re living back home, you can start investing in filling up your apartment or house with stuff. If you’re living overseas, though, you don’t typically get as many things as you normally would. Why? Because you know you’re not going to be there forever. Why buy a couch if you’re not going to have it for 10 years? You settle on a couch you’d find on Craigslist, or even on a couch that you’d find on the streets. You settle for a secondhand TV instead of a new one. You don’t get the nice bed frame you want because bringing that out of the country would be a huge hassle. For us, a big issue we had to come to grips with was the idea of our library: we love books, and back in Canada I’ve got a great collection of books, lots of rare books as well. In Korea, though, I just use a Kindle. Buying and bringing books with me everywhere isn’t an option.

What this all means, then, is that you come to realize that you can live with a lot less than you’d settle for if you were living back home. You’re more streamlined, live with less excess. Sure, you might buy a picture or two to hang up on your walls, and you’ll try to make your place kinda homely if you’re living abroad, but that impending sense of uncertainty as to how long you’ll be living there dictates that you’ll be collecting a lot less.

Even the concept of ownership changes. Sure, I’d love own a house and have a lawn and a lawnmower and a garage and tools to build stuff with, but that’s not really possible in Korea. Without all of that, though, I have a different sense of freedom rather than stability. And I think it’s a great thing to live with. A lack of a feeling of permanence is…existential in a way, isn’t it? I mean, we’re not even citizens in Korea. We don’t have permanent residence. Every year we have to go to immigration, show them our papers, prove that we’re doing everything legally, show them how much money we’re earning. We have to prove to them that we have a right to live here. Most people don’t have to struggle for that. Living where you live is your granted right. You can’t be deported out of the country you were born in. For us, this permanence isn’t for granted. There’s no permanence, no promise for us here. But with that, we always feel like we can, if we ever wanted to or ever needed to, we could easily get up and go, since we don’t own that many things. It’s almost like playing Skyrim: you can move a lot more freely if your bags are lighter, but once your bags are too full moving is almost impossible to move on.

On some even deeper level, we often hear about how we’re “guests” in Korea, which I always find a preposterous metaphor. If I ever have guests over at my house, I cook for them, let them use my stuff, and show them a good time. I don’t make them pay taxes, test them for AIDS, and file paperwork to live in my house for a limited time. But I do agree with the feeling of impermanence in Korea akin to being a guest in a home. Altogether, though, we are – and don’t make fun of me here – guests on Earth as a whole. Whether you’re living in Korea for a decade or living in Canada for 100 years, your time here is limited. Living as an expat gives a stronger sense of impermanence than I originally had before traveling, and I think it’s very valuable and should be applied even to people that never leave their homes. No one’s home will be their home forever, and being comfortable with this instability is, I think, important to life altogether…maaaaaan.

Ok this got weird. If you have any thoughts on the matter, on living abroad and how it changed you, we’d love to hear it. We could just be thinking about this too much and probably just need to go outside and get some sunlight. That could be it…



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How Living Abroad Changes Your Life


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  1. As an Aussie who has lived in the Philippines since I was two weeks old I relate to you guys somewhat here. Over the 15 years of my life I’ve only spent about 1.7 years in Australia and I’m currently there for about a month.
    So I’ve been thinking about stuff like this a lot recently. Like how all of the memories of childhood that I’ve forgotten took place in the philippines. or how tagalog has been the backdrop of all my shopping excursions. Here I don’t understand the culture. I don’t know what to wear or how to act. I instantly stand out here because of my american accent (which I picked up by attending an international school in the Phils.), an accent I may never lose. There’s a hostility to strangers here that I’m not used to dealing with. While back there I always felt confident in public.
    And that brings up another point. In the Philippines, a country that sometimes idolizes western culture, i’ve grown up as someone exciting and special in the public eyes. It’s like being a very very minor celebrity. like I have had strangers ask to take a photo with them or be their friend on fb. I often worry if this upbringing has made me somewhat self-obsessed or vain.
    Another thought that keeps flying through my head while I’m in Oz is that I’m not sure if I could actually live here long-term. I may end up back overseas after uni and then my kids will go through this thing aswell.
    Idk this was all over the place but thats just my thought :)

    5 years ago
  2. Where to start? It’s completely turned my identity around.

    I was born in Russia but my immediate family and I relocated to America and have been living here for 16(?) years so far, since I was little. Is that counted in “living abroad”? Now you guys know how I and my family feel when people notice my Russian name or my family and I talking in Russian and then IMMEDIATELY ask where we’re from and then proceed to say how much they love Russia or are planning to go or whatnot. I live in the South so it happens quite a bit. I know it’s well-meaning, but it gets on your nerves because it’s a constant reminder that you are not an American you are an “outsider”/”out-of-the- main group” and that feels really disheartening.You can be white and blend in on the outside, speak English without an accent, even have citizenship (yay!), but if you’re foreign you’ll always be a curiosity/”special” first and you will start to think of yourself that way as well. You will brace yourself for people to mispronounce your name and ask you all sorts of questions and give comments. I kinda feel like having a chronic/invisible illness is the same in some aspects, but that’s another can of worms!

    The other thing is that you become an ambassador for your home-country, whether you like it or not. I don’t think people realize that I’m not an expert on my homeland. I don’t know that much about my own country (history, culture, Putin) so I can’t answer many of your questions and I don’t really have concrete political views as I don’t see myself as fully American or fully Russian anymore, I am a foreigner in both countries but comfortable living in both in certain ways. I have a limited grasp on Russian grammar and the language, too, people ask me to teach them but I would be extremely embarrassed to teach you fully, even if you think my pronunciation is amazing I am kind of embarrassed to open my mouth in my home country. People have gotten mad at me for not assuming this role fully and friendships have been strained BECAUSE I am not the person that they expect me to be and it kinda hurts, guise. I want to be considered a person that is unique and has their own interests, first, not some kind of resource.

    Lastly, it seriously affected how I connected with people and what I shared with them. In my home country I feel a lot more open and comfortable with people I know, neighbors, extended family, etc. as me and my family interact in the same ways, express our emotions similarly, speak the same language, etc. It’s very hard to explain. In America, I change how I act around my friends because they don’t know my bubble at home. However, I feel more comfortable with strangers and staff/personnel as they are super-nice and respectful, as Russian strangers are brusque and good luck talking to police/officials/staff like a person without some sort of bribe!

    5 years ago
  3. I haven’t lived abroad yet, but I will be soon. I’m now thinking I should pack spices to bring with me. If you see this, which spices do you miss that you cannot get in Korea?

    5 years ago
    • I live in the southern part of Korea, so maybe in the Seoul area you can find more spices.. but when i go on vacation, I always bring back spices such as paprika ~ cayenne and those mix packets such as taco ~ chili ~ brown gravy. :)

      5 years ago
  4. I grew up moving a lot. so, yeah I know that feel guys.

    I actually grew up from ages 3 months to 3.5 years in Italy. Then I moved back tothe U.S. And it was kind of weird moving back because I had no clue what it was like even though I was born there.

    It was super different but I adapted and lived in Maryland for about 1.5 years.

    Then I moved to England and lived there for 4 years, again the culture was way different than what I had known.

    Then I moved to Florida for 4 more years and finally Virginia for 10 years.

    Even in the U.S. each state is different in terms of their culture even though most everything else is familiar. I’m sure other countries have different cultures in different regions as well.

