Homesick for Korea. We’ve been there – trust us. We’ve had our fair share of time outside the peninsula for vacation, semi-deportation (visa issues, ugh), and family situations. And even though we love going back to our respective countries, leaving Korea can be somewhat destabilizing.
Home is where the heart is, but home is also where I’ve developed my own life, right?
Some of you may be feeling that way right now. Maybe you’ve just finished your language exchange; maybe you’ve decided to take another step after living in Korea for years. Whatever it is, there are ways to keep your ties here even if that means you’re several layovers away. Let us share our top tips on how to keep the homesickness at bay.
1. Hit The Books (Or The Web)
We know. Studying isn’t fun. But what if it’s studying something you love? If you see a future in Korea then learning the language must be the first step. There are so many great study guides for free that can help boost your language skills.
Talk To Me In Korean (TTMIK) – This is a great Youtube channel and website best designed for beginners and intermediate learners. We’re sure most of you already know it, so why not pick up where you left off?
How To Study Korean – Easily the most comprehensive Korean language website available, this is great for both beginner and advanced students. I can’t applaud the creator enough for the plethora of example sentences.
SAY Korea – Although the price tag may be a little high, the quality is sure to make up for it. SAY Korea is a 1:1 video lesson course with native speakers. Take the quick level test and meet your tutor! There are also a lot of specific courses here for TOPIK, KIIP and even Business Korean.
2. Plan Your Next Trip
Ummm, why wait for Korea to come to you? Make it a personal goal this year to save up for your next trip. If that means investing in a financial notebook or piggy bank to keep you on track, get your resources together as soon as possible! It’ll give you motivation and also help you keep your finances in check. And I mean, what else is adulting really about rather than saving our money for things we want? Make one of those things your next plane ticket: bound for Incheon.
3. Chow Down!
FOOD! It’s one of the things people ask me about the most when I leave Korea… and with good reason. The food here is so yummy. I’m sure you’re missing it now, but that tangy pepper taste is closer than you think.
Order a Korean Recipe Book: There are so many options available in English if you’re not familiar with the Korean alphabet. Vegans and veggies don’t worry: check out Korean Vegetarian by Young Jin Song or one of the numerous Temple Food cookbooks that are making waves overseas. Also, check out my personal blog post on authentic Korean vegetarian food here!
Add a Korean Touch: What makes some meals distinctly Korean? Add a sprinkle of green onions or sesame seeds to your fried chicken, or throw on a slice of cheese to your instant ramen for that distinctly local taste.
Korean Cooking Channels: There are so many great sources online if you’re not interested in making an Amazon delivery. Participating in the classic Mokbang 먹방 streams or educating yourself with some Youtube cooking channels will bring back so many great memories of your delicious nightlife in Seoul.
4. Get The Look
Do you love Korean style? Why not adopt some of it into your wardrobe? This applies to makeup and skincare too, and with new products on the market all the time, it’s worth staying updated.
Beauty Blogs: If you’re a Korean skincare enthusiast, check out the lovely Fii’s blog here. She has years of experience and discusses various topics like different skin types and medical issues that should be taken into concern. Additionally, The K Beauty Collective is a well-established choice with tips about the latest trends. Some more great choices for easy scrolling on Instagram are Unity and Dot.
K-Beauty Websites (with international shipping): Although they’re obvious to some, YesStyle and Gmarket Global really do have a lot of affordable options from Korea’s biggest brands. If you’re looking for something new, Style Korean is a hot pick and the website is super easy to navigate!
Clothes, galore! We promote clothes for all of our lovely body shapes and 09 Women as well as 66 Girls (shipping to Australia, US and New Zealand) happily supply for our plus size beauties! You may need to take your body measurements, but great products will soon be delivered right to your doorstep.
5. Sing Your Heart Out
What do you love more than noraebang? That’s right – nothing. I know you miss it, so why not take it straight to your room? Invest in that disco ball, tacky rainbow lights, and an echo microphone. You can jam out alone or with friends, but with the right equipment, you’ll feel like you’re right back in a dingy Seoul basement. And what better way to practice your Korean singing skills? Go ahead, give that rap song a second try.
6. Meet Korean Friends (Yes, You Can!)
Maybe you’re the kind of person who throws themselves in the deep end when they travel. Or maybe you’re a bit more reserved. Now is the chance to reach out to people who share similar interests through language exchange apps or local meetups!
Meetup: Although the odds of having a Korean language meetup in small villages are few and far between, what’s the harm in checking? Maybe consider starting your own to meet like-minded people or head to the nearest city once a month for more options.
Tandem: Tandem is a great app to play games and share your language skills with Koreans and Korean speakers around the globe. You can give people ratings or choose to only speak to your gender, making it a safe online community.
7. Try Your Hand At Arts and Crafts
If you’re interested in the ancient culture of Korea, you know that they are the Kings and Queens of crafts. There are so many staple DIYs from the peninsula and many of them are easy enough to try yourself.
If you’re a seamstress, have you looked into making your own bojagi? If you’ve got nimble fingers, Korean knots make for gorgeous gifts. Additionally, you can craft so many things out of hanji including paper dolls, shoes, and flower pins.
How much do you actually know about Korea? If you feel like you’re lagging behind in the ancient classics, or maybe you don’t really know much about Japanese colonization, head to your local library and grab yourself a history book.
And while ancient Korean literature is great, if you want to talk about literature with your friends, modern works are the way to go. There are so many great contemporary reads out there with many of them appearing on the international book scene. My top choices are Please Look After Mother, When My name was Keoko and Human Acts.
We hope that these tips can help you get a little more settled into life outside Korea. We know that it can be hard. Then again, we also hope that you’ll find your own way to reconnect with this beautiful country.
If you think of anything we didn’t mention that suits your fancy, leave us a comment below or on our Instagram! We wish you luck on the many beautiful journeys yet to come.