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Living in Asia? (Korea, Japan, etc)


WinterBlues
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I have been thinking a lot of moving abroad - this is just an idea for me, I'd love to go even for a month to live in Seoul in South Korea. 

I was wondering if anyone had lived or even visited Japan, Korea, etc? What were your views on it? What did you like/dislike most about these places?

 

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Well, I've never actually visited Asia but I do have a cousin who married to a man in Japan. She says she likes, but the culture took her a long time to get used to because its way way different than the US when it comes to women and such. 

I also did have an exchange student from Japan several years back and the shock she faced was interesting but also a massive eye opener towards school life here versus in Japan. Like schools here, especially high school, if you belong on a sports team, you're there to compete and go for a scholarship for college, there is no "having fun" or to "play for fun". It made her sad and I did try to warn her. She tried for the volley ball team and quit about 2 weeks in because of how competitive it was. Also, she was amazed by all the... space, for lack of a better of a word. She thought our 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 1 livingroom and dining space was a mansion... mind you this is all one floor and quite the average size for a large family with pets. There was a lot of things that sadden her here as well and we didn't quite understand that until after she left and she wrote back to us. It was something she couldn't admit to us in person, but she said she didn't like how disrespectful much of our society was and that students didn't appear to care for the well-being of their elders or the places they went. She didn't like the lack of interest in cleanliness in our buildings and she really hated our school system and was shocked to know things like how we are allowed to use calculators in elementary school when they can't use them till college and only on homework.

As much I have thought about living overseas and was even born overseas, I probably wouldn't choose a place from Asia. I love the culture and the arts over there, but certain aspects of life I know I wouldn't be able to deal with being a woman myself. 

If I could live overseas, I'd probably choose a place that is more suited what I am used to and know I can accept, so I actually often think about New Zealand or the Netherlands. 

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@Aminirus Thank you for the post!

That's a really interesting perspective. I am from the UK and both the UK and USA are similar in our values concerning a great many things e.g school, women, relationships, etc. I think that's why I want more of a culture shock? I believe that Japan especially is a lot more respectful to one another and considering that Seoul (S. Korea) has one of the lowest crime rates in the world (women can walk alone at 4am and feel safe) but here in the UK you don't feel that sort of safety. 

I also thought about the Netherlands but it's too 'Westernized' for my taste? I just think I want a culture shock lol! 

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Look up vlogs on YT for other Europeans/Westerners living in the countries you're interested in. Or even natives just vlogging their life there, though I feel it might be more relateable to have someone who was where you're from talking about their experiences.

Wherever you end up thinking of going, definitely try picking up some of the language before you go. Like Japan for example, even knowing one word: "sumimasen" (which means various things, like 'thank you', 'excuse me', 'I'm sorry', etc.) can make a big difference. It's not 100% necessary to know a lot, I mean, when I visited Japan, I knew only a couple words, phrases, and kanji, and my brother and his friends knew nothing, and we all got around just fine. It's just that the more you know, obviously the easier things will be for you.

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I am living in Asia- Singapore, more specifically.

And there's not really any similairities with the US or UK as far as I can tell. Sure, the country is pretty Westernized to a point I get shit from locals and elders for speaking what they consider "really good English" from time to time. They also assume I'm from another country. Or they just insult me for not being able to speak Mandarin too well. >_> Language isn't a problem though, nearly everyone here speaks English. If you're willing to pick up the local slang (Singlish) you're gonna go far.

Our homes are pretty compact. Then again, it kinda has to be since about 4 million people live in Singapore. And we're a tiny ass city-state on an island. Majority of the population here lives in HDB (Housing Development Block) apartments. Other (and more expensive) choices would be condominiums and bungalows. Forewarning though, in the recent years, they've been installing a fuck ton of CCTVs around. And your neighbours are eyes too.

I have been told our education system is more... Ridiculous? Like it's significantly more challenging than other places. But... Eh, I don't really have much proof or experience myself.

Safety wise, Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. I literally have never heard of anyone doing drugs here. The most I've seen are drunkards (not much of a problem now, since you can't be seen drinking alcohol in public past 10.30pm anymore). If I'm not wrong, having possession of drugs, especially a significant amount, could lead to a death sentence? But I may have to re-read a bit about that.