    I understand your friend deaths, Eventually you just become numb to it.

    I think moving to different places in general opens you up to seeing the world and people differently for good or for bad.

    As a result to growing up in different cultures, I think I understand people better in general. I had to train myself to listen more and be observant in order to get along with and understand other people.

    There is a feeling of isolation that comes with it but I think I enjoyed that. I wouldn’t be as different as I am had I only experienced one culture.

    For me it still feels weird to stay in one place. I’ll be a little philosophical about it.

    Traveling and living in various places is like being a bird and building a nest to live in for a little while. Then you suddenly get the urge to leave and explore and create another dwelling elsewhere.

    The cycle repeats over and over. No matter where you go, is it really home? or is there something better over the horizon?

    Either way, you’re looking for a place to call home that may not even exist on this earth.

    5 years ago
  5. Oh, I have an idea for the fans that send you guys gifts!!;D
    Underpants, Canadian spices etc,, ~
    C; Haha,,
    Do you have plans to visit The Netherlands again?
    You guys are awesome and the best!<3
    Love for the video and blogpost, ~

    5 years ago
  6. Hey EYK family!

    This was such a relatable topic for me, thanks for choosing it.

    My story begins with being brought up in Malaysia for the first 18 years of my life. I then moved to Melbourne, Australia for my education and really began to explore what my nationality and culture meant to me. I realized all the bad and good culturalisms that my Asian-ness brought and over the years learned how to be more Australian and enjoy Australian things. Which is important in order to fit in with that society. I began to relate better with Australians and had more friends in Australia. Over the years, Malaysia is now longer home to me. I do not live or work there nor do I have the intention of returning. Its where I was born and where my family lives, but sadly it is no longer home. I still care deeply about the country but I cannot see myself returning there.

    Over that time I also had started a long distance relationship with my husband and eventually we got married. He is also Malaysian but lives in the Netherlands, which is where I live now. I’ve just reached my one year mark and survived so I am pretty chuffed about myself, because there was a much larger culture shock moving here.

    I’ve realized how important it is to speak the local language where you live. At least on a level where you can understand others, even if its not fluent. I was incredibly lost and depressed the first few months because nothing made sense. Roads are all on the wrong side (for me), don’t understand public transport announcements, don’t know what’s going on the telly or radio. It was incredibly depressing. Picking up some language lessons and having an amazing teacher really helped me settle and understand the culture as well.

    Times have also changed tremendously. With the internet, its so easy to connect with family and friends, get information, etc. Back even one generation, it think it was incredibly hard to live abroad and be as well informed as we are now.

    The most important thing I appreciate about living abroad is how it has opened up my mind to cultures, perspectives, etc. I think if I didn’t live abroad I would still be a girl frightened of everything. Living abroad has forced me to be brave and shown me that I am braver than I think or feel. I’m grateful to have this opportunity.

    But of course the best perks to living in Europe is that if I miss eating pies, I just scoot down to England to get me some. And I’ve been to London, Rome, Belgium, Luxembourg, Nice, Norway and Monaco just in the last 6 months. It’s pretty cool to be able to do it over a weekend and over a tight budget. :)

    5 years ago
  7. My situation is a little different since I was brought up pretty abnormally (my first comment here woot!) but I totally agree with friendships and being okay with not celebrating certain holidays.
    Story time: I’ve lived in a bubble almost my entire life and with minimal social interaction during the prime years of my life (thanks to the most extreme parents and family) and have only traveled to places “nearby” with family which never turned out to be good vacations anyway. However, I have always dreamed of going to Korea (Kpop lover since 2004!) and wanted to study abroad there. Having practically no relationship with my family made me very secretive and pretty much an outsider. So I hid my passion for K-pop, learning languages, traveling, cute things I wanted, etc. because if they found out, I would be labeled the “weird one” (at that age, I really cared about what others thought about me, especially my family) and get things taken away from me if I did something “bad.” So I never collected anything, talked about things I liked, never looked excited for things, and had to act a certain way in front of them. Of course I had imaginations of my future home and how to decorate it and everything, but in reality my room is so bland and lifeless, you wouldn’t think it’s a girl’s room lol.

    Eventually things changed so I decided to study abroad in Taiwan (getting approval and my passport and completing all the paperwork is a whole different story lol) and I absolutely fell in love. So much so, that I felt like Taiwan was my home instead of my actual home in the states. I had strangers treat me like family more than my actual family and I didn’t think I could live anywhere else except in my little bubble. I became pretty fluent in Mandarin and learned the customs and all of the popular apps used there and famous restaurants and so on. I bought all of the cute and cool things that I wanted to buy, I chatted with friends about our favorite Kpop songs and Kdramas, I decorated my room with posters and stuffed animals even though I knew I wasn’t going to be in Taiwan forever. Even though I cried on the airplane arriving to Taipei and I also had some drama happen with some people, I finally had a life and I honestly wished I could have moved there. And honestly, other than the language barrier, I did not have as big of a culture shock than I expected to have.

    But arriving back in the states was a total culture shock haha; I wanted to tell my parents of all the awesome adventures I went on and all of the wonderful people I met and all of the delicious food I ate but I forgot that I had to revert back to my stoic face and tell them what they only cared about hearing which was: “Yes, I got an A in my class.” Even going back to my school was painful because I missed the crowded streets and liveliness at night, I missed having to pay only $5 for a good dinner, I missed doing different things everyday instead of just going to class and having a mundane routine. Although it was very interesting to hear my mainland Chinese friends and Taiwanese friends notice that my mannerisms and actions and speaking is all very Taiwanese. I will never forget my friend saying,”You sound really Taiwanese, are you even American anymore?”

    Anyways, I just wanted to say that my experience was quite the opposite, but I completely agree that living abroad changes you on several levels, that you appreciate things about your home country more while you’re away (even though that didn’t happen that often for me lol), and that being comfortable with that instability is important to life!

    [Btw I had a mini vacation in Korea when I was abroad and holy moly, I will never ever go there again during the winter! x.x But I definitely have to go back to eat at Hongdae and see Jeju again in the fall or spring! Also, I stopped by the You Are Here Cafe! I didn’t get to meet you guys, but OMG your Korean Blackberry tea was amaaaaazing~~~ I wanted to try your famous milkshakes but it was too cold for them >.< I hope I can meet you both someday :3 Thank you for being your nerdy and punny selves and always making my day brighter <3]

    5 years ago
  8. I’ve been studying abroad for 2 years now already and I must say that it completely changed me. My views on what is considered to be right and wrong is so much more opened now. I am no longer extremely surprised or outraged if someone tells me they do something differently. In a phrase, I could say that it made mo more accepting of new situations.
    Second thing is similar to what you mentioned about friendships. People come and go and at first it was really hard to grasp that concept, but now it feels okay as I know that I have met someone awesome and we spent very nice times together, we each grew from this experience and I will cherish it forever. It’s still sad having people leave but I learnt to embrace the time spent together.
    Thirdly, during holidays when I go back home, everything feels so different. The people I knew or the way you do things is quite different and it takes time to get used to it again. It’s weird in a way cause I have to get used to things I’ve being doing my whole life before.

