Adjusting to Korean Life - Keeping in Touch

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You have finally made the move to Korea! But what about keeping in touch with friends and family back home? You probably have many people that you wish to keep in touch with as you start your new life abroad. On the other hand, there might be people you would rather forget. Regardless, as easy as it is to connect to each other this day and age, people still find it difficult to keep in touch.

It takes effort on both sides to keep in touch, especially when there are oceans separating you. The time difference alone can be challenging to manage. There may be a 7, 13, or even 16+ hour difference between you and the other person. Since the time difference can be so large, having a consistent schedule for contacting your loved ones may make it easier on both parties. It is something to look forward to and you do not always have to wonder when the next time will be.

Another concern is that because you are living abroad, you are missing important friend or family events like birthdays or weddings. Will you be able to see your friends and family every time there is a big event? Realistically, no, but when you are able to go back, you can make it a point to see those friends and family members.

Methods to Keep in Touch in Relation to Korea

Snail mail/Care packages - Sending international mail and packages may be slow but sometimes it is the only way to receive food or other items that are hard to acquire in Korea. Sending letters and packages from Korea to your friends and family can also be a nice gesture. While it takes a longer period of time, Korea’s postal service still allows you to send packages by boat which is cheaper than airmail.

Email - The easiest, most simple, and probably quickest way besides messaging applications. Within Korea, free WiFi access is widely available in cafes, restaurants, bars, and even in some public outdoor areas. Therefore, sending a quick email home is an easy method to communicate when you are out and about.

Messaging Applications - You can, of course, continue to use whatever application you previously used in your home country to keep in touch with family and friends. However, within Korea, KakaoTalk is the most popular messaging application and can be used cross-platform. That is, it is available for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android OS, etc. Perhaps after your friends and family visit you in Korea, you can help them set up KakaoTalk for continued use even after they go back home.

Video/voice calls - There are also various applications used for video and voice calling. Many messaging applications support this feature. Skype, Facebook Messenger, and Google Hangouts are popular in the west. However, in Korea, many people use KakaoTalk, Line, and carrier provided video calling. You may even see people video calling as they are walking in the streets.

Telephoning - Telephoning back home may be hard due to international rates, although some mobile providers are making it easier to call internationally. I have used Skype credit in the past for calls abroad since you are able to call any phone line. Skype also has a call forwarding feature - when your contacts call you on Skype, the calls will be forwarded to your local phone number. While in many places telephoning each other is being overtaken by text messaging, within Korea, telephoning is still very popular. You see many people talking on the phone out in public and many businesses still use telephoning as their main customer service method.

Social Networking/Blogging - Many of my family members read my personal blog and keep up with me via social networks. Within Korea, blogging is very popular especially for things like restaurants and travel. Often blogs will be the top hits on Korean search engines when looking up information about a popular destination or restaurant. Popular Korean blog platforms include Naver, Cyworld, and Tistory.

On Having Visitors

How about having friends and family from your home country visiting you in Korea? Housing in Korea maybe smaller than what you are used to so it can be hard to accommodate guests in your own home. But when they do visit, guest houses are normally an affordable option. Local hotels are also commonly affordable but it can be difficult to know how well the staff can speak foreign languages. House sharing through websites like Airbnb are still an option although many countries, including Korea, are starting to more strictly regulate these house sharing services. Large western and Korean hotel chains are on the expensive side but boast various amenities and full service restaurants.

Keeping in Touch with Your Home Country

It can be expensive to visit your home country. It may be very infrequent and perhaps only over major holidays but keeping in touch with your home country can happen right in Korea. You can share a meal with other foreigners from your home country, attend cultural events, or participate in meetup groups/clubs. Also, depending on your work or school environment, you may not have many chances to speak your mother tongue either. Therefore meeting with other foreigners from your home country can give you a chance to speak in your mother tongue.

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How do you keep in touch with your friends and family? Leave a comment below. If you have questions about living in Korea contact the G.O.A.’L Community Mentor here.

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