Over the past three years of living abroad I have had a fair share of experiencing different expat communities around the world. My expat experiences are mostly from Europe and Australia. Moving to a new country gets easier over time, but it is hard to know what to expect from the expat community and before I came to Korea I had no idea what it would be like. I’ll start off by stating that Gwangju by far has one of the best expat community I have been involved with. Today I am going to share my perspective and experiences on expat life in Gwangju over the past 6 months.
Just to clarify for those of you who are not familiar, an “expat” or “expatriate” is a person who lives outside of their native country. A foreigner living in Korea is considered an expat.
Expats can sometimes gain a negative connotation surrounding their lifestyle or community. The reality is no community or expat should be stereotyped, there are always going to be people who give expats a bad name. For this one bad apple there are hundreds of others who provide a tremendous amount effort into improving the local and foreign community. This is no different here in Gwangju, the community is super active and because of this there certainly is a sincere group feeling surrounding it. Often times this type of feeling can be overtaken by a feeling of exclusivity where huge divide is created between foreigners and locals. It seems Gwangju does have some of this, but mostly there is a good mix between Koreans and expats. It feels great interacting with people from other countries and exchanging your culture with each other. This is how the world becomes more open minded and interactive. Remember that although it may not always feel apparent, you are an ambassador for your country whether you like it or not. You could be the first person someone has met from country “x” and this can change his or her outlook or feelings towards your country.
Lifestyle in Gwangju can be as fun or boring as you make it. This is the case with anything, it seems like there is always something going on in the city. Get involved, share something with the community, or just go ahead and put yourself out there and start meeting some people. The Gwangju Facebook group can be accessed here. With almost 2,500 active members it is surely the best place to get involved with expats, Koreans and the local community. Share and be open, it is a loving and passionate group that are always willing to help.
What has been your expat experience in Gwangju? Leave a comment below to share how you view expats in Gwangju or Korea in general.
Leave a reply