    5 years ago
  9. I have lived in the US since I was around three but I was born here and I am a citizen of US. I am fully Chinese and I lived in China from 4 months-3years. During that time, I had mainly learned Chinese because I lived with my grandparents and they don’t speak English. I remember always having a harder time understanding English than others in kindergarten and preschool. Since my parents both grew up in china, they had different views than most Americans and I grew up thinking a little different than the other kids. Of course I have adapted to American culture but sometimes I think to myself how different living in China would be so I am thankful for my parents for giving me the chance to live in a different country.

    I have a question though, when do you guys plan on going back to Canada? I mean are you guys planning on having kids in Korea and have them go to school in Korea?

    5 years ago
  10. I am currently on sabbatical, but will be returning to ROK at the end of July. I miss it. It’s funny how many of the mannerisms you pick up, and to tell the truth, I miss the food! Austin (thanks to Samsung) has a pretty decent Korean population, so it’s possible to pick up tasty dishes, and use a few Korean phrases without offending a friend or family member (whom seem to be the most sensitive to cross cultural expressions.) And you get used to some of the perks Korea offers (cheap transportation, grocery stores that deliver, street markets and food, not having to tip everyone and their mother, etc.) I can’t wait to get back and go to the jimjibang for a good scrub down, and grab some kimbap and an americano while waiting for the subway. Previously, I was in Korea for about 2.5 years, and really enjoyed it. I love living in a place that has so much to offer. I am never bored, and the people I’ve met (Korean and expat) are all pretty great as a whole. Living abroad was always a pipe dream for me, until I got off my duff and took the leap. I am so glad that I did. The USA is disturbing to me now. There is so much violence and just outright disregard for polite, moral behavior. Perhaps, that is what has changed for me the most. I’ve lost the bias that anything goes, in the name of personal freedom. I believe now that we all should take others into consideration, before trying to shock as many people as possible with blantant personal fortitude.

    5 years ago
  11. Speaking on Canada, Happy Canada Day!!!

    5 years ago
  12. I find your thoughts on holidays and heritage quite sad, actually. I lived abroad in Korea for three years and Australia for two (from Canada) and there’s nothing I valued MORE than celebrating traditional holidays with my fellow expat friends. Canada Day was celebrated as well as Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas. It was something we could do to celebrate our heritage and roots, remembering where we came from. It’s too bad that you think of Canada Day as just another day or that you ‘don’t need it’ anymore. You have a ton of privileges coming from Canada, and I guess good for you for not ‘needing it’ anymore, but it comes across as way pretentious.

    Living abroad to me meant that I was in an exciting circumstance where I could explore new cultures in addition to always valuing where I came from.

    5 years ago
    • I disagree. Someone feeling different than you about an experience that is theirs does not make them sound pretentious.

      Seems to me that you couldn’t have learned anything of value from living in other cultures if you think that your way of looking at things is the only right way.

      5 years ago
    • But exactly what you said in your last sentence is what we find happening more. “Living abroad to me meant that I was in an exciting circumstance where I could explore new cultures” We find ourselves celebrating Korean holidays (like the Korean version of Thanksgiving) more than we would the Canadian version because the Canadian version is not a day off for us in Korea. Also I think you might have read our post in an angry voice? We meant that celebrating Christmas with a chicken sandwich with good friends IS Christmas more than having all the “right” holiday things. Holidays and celebrations are what you make it, it doesn’t require the correct “stuff” to make it a holiday. :D Hope that makes more sense.

      5 years ago
      • Hello, thanks for taking the time to reply . Honestly, I think reading that you don’t need Canada Day (on Canada Day no less) altered the voice of your writing for me. It just seemed kind of dismissive to me. I totally understand that the get together without all the ‘holiday stuff’ is just as special as the holiday at home would be, or even more special/memorable.

        My comment was more to encourage engaging in other cultures but also finding a way to celebrate days like the 4th of July, Canada Day, etc. In my opinion/experience, those are not days that fade even after living abroad for years. I respect that perhaps they have for you, but I still find it to be too bad.

        Again, thanks for your reply. I have been watching you guys since I first arrived in Korea (about 2009). Take care and enjoy your summer.

        5 years ago
        • My perspective is admittedly limited, given that I’ve never lived outside the USA, but I think I can well imagine how Simon and Martina feel concerning celebrating a holiday like Canada Day. My take away from their post is that, traveling so extensively, and living in another country for so long, gives one a different perspective on one’s place in the world. No holiday has intrinsic importance outside of context. And the importance, meaning, symbolism of a particular holiday can change as one’s perspective is given to change. If one’s experience has lead one to feel more like a citizen of the world, as opposed to a citizen of one particular country, holidays that hold sacred the founding or cultural traditions of one country may come to seem inherently less important. One begins to understand that there are countless holidays celebrated worldwide, and that their meaning, or lack thereof depends entirely upon context and perspective.

          I’m African American, and have happily celebrated July 4th my entire life. We hang an American flag from a stanchion on our front porch every year, gather with family and friends to eat traditional fare, and watch fireworks after sunset. But my feelings surrounding this holiday are ambivilant to say the least, especially since the ideals it established were by no means meant to apply to my ancestors living during that time, nor to many of the generations that followed. In fact, those ideal are still something we have yet to fully grant all citizens in this country. What I celebrate is our potential of fully becoming that nation established on July 4th. But, if I were to become a more or less permanent resident of another country for as long as Simon and Martina have, celebrating the 4th of July would probably become less and less of a priority, in no small part because my perspective on the 4th within the context the broader world would shift.

          5 years ago
  13. I lived in France (in Dunkirk) for a while and was working as an English teacher of sorts. I basically worked with small groups of students at a time from various classes to help them with their English speaking mostly. What is interesting is that when I went to get my ‘titre de séjour’ (basically an ID card that says who I am, where I live, why I’m in France and where I’m from.) the lady told me that I was the only Australian person in that city. (This was in 2008). Which felt kind of odd to be honest. A lot of people assumed I was Canadian (likely because of Quebec’s connection to France) they were always very surprised when I told them where I was from. 99% of people had never heard of the place I am from also, which seemed odd to me at first because it’s a well-known tourist town. Also, at the time, while I could speak French it wasn’t as good as it is now, I still had a bit of an Australian accent and everyone (like in shops and stuff) knew I was a foreigner. Which got annoying at times, but I understand why they pointed it out to me, they were just interested in where I was from and why I was there. Which I guess is the same in Korea. Also, when I came back to Australia, our accent never seemed stronger. Which seemed really odd at the time. Also, I was so used to French mannerisms and customs that it took me a while to adjust properly. I would often use a French word in place of an English one too, without thinking about it. My American friend who came to visit me (with an English friend she had been visiting) in France, and she pointed out how I have this whole new routine and life in France, and how it was different to the kind of routine I had in Australia and how that French routine had become normal to me. And I think about that sometimes and it’s almost like I had a whole other life in France. Kind of weird to think about really.

    5 years ago
  14. I haven’t lived abroad myself (though moving to Suwon in September to teach for a year- woop!), but I have a question for you both which stems from my own thought about my eventual/temporary “identity.” What makes an “expat” versus an “immigrant?” I always read blogs and articles about “expats” living abroad, but never hear westerners referred to as immigrants, though non-westerners who move to western countries are never called “expats.” Just curious about your thoughts on it and how you would identify yourselves if you would feel the need to even do so in that context. Is it more dependent on who is referring to whom (I am an expat versus someone calling ma an immigrant)?

    5 years ago
    • Actually, I’ve heard a lot of Americans at least that move to Europe and South America call themselves “expats”. I’m not sure if this is just an American thing, but if you move to pretty much any other country (even Canada), you’re considered an expat. We tend to reserve immigrant more for people coming TO America.

