Today we will learn more about Isabela, a 23-year-old Brazilian from Brasília (24 in Korea) who lives in Chuncheon in South Korea with her Korean husband. She studies Korean at a local university and tells us a bit about her experience and gives some tips.
– Why did you decide to live in Korea?
I’ve always wanted to live abroad, especially in an Asian country. I really enjoy Asian culture in general and like to learn with their customs. Honestly, I think part of my personality suits this side of the world better. The opportunity to live here came after meeting my husband on a small trip to Korea a few years ago. I can’t tell if I’m permanently living here because we’d like to experience life in other countries as well. But so far, I’m enjoying life here.
– Which who and where are you living?
I live with my husband and 3 cats, we’re currently living in an apartment in a small city near Seoul.
– What was your first impression of Korea?
My very first impression was that it’s so cold here! I first came during the winter so as soon as I got out of the airport it was a big shock for me how cold it can be here. Coming from a tropical country I had no experience with winter whatsoever. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it but it’s nice to watch the beautiful white scenario.
– What are the questions they ask or thinks they say when you tell them that you are from Brazil?
The first word they usually say is Samba! and ask if I know how to dance samba or ask if I’m friends with Neymar. I always answer yes to that.
– What are 5 good and 5 bad things about living in Korea?
Conveniences: Online delivery service is quite fast. You order something online and it arrives the next day. Also, there are many shops and restaurants opened in the midnight.
Safety: Korea has great public security. Of course, it would be a smart idea to be always careful but here is relatively safer, especially at night too. Moreover, everyone probably is aware, but I still like to mention it is usually ok to leave your belongings in public places like a cafe. It is surprising that no one takes it. But always be careful though, there is always an exception.
Fast speed Internet: I love watching movies and series on my laptop. Let’s say, I start downloading a movie and go make a cup of tea, by the time I come back, it’s already done.
Entertainment: There are lots of places for dating or hanging out with friends. Noraebang (karaoke), Internet cafe, VR café (virtual reality), and so on. I really enjoy going to noraebang whenever I want to release my stresses by shouting. You can go alone and sing for one whole hour. And my favorite place to go must be any cute small café in a small alley. I love the relaxing, calm feeling they have.
4 seasons: Korea has 4 distinct seasons. I can enjoy snow and experience winter activities at the end of the year and enjoy summer activities in the middle of the year as well. The view is so awesome too during spring and autumn.
Fruits: Fruits are yummier than where I come from. For example, strawberry is way sweeter. I literally ate strawberry for the whole month. I can never get tired of it :)
Too much attention: In Seoul, it is fine to go everywhere without being noticed because there are many people, plus many people from other countries. However, at where I live, everywhere I go, people always stare at me even though there are some foreign people living in this city. So, it’s sometimes embarrassing to eat at the restaurants because they stare at me as I eat foods.
4 seasons: I like the fact that I can have 4 distinct seasons here in Korea, but I am also not good with it. During summer, it’s way too hot and quite humid, which makes it harder to endure, on the other hand, in the winter it is so cold which is still hard for me to deal with even if I wear right clothes. Also, it’s very dry in the winter so you get lots of sparks when you touch something.
The price of fruits: fruits might be yummier but also more expensive. I once saw a tv program. Even the best and most popular Korean female volleyball player went grocery shopping and got surprised by the high price of fruits in Korea, which was quite interesting.
Trash bins: There are no trash bins on the street. There are some if you carefully look for it. But surprisingly, there is not much trash on the street.
– What is your favorite place in Korea? Which place would you like to visit?
There are my two favorite places, Insadong and Sinchon in Seoul. I like the atmosphere around Insadong because it has many traditional buildings and beautiful tea houses. Sinchon is where I met my husband, and it’s the place where we usually had our dates. I’d like to visit Jeju-Island. We have been planning to go there, but seems unlikely for now because we have 3 cats to look after :)
– What Korean custom you wish everybody had?
Removing their shoes before going inside home. I know this custom is not exclusive to Korea but I’m glad they do it here too. I don’t know how people can go inside their home wearing same shoes they use to go out. Anyway, it’s none of my business what people do at home but that’d be something nice.
– What’s it like being married to a Korean?
Being married to my husband is super lovely so far not just because he is Korean. I cannot generalize what it is like being married to a Korean because everyone is different. In my case, he and his family are quite open-minded. I know that since I am in Korea, I may have to follow some Korean traditions and their ways, but they do not insist me to follow their rules, but rather try to respect my culture and customs so that I feel welcomed and miss less my family and my country. They accept me for who I am, for which I am truly grateful.
– What are your plans after finishing the Korean language course?
I and my husband are planning to open a themed café together. I can’t give many details now but that’s what we have in mind. I am also planning on traveling more to share the view of Korea on my YouTube channel. And a faraway dream is to become a florist. So far, I have no plans on that though.
– What are 5 tips you can give to a person that wants to study in Korea?
Always look left first on the road when crossing the streets
Be prepared for hot weathers and cold weathers.
Try not to mind about people staring at you
Don’t be afraid of talking to other people in Korean and appreciate every moment you are spending apart from your country, which is something I always tell myself because I am a shy person.
In case you’re planning to stay in Korea for longer, don’t register at any phone shops because it might be way more expensive. Make your foreign ID card at Korean Immigration Service and register mobile phone plan online called 알뜰폰 which is not so complicated if you do as you are told to do.
You do not want to be too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer at home so I would suggest not to rush into deciding your accommodation. Try to search thoroughly, and make sure to check if air-conditioning and a heating device are in place.