Expat Interview: Gina's Misadventures Around Asia | ExpatWoman.com

Expat Interview: Gina's Misadventures Around Asia

An English teacher has enjoyed Japan for over 3 years and is now currently residing in South Korea

Posted on

14 October 2015

Last updated on 26 October 2017
Expat Interview: Gina's Misadventures Around Asia

I’m living in:
My name is Gina and I’m currently residing in South Korea.

A bit about me:
Hello fellow expat women, aspiring expat women, ex-expat women (is that a thing?) and those who love reading this site!. What about me is interesting, you might ask? I was an expat woman in Okinawa, Japan for three years before making the move to Korea. I’m a Mex-Itali-merican trying to figure out all Asia has to offer. If you’re interested in travel, food, Korea and Japan, then take a look at my misadventures for a good laugh. You won’t be disappointed.

What do you enjoy doing with your time?
In my free time, I enjoy working out, playing my snakeskin banjo, and dressing up to get down with the local culture. When I lived in Japan, I lived on Okinawa, a small island about 300 miles south of mainland Japan.

Accommodation Options?
My small and humble apartment was made of polished wooden floors and walls, and it included a kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedroom. I loved my apartment, but I didn’t love paying rent. In Korea, I don’t pay rent and I live in a large studio in a city outside of Seoul. It just depends on what your flavour is.

SEE ALSO: Life in Japan

What top tips do you have for anyone considering a move?
For anyone considering a move to Japan or Korea, my advice is: do your research and know yourself. What do you like? What don’t you like? What can’t you live without? What are your goals? If your goal is to save I wouldn’t recommend Japan because it’s one of the most expensive destinations in the world. I love spicy food and good cheese; both are luxuries in Japan if you’re outside a big city. Japan is great if you enjoy a quieter lifestyle because I guarantee you can hear a pin drop on the train.

What do you wish you’d known before you moved?
Before I moved, I wish I knew more about authentic Japanese cuisine. It’s not only sushi and sashimi. The Japanese value light flavours and my palette just does not appreciate that. Food is an enormous part of your happiness. I also wish I would have known how much I was going to sweat. Korea and Japan are both trying to be energy conscious so the air-conditioning in’t always turned on in the morning in the summer. The humidity combined with air conditioning units cause colds.

Misadventures Around Asia

What have you learnt while you have lived abroad?
If you’re debating these two countries and trying to be an English teacher, I would say look into government programs. Eikaiwas in Japan have bad reps because of harassment, no action taken against the harassers, and not getting paid on time. Hagwons in Korea are strictly businesses and they focus on keeping their customers happy which means teaching comes second. Hagwons in Korea don’t offer a lot of time off either.  

I enjoyed Okinawa for three years, with its unique culture, dance, dialect, and beaches but I left for a new adventure and self betterment. Korea suits my personality better and I look forward to documenting the things I learn for all of you.

What’s the best thing about being an expat?
The best part of being an expat is the growth you go through as a person. You meet incredible people from all walks of life who can teach you a thing or two about the world. You become immersed in a new culture, a new way of life, and a new way of thinking. As an expat you learn how to quickly and creatively solve your problems when the way you know doesn’t work. As an expat, I slowly began growing into the woman I always wanted to be. If you teach abroad as a gap year, use that year to make yourself better instead of missing home. Enjoy your new homeland and all it has to offer.

Follow Gina Bears adventures abroad on her blog