      5 years ago
  15. I find that not only the outlook you have on things changes, but the way people see you does as well. I was born and semi-raised (until school age) in the Republic of Moldova. My mother moved to Romania for work and when I stayed with my grandmother till I had to go to school, which is when I moved with my mom. At first it was quite difficult, because of the language (both countries speak the same language just different dialects, which surprisingly makes it worse as people don’t tend to see you as foreigner, but as a stupid person) however as I got used to it people from Moldova started looking at me as foreigner. Therefore basically I was with no actual “home”. After I finished high-school I moved to the UK, where I’ve been living for the past 4 years, and the cycle seems to be repeating. It is a bit difficult due to the prejudices the locals have of what people with you nationality should act like or do and until you break those it takes some effort. And I don’t even look different from them.

    Have you encountered such … casual discrimination?

    Since I started living in the UK I have not lived in the same place for more than 2 years, and last September I had to change accommodations 3 times, which makes it a bit more difficult to feel like I belong here. I keep my books at a local friends’ place and we all know you’re not really home until you have a place for your books, be it on the floor.

    Also, because I am alone here, holidays and weekends are the worst as everyone seem to be going home to parents and then there’s just me… and Netflix XD.

    On the upside I think that moving to a different country helps people develop their social skills (you have to, otherwise you’re in trouble). I found that it helped me level up my people “reading” ability. I can tell who I can trust or not faster by the way they approach me (sure, there are times when I’m wrong but most of the time it works). Anything like that happened to you?

    5 years ago
  16. Oddly some of the things you’ve mentioned I can relate to, even though I haven’t moved far far away. I’m from North Jersey and moved to Philadelphia for college. My parents moved across the country so I couldn’t just go back home for holidays and after college. It is a short distance but things are VERY DIFFERENT. My husband and I are now in South Jersey and anyone from New Jersey will tell you that the two are very different. We often get asked where we are from, I say where I am from and most people don’t know where it is (and probably assume it is closer to NYC than what it really is) then my husband says where he is from and a huge discussion starts up.

    Also your whole “nesting” discussion hit home with me. My husband and I got married and live in a small apartment. We picked a small cheap place to save money for a house. In the process we pretty much don’t want anything. Birthday and Christmas gifts are burdens because we don’t have the space to use the stuff. Like we got a nice cuisinart food processor, which is sweet but a huge pain to pull out to use. Now that we are buying a house, there are lots of disagreements about how much to invest in furniture because I don’t think we are staying, and my husband thinks we will. It probably more reassuring for you guys since you know a little more concrete on what to spend money on.

    Clearly my example are much smaller scaled. I’m still in the same country, and hell still in the same state. Which makes me wonder what would of happened if my parents moved BEFORE I went to college. My mother was looking at jobs in Montana before I went to college, would I want to be on east coast still? What would of happened if my husband and I pursued our dreams of film and TV and went to LA? Not even thinking about career changes, just cultural changes. That is what i find interesting about the US, you can be in the same country and life will be very different.

    5 years ago
  17. I was born in Philippines and lived there until I was 12 years old when I have to move to Dublin, Ireland; I have been living in Ireland now for 9 years. Although I am a naturalised citizen of Ireland, there are still certain stuff that I don’t know because I am not a native Irish and I do acknowledge that fact and it has certainly change my perspective of some things. There are also certain habits that I am not used to because of the huge cultural difference between the two countries. However, I can say that I have built up a very supportive group of friends here and I can never say thank you enough to them as well as my family. But as someone who lived in Philippines for nearly half of my life, I can say that I do miss the availability of certain stuff. I cannot just get a wide variety of fruits and vegetables as I used to get in Philippines; this makes me sad immensely because I’m someone who had a huge garden in Philippines -_-. Furthermore, I also miss the little trinkets I’ve amassed in my room. I think it is mostly because of the fact that we only rent the house we are living in that there is no personal connection to the house; no childhood memories and such. I also have a huge family support there in comparison to Ireland.

    P.S. I hope you don’t think too much on the subject though because it could prevent you from enjoying living in a certain place. Also, I wish the best for you guys there in Korea. :D

    5 years ago
  18. I have lived in my country since birth, and never once felt as if I belonged. I feel my view of things just doesn’t go according to most people here, so I always get the weird looks XD . I blame the internet for this (lol jk) it has been like this long before I had internet access. I don’t know, guess some of us will never actually “fit in” wherever we go. Good thing is that when I finally get to move out of here (Guatemala), maybe the “not fitting in” feeling won’t be new to me and it will be a less thing to worry about.

    PS: I was wondering if you could give more details in regards to getting your annual “alien card” like, is it hard? Have you had any friends who got it denied? (It’s because I plan to move to Korea within 2 years and want to be prepared as much as I can.)

    PS(2): This is my first comment here woots! but I have been a fan since…2010 XD Love your vids and hope K-Pop Music Mondays return :’) haha Love u guyz~

    5 years ago
  19. I feel you 100% when it comes to the significance of impermanence in life. When I was a kid, I always built up collections of things and then gave them all away at some point. I’d do things like hand out comic books and Magic cards to anyone in class who wanted them, give my Goosebumps books to kids during summer camp, let my little brother have my Marvel/basketball card collections, etc. We’re talking thousands of dollars and many years’ worth of collectibles here. It seemed like I enjoyed the pursuit of collecting all this stuff because of the transient joy it brought me, but once I wound up accumulating enough of it, I felt compelled to get rid of it.

    This sentiment towards impermanence still lingers today. I’ve changed residences nearly twenty times since I was in high school, and other than my car, you can fit the rest of my belongings — furniture included — in a medium-sized bathroom. I even erase my computer hard drives cyclically, at least once every 2-3 years. I know: weird, huh? The thing is, I’ve always felt weighed down by personal possessions. Just the thought of owning all this “stuff” taxes my psyche, as if I have to commit too much energy to protecting what I already have instead of having the freedom to pursue other things in life. (I was probably a good Buddhist in a past lifetime.) As the late, great Western philosopher Tyler Durden once said, “The things you own end up owning you.”

    My particular case may be a bit radical, but I do believe it’d be beneficial if we transitioned further away from being an “ownership” society to a “renting” one, where people could experience everything the world had to offer without being tied down by geographical or logistical burdens. Not only would this be preferable on an individual level in the long-term, but it’d also be far more efficient. Just look at all those cars sitting idly in parking lots or driveways for 20-23 hours of the day. Instead of being wastes of space, imagine if all of those cars were actually being used by someone who needed them! And rather than being individually-owned and occupied, more and more properties would start becoming communally-owned and shared, resulting in an increased flow of people and ideas throughout all parts of the globe; this would help to further accelerate development, innovation and the breakdown of national boundaries.

