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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Busan, Korea

Busan, Korea

We immediately loved the friendliness of the people here and actually got more frustrated with the other foreigners who didn't appreciate what was around them.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?


Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?


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If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?

No, We can read it, I have learned while we are here. We am currently doing our best to learn to speak

Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?

No, We didn't even think about it.

How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

Our adrenaline was so high at the beginning we didn't experience it at first. But, over time...especially when we were tired we did have a few meltdowns (mostly my wife :)

Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?

Not at all... we immediately loved the friendliness of the people here and actually got more frustrated with the other foreigners who didn't appreciate what was around them.

What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.

Patience, Acceptance, Tolerance, the ability to stop questioning everything.

What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?

The smiles of the people, the helpful attitudes that many have after just struggling with a simple Korean hello. Most will help you with anything.

The ability to bend over backwards running around like nuts to help you and then in the end, nothing was really done. (here instead of just doing A to B, they do A, D, F, Z, N, Q, H, then B)

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Remembering that you chose to live abroad. Stop comparing and embrace where you are.

Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!

We plead the 5th.

Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?

Check out our blog for 18 of the best tips we can give you for going abroad. Here are some examples.

11. A wise coworker once told me, “Never ask a why question (if your boss is Korean), chances are you won’t get a direct answer or the same answer twice. Just go with the flow, it will save you a whole lot of frustration. Instead, just ask yourself, “why not?”

16. Always carry a small thing of toilet tissue in your purse; most public restrooms have rolls out by the entry door to the bathroom. Be sure to grab a good handful before going into the stall. Otherwise I think you may be setting yourself up for an interesting sequence of nasty events.

18. Finally, remember that English is a whole lot more universal than Hangul. Therefore, even though you may not think so….pssst…they know when your are taking a verbal dump on their country more times than not. So, choose your words wisely and if you feel the need to vent…don’t do it in public.

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Comments about this Report

Mar 13, 2013 16:32

Waw I have already been In Busan , I stayed there for three months and It is very beautiful city wiht great Heartistic people-I just love it and looking forward to go there again:)

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