 

Mmm... What else can I add? I was thinking pets and how many bloody restrictions there are here.

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On 4/25/2017 at 8:53 PM, jakdacrowe said:

If I'm not wrong, having possession of drugs, especially a significant amount, could lead to a death sentence?

Well that would be why no one does drugs!! 

I've never been to Asia, but I just wanted to throw in something about the political landscape. There are a lot of rumors flying in recent months about North Korea and how I think they basically hold South Korea hostage. I'm not super familiar with the situation but I know U.S. soldiers in that vicinity and it makes me really nervous for them. 

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Just now, Syntax said:

I've never been to Asia, but I just wanted to throw in something about the political landscape. There are a lot of rumors flying in recent months about North Korea and how I think they basically hold South Korea hostage. I'm not super familiar with the situation but I know U.S. soldiers in that vicinity and it makes me really nervous for them. 

I... Haven't been keeping up with news at all.
But I am worried for my friend's parents who are living there as ambassadors.

As far as I know, it's kinda iffy and frankly downright scary as they can see the fucking ships in the ocean from their house, but they have a bag prepped and ready to go in-case their country's government hears anything stupid from the US.

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17 minutes ago, jakdacrowe said:

I... Haven't been keeping up with news at all.
But I am worried for my friend's parents who are living there as ambassadors.

As far as I know, it's kinda iffy and frankly downright scary as they can see the fucking ships in the ocean from their house, but they have a bag prepped and ready to go in-case their country's government hears anything stupid from the US.

North Korea has always been threatening but the threat always seemed 'farther down the road' so to speak. Trump wants to look like a stronger world leader than his predecessor though so I'm not sure what's going to happen but I agree it does look scary. 

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On 4/25/2017 at 2:30 PM, WinterBlues said:

@Aminirus Thank you for the post!

That's a really interesting perspective. I am from the UK and both the UK and USA are similar in our values concerning a great many things e.g school, women, relationships, etc. I think that's why I want more of a culture shock? I believe that Japan especially is a lot more respectful to one another and considering that Seoul (S. Korea) has one of the lowest crime rates in the world (women can walk alone at 4am and feel safe) but here in the UK you don't feel that sort of safety. 

I also thought about the Netherlands but it's too 'Westernized' for my taste? I just think I want a culture shock lol! 

Lol, well, I'm sure where ever you choose, you'll get what you're seeking :3 

I know what it's like to fall into culture shock. I had it when I was only 6 years old when I was brought back from Latvia to the states. The difference in just about everything is quite amazing, though because of where my blood originates, i do have to be careful on certain matters. Nothing bad though, but at that age, due to the shock having to change just about every aspect of way of life that I knew before made me forget a lot of things, or just lock them away out of stress and trauma. 

I do know that where I came from is way different than it is in the states. The cities in Latvia are very old and the culture there is very family oriented, but the people can be quite polite and a bit quiet. It's not a rich country so much of its technology was still far far far away from that of the states. I can imagine they've caught up on a several things, but I'm sure its still a rather quiet country. 

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Thanks for everyones input HOWEVER, I really want to say that North and South Korea have been like this ever since they split apart. While tensions are high all over the world North Korea is now more focused on the US to show strength rather than the South. I don't believe they are that stupid to begin a war. 

I know someone from the South in my uni and I did ask them about this and they just shrugged and said the North Koreans have been doing this for years. Apparently it now feels like the boy who cried wolf! Hopefully though that's true and we won't see anything scary happen!

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My wife lived in Japan during High School. She grew up in a military family that was stationed there. As a note, she is Half-Japanese and Half-Caucasian. She was able to visit a wide area of Asia while she was there, she commented how South Korea was very much commercially driven as a culture, although the people were very accepting of really anyone. The food though.

She did go through culture shock when they moved to Japan. The Japanese as a culture are very welcoming, and are usually very open if you ask for directions or help. The biggest issue is that my mother-in-law is American-born Japanese (third-generation), and that created a little bit of culture shock, as the local Japanese women could not imagine how my mother-in-law did not know fluent Japanese, or how to navigate the cities or transit systems without help (not being able to read.) It took a while, but always left my mother-in-law feeling as left-out.