    Urbanization and technology are helping to facilitate these changes but socioeconomics and politics are still lagging behind, as usual. Plus, it’s hard to change people’s views on long-held concepts such as property, ownership and the nation-state. But maybe during our lifetimes, we’ll get to see the day when, instead of debating the rights of national citizens versus aliens, we’ll be debating the rights of Earth citizens versus actual extraterrestrials. Now that’d be a debate worth having. =D

    5 years ago
    • You’re into weightlifting and asceticism. Seems like we’d be friends :D

      5 years ago
      • You do realize we’re basically alternate universe versions of each other, right? Haha. If you go read the first comment I ever made, it was back in the 90‘s Kids Tag post where I remarked how uncannily similar our childhoods were; however, it would appear that I’m the Bizarro to your Superman. You’re a North American living in Korea and I’m a Korean living in North America, and you got your sh*t together in high school, graduated with an advanced degree from UofT, married the amazing Martina and started a successful business together, while I…let’s just say I went the COMPLETE opposite direction hahaha. I’ve always found the juxtaposition of our stark similarities and differences fascinating.

        5 years ago
    • “…and other than my car, you can fit the rest of my belongings — furniture included — in a medium-sized bathroom.”

      Clarification: a medium-sized bathroom…in a small apartment. Haha. I just realized some people may be thinking, “DANG, a whole bathroom? He can fit a whole lot of sh*t in there!” :)

      5 years ago
  20. Living abroad sure changes a lot of things xD I was born in Germany to a Polish mother and Russian father. I lived in Germany until I was 9 and then we moved to Canada. We lived in Canada for 5 and a half years before my parents decided to move back to Germany. That decision changed my life forever. I always thought we’d stay in Canada and I’d be able to finish school and start my own life and stuff. But things never go according to plan haha. To this day I miss Canada(I’m 16 now. It’s been around a year and a half of living in Germany). I just fell in love with the country, the people, the nature. Everything. Germany just doesn’t compare. It’s not that I don’t like it here, I do, but I just liked it better in Canada.
    Those 5 years in Canada changed me and my view on a lot of things. Sometimes I wonder what kind of person I would have been now if we had stayed in Germany.

    5 years ago
  21. I know this feeling so well – constantly being a foreigner whenever you are. You know, one day at the German class at the University they gave us an assignment to write an essay about what was Motherland for us.
    And for the first time in my life I realized that I don’t have one. Technically – I do, but in fact it’s so complicated.
    I am Russian/Armenian but I was born in Azerbaijan. The fun part started right after I was born. When I was 1 year old my whole family had to immigrate to Russia, because the civil waк between Armenians and Azerbaijani people started. We literally could be killed just because I had an Armenian blood (this actually happened to my mom’s friend – her whole family was slaughtered during that time). It’s been already 26 years, but I still can’t go there. The funny thing is – my family lived in Azerbaijan for generations, they don’t know Armenian, they have always spoken Russian only, and this is the fact why me being half-Armenian is actually not accepted in Armenia :) Legally I can go there, but I don’t know the language, and the locals expect me to know it, otherwise they think that I embarrass them by my ignorance. On the other hand I am constantly feeling like a foreigner in Russia, despite the fact that I was brought up here, I finished school here, I graduated from the University here and I identify myself as Russian. But I don’t look like a typical Russian – I have black hair, brown eyes and southern features, so people constantly “make” a foreigner of me, confuse me with one, sometimes I hear racist jokes about the color of my hair… so it’s really complicated :)
    My point is there is no place on Earth where I feel myself fully accepted and I’ve embraced that. You just become a foreigner for everybody :)

    5 years ago
  22. I am a Mexican-American born and raised in California. Since I was a baby my family would take an annual vacation to my parent’s two home cities of Zacatecas and Mexico City in Mexico. However, these trips grew less and less frequent due to financial issues. So when I was thirteen I terribly missed my mother who had been living in Tijuana, BC for many years at this point. I thought I could handle living in Mexico since I had visited so often as a child. If anyone reading this has never been to Tijuana, I wish you to never visit. Please see the far more beautiful cities of Mexico. Tijuana is right below the U.S-Mexico border in California (Hence the BC. Baja California which translates to Below California), and it is a an incredibly poor city. I believe all the people who have some ties to the US (like my mother who was deported and lived there only in hopes of being closer to her family in the US) got stuck in that city at some point and cant get out. The crime is horrible, the filth is impermeable. You’ve never seen anything like Tijuana. There are no houses there, shacks or make-shift apartments are more like it. There is no smog check, and if you are on the San Ysidro freeway and manage to spot the Mexican Flag in downtown Tijuana you might mistake the smog for an ominous dark presence warning you to turn back. Among the lack of toilets, showers, jobs, and the feeling of security and safety: I only lasted a month. I experienced so much in Tijuana. When I returned to home in California I was overwhelmed by glee at the stream of water coming from a shower faucet and the flush of a toilet. It’s crazy how safe I felt by having such insignificant walls and door locks against the outside world, and even though I know there are bad people everywhere, the people in California aren’t driven to madness by desperateness. That fateful trip to Tijuana is possibly the best and worst experience of my young life. Although I am already seventeen, and years have gone by, I am still affected by the changes Tijuana made in me. So to everyone who has immigrant parents: you be better be damn grateful that your parents made the sacrifices they did.

    5 years ago
  23. I actually moved to Canada (sort of against my will lol) with my Mom, her husband who is really annoying, and my two little sisters. I thought to myself “Ok Self, you’ll be ok. It’s just Canada, how different could that possibly be from the U.S?” Well it turns out, that really most of Canada, like Ontario and Alberta and BC, is very much like the U.S, but we didn’t move to “normal” Canada. Oh no. See the first place we lived was NORTHERN LABRADOR in a tiny-ass mining town 300 miles from the next real town. It was probably one of the worst experiences of my life lol. It was empty and you couldn’t find normal clothes or food, and everything was SO EXPENSIVE! For the first time in our lives my mom and sisters and I had decent money thanks to her annoying husband instead of being really poor like we had always been, but we still couldn’t afford anything! After five months of hell in the near-tundra-boreal-forest wilds, my mom couldn’t take it anymore and we moved into a tiny condo in Montreal- Where we expected life to be much more normal. I can say that it was definitely better than Labrador, however… Quebec(no offense to Quebecers) is special. When we moved there, we were open minded, my mom knew French, and we thought it would be ok. To say the least, it wasn’t ok. It seemed like everywhere we went, we encountered French people who seemed hell-bent on destroying us because my baby sisters and I didn’t know any French. We were treated like filth, basically, even though we made constant efforts to please these people. I also could understand NOTHING of what was ever going on around me and I had( and still have) no friends. We moved to rural Quebec last summer where the angry, anti-English attitude is everywhere. It’s driven me to the edge- not to mention I’m now 17 and I’m stuck living on a mountain that’s a twenty minute drive to anything interesting. I cannot wait to turn 18 and get out of here.

    I don’t mean to sound like a complete downer, after all there are some really great things about Quebec and Canada, but the anti-US, anti-Enlgish stuff has really gotten to me and I’m really tired of making an effort anymore. This whole experience really made me realize just how much I appreciate the U.S. I known it wasn’t the moving around that got to me here, I’ve moved over 11 times in my life- not including across town moves. I’m used to being to new places and adapting. But man this was the toughest move I’ve ever had to make. I really can’t wait to go home.

    5 years ago
    • I’ve been living in Quebec all my life and I can’t wait to get out of here. And guess what? I’m actually a French Quebecer.

      I cannot stand all the hatred towards anything that isn’t francophone. And I won’t even talk about Quebec politics which is as evenly depressing. Ever since I’m 13 years old, I want to move out of Quebec.

      I studied to an English Cegep (you know, thanks to the law 101, kids from French-speaking parents cannot study in middle/high school in English T_T) and some of my friends were trying to convincing me that I was going to “loose my French” (permets-moi un gros LOL).

