Ok. That’s a stupid title. It’s impossible to do a moving without stress. And if you are moving to another continent, the thing is worse.
Said that, I have been thinking about making a list of some of the problems and unexpected things I found while moving from Barcelona to Seoul. 9500Km far away. Into another world. Another culture. Another language (that I don’t speak yet).
VISA & LANGUAGE
Unluckily the world still have frontiers for people. That means you have to ask for a visa if you pretend to live, instead of being just a tourist. In my case, I found out that getting a student visa, joining a Korean course, was the easiest option. Anyway, I expected to learn the language, to be able to communicate with local people. Of course, nowadays you can live in any place in the world just knowing English, but it’s better to learn the local language. So, joining a Korean course you get a visa that lasts a bit more than the course itself.
I joined level 1 course in Sogang University. Apparently, everybody say this Korean course, compared to the one in other universities, is really focused in speaking. And that’s true. We practice speaking from the very first day, which was overwhelming but funny at the same time. The course lasts for 3 months, and it’s 4 hours every day. I paid around 1000€ for it.
MONEY & HOUSE
Here there is a clear rule: you are going to spend more money that you expected, even taking into account this rule. The course was 1000€, the flight was like 600€, the first week in a hostel around 200€. And the house, a huge amount of money.
In Korea, in the past, they used to have a curious way of renting houses, called “jeonsei”. Basically you pay a lot for the “key money” (more than 6000€), and later you don’t need to pay the monthly fee, because actually the owner subtracts it from the key money. However, nowadays they rent houses using the Western style, paying monthly. But they still have in mind the old style. That means they will ask a lot for the key money. In my case I was really lucky, and got the house just with 3000€ of key money.
The monthly rent in Seoul is cheaper that in Barcelona. But there is a big difference between prices. In my case, I really wanted to live near the university, so I have to pay an extra, because it’s a “cool” area. With the help of some Korean friends, I found a house that matches most of my wishes. It’s a one-room, 24m2, plus a 4m2 bathroom. It could be small for Western standards, but it’s pretty big and new for local standards. The house-room is basically 4 walls: 1 wall with a desk, another with the kitchen, another with the bed and closets, and another with a big window with a nice view of the area. I pay around 550€/month, without bills. Moreover, I had to buy a lot of house stuff, from dishes to a office chair.
Funny enough, you don’t need a foreign ID card to rent a house, just the passport. But you can’t open a bank account without a foreign ID card. A Korean friend told me that they consider a bank account a more important thing than a house!
Summing up, if you want to move to Asia, and pretend to have a normal house, be ready to invert at least 5000€.
Extra thing: it’s not really easy to move money from one continent to another. It’s better if you go with (at least) 2 credit cards, from different banks. And remember that a international wire transfer can take several days.
I remember that when I moved to Barcelona, I was lucky to stay some of my first days there in Gabriel & Laura’s house. I met them only once, before moving, so we were almost strangers at that time. So it was really nice from them. But in Korea nobody offered me his house. So I booked a private room in a hostel for 1 week.
It can be easy or difficult, regarding people. If you have close friends or boy/girlfriend in your destination, the moving could be easy. But in my case, I just knew some people. So I couldn’t expect so much help from them. Remember, people are busy, and it’s possible that couldn’t help you at the time you arrive. Luckily I found some Korean that helped me A LOT with all the stuff.
FOOD & DAY LIFE
Food is different. So you have to adapt. One thing is going to a Korean restaurant from time to time, and another is eating there every day. Also, if you like cooking, be ready to change your recipes with new ingredients. Even simple things like salt can be quite different.
When yo do normal life in a foreign country, you have to learn things from zero again. For example, I got a document with instructions on recycling. My building has a schedule for trashing different stuff. Of course, the document is only in Korean!
…anyway, I’m enjoying the experience!