From my understanding, most of Asia is welcoming and friendly to tourism or visitors. I would assume visa's or staying for extended periods of times would vary in different countries and regions.

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@Digital Thank you! I guess being able to speak the language near fluently really is a must if you go out there. I could understand their feelings though if someone were to come over to the UK or USA and not speak a word of English and expect everyone else to speak their language? I am trying to learn Korean, perhaps Japanese next (5,000 characters in their alphabet apparently, no thank you lol) but I will see where it goes! 

The culture shock, especially the food is what I think would knock me most. Their food is so different to that of the UK and USA (which is believable) I mean, I watched a Vlog who said she craved pasta really badly but couldn't find anywhere to have it. I am sure there must be some Western restaurants and there is MacDonald's which apparently can be delivered to you lol 

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7 hours ago, WinterBlues said:

I guess being able to speak the language near fluently really is a must if you go out there.

It was more of the fact that my mother in-law looks Japanese and is Japanese, just born and raised here in California. So they assumed she knew everything as a local would. My wife, looking American, and being half was okay. Most Japanese can understand and communicate in English, or direct you to someone who can.

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  • 2 months later...

I just came back from staying for over a  month in Japan so now I can share my experience!

It was my first time visiting there but I decided not to go to very touristic areas to force me to practice the language more. Turns out even at the airport a lot of people barely speak English so it was a lifesaver to know the language a bit enough to ask for directions since my sim card didn't work.

People are usually very patient with you and will go above and beyond to help you. If you say hello to them they reply back, a little off guard sometimes but they do it XD

There was one time that the train stopped due to a malfunction and i didn't really understand the announcement (because my Japanese is not that good yet) and a man approached and kindly explained in English what was happening.

I also met a few neat people including an older lady who walks her old Corgi everyday on a wheelchair thing she modified because her dog can't walk. (I asked if I could take a picture of her and her dog because it was just too amazing)
IMG_20170606_171338067.thumb.jpg.b8737ab41a9ed3f3d09f0071e353b255.jpg

I met so many people, another time at a Dorayaki store I met the owner who kindly took me to a place I wanted to go to because it was a bit far by foot and even gave me some treats!  I did give him one of my drawings from my sketchbook as a thank you because he was just too nice.

And I met this illustrator at a life drawing session organized by Janica, she wanted to hang out afterwards and took me to a very local very small Izakaya where the owner gave us a HUGE meal for free (meat, a lot of sashimi, snacks, etc). .__.
IMG_20170616_200428277.thumb.jpg.4b0c7a93568c887dddc83114f41fff57.jpg

IMG_20170616_200209154.thumb.jpg.dd524e36e3d83713e27b9b817cc752c9.jpg
 

Another time at a very local bus on a small town in the middle of nowhere, a grandma (which she called herself) suddenly gave us tons of candy she took from her bag.

I have many stories that I want to illustrate at some point XD

Some people might speak English but if you really want to get to know people, (like mentioned above) it helps to know the language of the country you're going to travel to. You're not going to regret it.

Also, if you can watch videos and read about their culture (manners, etc) , that will be an awesome aid to you!

 

 

Edit: I really liked japan, but I stayed mostly on rural areas / small cities to avoid people. I hated Akihabara because there's too many people and it smells bad and it's noisy and I always get lost at the train station, but I wouldn't say it was a cultural thing. Mexico city is like that and that's why I don't like it either XD

 

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  • 4 months later...

I am a sucker for Japan and their culture, but actually living there I'm sure would be a cultural shock, no matter how much you may expect to be familiarized with any of it.

Having a friend to tag a long who speaks the language would give you a head-start in both developing a grasp of the language, culture as well as the surroundings, but I'm fairly certain considering how welcoming they are, it wouldn't be too too difficult to do either way.

That said, I've never been, but it's at the top of my bucket list in terms of travel destinations, but yes, I'd also be fairly willing to even live there based on what I've seen and learned over the years.

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