      Quebecers as a people are so closed-minded and Quebec nationalism can often be considered as racism. It’s sad. Really.

      Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that I feel your pain and I wish you luck. Trust me, thousands of French Quebecers are quitting Quebec because of those very two reasons every year. Of course, there are tons of people who are open-minded here, but sadly, the intolerant ones are the most vocals…

      I hope that with the Internet this attitude will change over time, but I honestly have very little hope for Quebec’s future…

      5 years ago
      • That’s sad. :( Speaking as an Ontarian anglophone, I love Quebec and the French twist it adds to Canada. I enjoyed learning French in school and I couldn’t imagine this country without them. English Canada has not done the best with the French in the course of history and if they had, maybe things would be so much better.

        5 years ago
    • I’ve traveled up to Labrador, via Newfoundland. That is one desolate place, with tiny trees. We visited Red Harbor.

      I had a girlfriend from Quebec, and I lived with her in Quebec for one summer. After being called an “Anglo” for months, I finally blew up at my girlfriend (and her best friend) and said, “Look, I grew up in California as a surfer, and we never even heard of French speaking Canadians.” I broke up with her while we were living in India.

      She was bitching at a party in Thailand about how Americans don’t speak a second language. Finally an Italian spoke up and said, “At this party we have people from Canada, Italy, Germany, Thailand, etc., and what language are we all speaking? My American friend told me all he needs is one language, and when you’re right you’re right.”

      I’ve lived in Italy, India, Mexico, etc., and I would be hard pressed to pick a second language to learn. I told my girlfriend from Quebec I would learn French if we got married, but not before then.

      I’ve settled in Oregon, and I have no use for a second language at all.

      5 years ago
  24. This is probably a silly question, but why not just order stuff online? Like can’t you go to Macy’s online store or whatever or even on Amazon and have stuff delivered to Korea? Or is that not possible?

    5 years ago
    • It’s possible, but the shipping is prohibitively expensive, and many times gets caught up in customs for even more moneys.

      5 years ago
    • Buying things online is possible, I think in previous videos Simon and Martina mentioned that they would buy some “health foods” online because it was cheaper. But I am sure shipping is more and they don’t qualify for the ever loved “free shipping” that most people get. Plus, have you ever bought bras online? Not the best thing to do unless you can get the free shipping and free returns

      5 years ago
  25. My family moved to Austria from Russia when I was just 2 years old. The first couple we traveled between Russia, Israel and Austria. Later I went to international schools. I’ve always been part of an international community, so I am actually more confused by the thought of fitting in. Like being Russian in Russia or Austrian in Austria. It must be so boring!

    5 years ago
  26. I studied abroad for five months in Spain and I really learned a lot.
    The most important lesson, I think, is realizing just how large to world is, and just how small I am and how my culture is not in any way superior to the others. That’s not something you learn by living in one place.
    And I also realized how widely cultures vary, how widely perspectives can be different. This greater awareness of the world I live in is really the most important lesson I learned being abroad.

    5 years ago
  27. Is it possible to feel like an outsider in your home country? My father was in the U.S. military until I was 19 years old, and I was born overseas.
    I was born in southern Germany and even though I lived on the military base, I went to schools were German was the primary language. The first half of my life I was bilingual (English/German) until we moved to the U.S. when I was almost 10. My primary years were in Germany, and I’ve visited a few times since then until my passport expired in 2007.

    Language, mannerisms, and such are pretty different in the U.S. and it took me a while to adjust. Even to this day, I tend to slip up either in my speech (occasionally I’ll slip out a German or French phrase, much to everyone’s confusion), or my mannerisms are either too demure or too over-the-top (and for the U.S., that’s saying A LOT). Even though I spent a good chunk of my life in the U.S. now, I still tend to feel like an outsider.

    What shocks me, though, is when I tell people this. Especially when it comes to race relations. I’m a black woman and it confuses my friends when I tell them I hate the constant worry of looking over my shoulder…something I’ve only picked up after living in the U.S.

    Honestly, I’m looking to move back overseas, because the U.S. is just getting too hectic for me as I get older. :<

    5 years ago
    • My uncle is in the military in southern Germany… His son was born there a few years ago, and seems to be on the same life path as you. My family often talks about what my cousin will have to go through as he gets older. Will he ever come to the US? Will he stay in Germany? Will he have identity issues regardless of location and just from his mixed parentage? It was interesting to read some of your experiences having a similar background.

      5 years ago
    • I was born and raised in Miami, but look like a typical southern girl (blonde hair, blue eyes). Most of the time, people from miami won’t believe I’m from there which sucks to be denied by the place you were born, and it’s such a unique culture and atmosphere that even driving 2 hours north feels like you’re in a foreign country.

      In essence, I am denied by the place I was born and raised because technically I am a minority there. The rest of the US where people assume I’m from feels like a foreign country with people just expecting me to be OK.

      In the end, if I have to feel like a foreigner, I better be a COMPLETE foreigner, which is why I am leaving the US, and will be moving to Korea within the next several months. I’d much rather be a foreigner in a foreign country than feel like a foreigner in my own.

      5 years ago
      • It seems that Florida has a weird “native” community. Most people are not actually born and raised in Florida, but you can usually tell if they are from Florida if they have a thick “southern accent.”

        And DisneyHunny your story is kind-of the opposite of my boss. She is a super pale white Irish girl who was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Her mother and father served in the army, and spent most of her childhood in Puerto Rico. No one would even think of it since she doesn’t have an accent (she is fairly old now). I always find it a little odd since I know people who are Puerto Ricans living in the US, and they struggle because of the color of their skin. It is really embarrassing seeing how people treat each other differently because of the color of their skin.

        5 years ago
  28. I remember a time when i stay in china(village) for a month to visit my maternal grandmother .everything was different,there are lots of habits i have to change . Like for example the toilet have cubical but no doors and is located outside ,there are no flushing
    (imagine im taking a no.2 and the winter breeze just carassing my butt cheeks t_t) ….
    there is no running water , you have to draw water from the well with tubes to a big tank to use water .I live in singapore where everything is so fast pace but when im back at my mother’s hometown , everything is so slow . Like the day when past really really slow ,its a cool experience but most of the time im bored cox im used to everything being fast …

    5 years ago
  29. In a couple of months, I’ll be heading to China to study/intern for a year. While that’s not a long time in the grand scheme of things, I feel a little like you guys do after just a couple months in China, so I’m not sure how being away for even longer will change my POV, but I’m looking forward to being there and seeing how I grow/change. ^-^b

    5 years ago
  30. Yay! First message ever on the EYK website, even though I’ve watched your videos since ~2011

    Please ignore my other message, I sent it by mistake and can’t delete it.

    I can totally relate to 99% of what you’re saying. Actually, I’ve been living in Taiwan for almost 4 years, and now I’m back home in France, like every summer. Being an expat can be the best experience ever or the worst, depending on the day.

    The hardest part for me is going back home. You want to share your experience with people around you, but that’s mostly impossible. You can’t express the general feeling of living abroad with just words, and in people’s mind it’s like you just went on an extended holiday. I can’t blame anyone for going on with their lives and not being the most curious about the small details of a culture they’re not especially interested in, but sometimes it gets so frustrating because you need to share!
    And the worst is the feeling of being a foreigner in your own country, you have been living in a different culture and it’s made you evolve to a whole different level. Not a “better” one, just different, because everything in your new country is always so tricky. Your life now revolves around freids from a whole lot of countries, the constant search for food you like, learning new word in chinese (or Korean ;) ), converting currencies, TV shows that don’t exist in your home country … People from your home town just can’t understand that and that’s why reverse culture shock is so hard.

    It’s kinda hard to be reminded that I’m an outsider all the time, but Taipei is home to me now and I’m not leaving anytime soon!

    5 years ago
    • Welcome to the comment section! Hope to see you around more in the future :D

      5 years ago
      • I was wondering how long would you like to live in Korea and if you plan on having kids would you want to stay there and raise the or go back to Canada!?! Also, love you guys,,,,, I have fallen in love with Korean culture/kpop. Not many Korean restaurants in Kansas City, Is. so haven’t had a chance to try much food. But I am planning on going there in a year or two. Thanks for introducing me to so many new things. I even got my kids ( teenagers 15,16,17) interested in some new things!!✌✌

        5 years ago
  31. The subject of impermanence is actually a very important one in Buddhism. The idea of not letting yourself get too attached to anything because nothing is permanent. It is taught in Buddhism through the making of Mandala Sand Art. Monks in training spend hours making sand art that is made just to be blown away and made over again to teach impermanence. Change is inevitable, death is inevitable and so impermanence is a very important lesson that, really, everyone should learn!

    5 years ago
  32. I’m from Noray, and lived in Seoul for 4 months last year while I was taking a semester abroad.

    To me, everything was so different. I’m a norwegian girl, and not used to the culture at all. No matter how much I read about it, watched YouTube videos or tried to figure out how to prepare, I don’t think it helped much, because I still had major cultural shock for a long time after arriving.
    Anyways. The biggest things that I took for granted back home is the weather, which was much hotter than Im used to in the Korean summer. I basically nearly died every day just going outside. When colder October finally came, I was getting more comfortable. Also another big thing was how in Korea there are so many different kinds of shops. In Norway most shops are chains, because the privately owned smaller shops/family shops can’t survive in the Norwegian market, because the chains will squish them. So this was a good thing, because I got to be a consumer in a much broader market, with a lot more diversity. I miss it a lot.
    Aaand last thing of course is the people. I found it quite hard to interact with korean students in my school, and never actually made a korean friend while living there. So coming back home to a country where 15% of the population is immigrants, and 32% of my city is immigrants, I can finally understand a lot of what they are coming from. What used to be annoyance, has now become empathy, and I feel like I’ve become a better person from it.

    I think all people who get the opportunity should try and live in a different culture for a while, just to gain that perspective. I had no idea that my perspective would change so much, but I feel like I grew up a lot while trying to survive (I know this sounds very harsh, but living there alone was very tough!!) in a completely different country with a very foreign culture.

    5 years ago
    • Aww! I’m so sad to hear about chains crushing smaller shops in Norway. For some reason, I felt in my heart like Norway would be a better place for small businesses. I don’t know why.

      5 years ago
  33. There’s so much to say on this topic! I just finished my second year of living overseas but I know I will probably be abroad for so much longer. I think it changes everything but especially it changes your relationships. It’s sad but in ways I find it really hard to relate to people back home now, and if I make new friends or get in a relationship, one of the key factors is that the other person really must be someone who knows how to live in a different culture because I think it does so much to grow you as a person. I said that I find it hard to relate to people back home, and I think that’s for two reasons. One is that “back home” seems to never change. People are still dealing with the same issues they had when I left and they’re so caught up in their own tiny world. It’s sad to say that it bores me. I’d rather talk about international issues or, I don’t know, something bigger than small town gossip. And the other reason why it’s hard to relate is because no matter how hard I try, I can never fully explain what it is like to live life in Korea or China to my friends and family. And to be honest sometimes it feels like my friends and family back home don’t even want to try to understand. They’d rather talk to me about their lives when I visit because at least I already have the framework to understand that much. So for the most part, I do a lot of listening. It’s weird but beyond the first day, like you said, the questions about life abroad kinda just stop. It’s a weird life we expats live. I enjoy it, but it’s not what I expected.

    5 years ago
  34. I’m fully German, but my parents move to England when I was, like, a titchy tiny blob of baby fat. I grew up bilingually, German & English respectively, and I never missed Germany. I mean, how could I? I had never really been there, except for holidays to visit family. And back then, it was exactly that. Holidays.
    When I was 8, my mom, my bro and me moved back to Germany (leaving my dad. But I’ll not delve deep into problematic family issues here, no worries XD) I guess I was still to young, I mean EIGHT years old, that’s… like I barely knew how to behave in a proper fashion and all that jazz. So I can’t say I really missed England. Except for the food. German food is kinda…. eh. And rather low quality for the price. But anyway. I’m getting off track. There’s nothing I really profoundly missed and still miss, since I was too young to really fully understand what the hell was happening, and who are those weird people talking to me with their horrible “schwäbisch”? (a German dialect. MAN, was that hard to get used to, if you’ve only ever heard “normal” German. Holy cheeseballs) The only thing I regret is losing contact with my first best friend. I don’t know why she was my friend though. I was a precocious little brat.
    My changes? I don’t know, probably that I can speak two languages fluently, and that I’m more open to explore new things. The things I miss: FOOD, and the general “Englishness”

    I discovered you and your videos a few months ago, and they made me fall completely in love with Korea! I feel like I have to go there as soon as possible. I want to travel a lot, and learn lot’s of different languages as well! Thank you for making this particular video, and being all deep and philosophical and shit. :P It made me think!

    Liebe Grüße aus Deutschland! <3

    P.S. This seems kinda foreboding and … yeah. Somehow. Are you guys planning on making a life-altering change? Like moving somewhere? Or is just the upcoming Canada visit of yours making me jumpy…. Maybe I need some sunlight as well.

    5 years ago
    • I think I may be the opposite of you. I spent my formative years in Germany (I was born in Nürnburg, then spent a year in Heidelberg), then I moved to the U.S. and I’ve been wanting to move back.

      And have you tried American food? Everything so salty and so…much…sugar. My family has always thought I was weird for liking other cuisines (less sugar. I mean, a LOT of sugar goes into U.S. food. It’s disgusting!) but there’s a reason my health tends to be on the better side when it comes to food. Plus I just love food. :)

      I agree with you on schwäbisch. D: I can’t stand/understand that dialect. I hated it when I lived in & visted Hiedelberg…

      5 years ago
      • XD I feel like a foreigner in my own country when it comes to foods, but then again it depends on where you live. I think I would love eating out in California since they have very simple foods. I don’t eat out often so I forget what “american food” taste like, until I eat at my sisters. SOOO sweet. I stopped eating her desserts. (well it helps when your vegan too) Anytime I make desserts for the family the first thing she says is “it could be sweeter.”

        And for the record, it all depends where you are in the US and where you are eating. I find the country side has big portions, more starch and meats on the menu. Italian American restaurants have OBSENE portions. I hate eating at Italian restaurants because of this, oh and because everything needs some sort of combination of meat, cheese, pasta, and tomato sauce. It boggles my mind when I see people eat donuts and pastries for breakfast, or when people get excited about bacon, but I think that can be said about any country, right?

        5 years ago
      • It’s not that I don’t like Germany! No, no, no. I love it, but you miss what you don’t have right? :)

        I agree completely with you on the topic of American food. I haven’t been to the U.S. yet, but from what I’ve heard the amount of sugar and fat that is in most of the food is humongous. (But I would love to try a real american burger sometime… Yumm…) Yet, I suppose you can find healthy, “normal” food there too, right? Yes, different cuisines for the win! I like to try everything, Thai, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, they’re all wonderful! Food is love, food is life. <3

        I've gotten used to schwäbisch, and sometimes it can sound pretty cute, but I like Hochdeutsch the best. Bayerisch is also pretty cool. :D

        5 years ago
  35. I definitely had a lot of these same thoughts living in Korea. Sometimes you do feel like a guest, and other times you kind of feel like an unwelcome guest. There is a definite impermanence to the situation.

    Friendships were the thing that I found most interesting when you’re an expat. I made some great friends there, and I found that the processes of cultivating friendships with people is different when you know you’re going to leave at some point. I think it moves a lot faster, and you learn to be much more open to befriending new people. I think this is partially because you need to have some people you connect with in a foreign place, but also because you know your time with them is limited, so you make the most of it. I still keep in touch with the people I met in Korea (both Koreans and other expats) and I feel like we have a bond that I could never have with someone I meet here in America. It’s a really neat thing to have that connection. :)

    5 years ago
  36. I am currently studying abroad in Scotland and it really does give you a new sense of time. When you’re somewhere else you want to experience everything that place has to offer, but when you are back home you don’t necessarily do much of anything. You are stuck in your daily routine and don’t feel the time crunch living abroad offers you. You know there is only a limited amount of time and you want to make the most of it.

    I do feel very out of place in Scotland, I love it here I really do, but there are so many simple things that I just don’t know. For example, washing my wands. Who would have thought this would be something that I wouldn’t know how to do in a foreign country? Isn’t it the same everywhere? Nope. There are separate faucets for the scorching hot water and freezing cold water, unlike any other place I have ever been.

    I am more adventurous abroad too. Like I said earlier, I want to experience everything, so when I go to the supermarket and see a bunch of snacks I’ve never heard of I buy them. I tried haggis for the first time and actually liked it!

    I’ve been abroad before and the re-entry back into my home country was the hardest part. I felt like I had had this profound experience but my friends were not all that excited to hear about it or even understand why it was hard for me to be back home. Even now living in Scotland, I miss the conventions of being completely comfortable in a familiar society but I also love living here as opposed to ‘home.’ All in all I have lived in around 10 different homes in my two decades of life on Earth. All different places, some rural, some suburban, some south, some north. I don’t really feel like I fit in anywhere anymore and no matter where I go, I will always be an outsider.

    5 years ago
    • I really want to move somewhere and work in my field of graphic design, I’ve always had some issues with depression, but not as of lately. I’m nervous to move away because of this but at the same time excited. I don’t know how to go about finding work or how to find out about living. Do you have any advice? Thx :):):):) Tyler

      5 years ago
  37. I relate to ALL OF THIS! I lived in South Africa for a year and a half where I started a non-profit and I’m moving back there next year. I have converted all my books to Kindle, reduced my belongings down to one tiny room full, and in essence made my life very portable. The hardest part for me coming back to the States was, in South Africa, I lived in an area of extreme poverty, it made it very difficult to have compassion for people who would complain to me that their internet or cable stopped working for a few hours, or they had to wait an extra 5 minutes in the drive thru line for their food, etc…
    But I also absolutely love the freedom I have to know that I could just pick up and move anywhere at any given time. It’s a great feeling!

    5 years ago
    • I don’t need to experience extreme poverty to not be sympathetic when people complain about things like that. XD

      5 years ago
  38. 10/10 agree with this! I studied in New Zealand in college and people saw it as some extended vacation. No. I was going to school like everyone else there my age, paying rent and utilities, cooking my food and not having room service, replacing that underwear when it rips (I’m with you Martina!).

    Granted, the differences between the US (where I’m from) and New Zealand aren’t as big as between Canada and Korea so my experience was probably easier, but it’s hard to explain readjustment and the tendency to compare EVERYTHING. It’s also where I got my Username (Kiwi) because when I came back, I had unexpectedly acquired an accent and was using words that aren’t commonly used in the States but were very common in New Zealand.

    I will say that going to a University in another country (with much higher standards for self-motivation) made my “home” University seem like elementary school.

    After that experience, I very much realized how much we take for granted about not having things that we are used to having at home. I went over before online shopping was really a thing, so if there was something I needed I usually realized I could live without it and changed the “need” to “am accustomed to”. Now that I’m back in the States, I send things to friends living abroad that they can’t get where they are. I’m sending some American peanut butter to New Zealand in exchange for Tim Tams. You guys want some bread?! ;)

    5 years ago
  39. I’m currently living in Ukraine, and for the next two weeks I’m back in the UK on a holiday to see family. It’s been one of the most surreal experiences in my life, coming home – although there wasn’t a huge ‘culture shock’ that I could really feel when I began living abroad, the changes became hugely apparent when I landed back here.

    I can really sympathise with some of the points in the blog post as well – using a Kindle especially! I love collecting books and bringing them with me to Ukraine was not an option and I can’t really let myself buy them there either because… well, eventually I’ll have to make the decision whether to move back or not and I don’t really want to leave anything behind if I do decide to go back to the UK. So the lack of real material collections is a big one, as well as getting used to all the different food brands, social ettiquette and naturally switching main day-to-day language. Luckily I don’t stand out from first glance as being an expat but it’s pretty obvious as soon as I open my mouth.

    However, I wouldn’t change a thing and even just being back in the UK on holiday has made me miss Ukraine a lot. There’s really nothing that I can pinpoint through words, but the two countries just have such different atmospheres, such different ways of living – not enough to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but enough that I can’t really kid myself that living in the UK is really that similar to where I live now. I’m looking forward to continuing my expat life there hopefully for a few more years yet.

    Thank you for the video and blog post, they were really interesting… especially given my current circumstances, but in general as well. Korea must be pretty different from Canada so learning how you guys have dealt with the same issues was weirdly comforting!

    5 years ago
    • Oh man I agree. You can’t explain a country/culture to some one. You can only live it. I get extremely homesick some days and it’s the hardest thing to handle and explain to some one. I miss the grass, I miss the sky so much I cry. I miss the smells I can’t name. The faces I can’t describe but will recognize the same features on some one else’s face immediately. It’s such a vulnerable thing to feel.

      5 years ago
      • Exactly! I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels the same way. It’s led to a few frustrating conversations, especially when people ask me which country I prefer. They’re just different, and without even visiting, there’s no common ground I can find with them. But I try!

        5 years ago
  40. I grew up in Korea and never lived outside of this country until I turned 21. And since I’m half German and thus look like a foreigner here, I never really felt like I was part of this society- which is why I couldn’t WAIT to move to Germany, to England, to anywhere outside of Korea.
    And when I did, I loved it. For the first year, I had absolutely no homesickness at all- and then I found you guys on youtube. And boy, did I start missing Korea.

    Now I’m back in Korea for my PhD studies. And as much as I have learned to appreciate my home country, I have also realized that I will never be happy living in just one country for the rest of my life. When I’m here, I miss Europe- when I’m there, I miss Korea. Which is weird, since I grew up thinking that I would be totally satisfied once I moved to Europe and would only ever have to visit Korea every once in a while to satiate my appetite for real Korean food…

    5 years ago