Five Ways to Feel at Home When You're Abroad
Andrew and I were walking to our building from our bus stop after spending the day wandering around our busier neighboring towns, when we shared the same thought aloud—Seoul feels like home. It feels less like we've moved to another country and more like we just don't live in Rhode Island anymore. It's a good feeling.
Of course, it's easier to feel at home when you live with your significant other, whom you have lived with for some time, and it may still be a honeymoon phase as we've lived in Seoul less than a year, but there are also little things here and there that have made it more home-y.
Bring a home good from home. With the 'bare minimum' we packed, I stuffed in a couple extras—our monogram mugs and the milk glass and iridescent bowl I keep my makeup brushes and hair ties and clips in. These little touches have brought our previous home into our new one.
Add new home goods that bring you comfort. We're trying not to accumulate much as we know this isn't a permanent move, but we've added accents like our fluffy blue bath mat and our pretty blue and white bedding that's so cosy to cuddle under that bring comfort into our little officetel. Even organizing the things in your home—I made a coffee, tea, and snack station in our wall shelf/drawer unit—can bring you that comfort.
Pamper yourself. I went a little luxe in the skincare department and restocked my favorite Aesop products. The therapeutic smell of the cleanser alone makes it well worth its price tag, and the cleansing masque has become my Sunday evening ritual.
Find your regular spots. So far, I've found my hair salon and 'designer' and a farm-fresh restaurant in Sinsa with the greatest jjigae in the world (still on that Hamilton kick). The workers at my favorite juice bar recognize us now and even try to communicate with us in English. One Saturday, we discovered a delicious Indian restaurant in Gangnam and an Alice in Wonderland-themed cafe. We spend our Saturdays wandering and discovering in this way, which brings me to my final tip.
Develop routines. This is probably the most effective way to feel at home when you're abroad as it makes all of the new familiar. I take yoga class two nights a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm trying to make it a habit of tidying our officetel and completing chores and errands on Friday afternoons and evenings to start the weekends at ease. I video-chat with my parents on Sunday mornings. I try to find time each day to sit and enjoy a cup of tea.
These are small but intentional steps that make a big impact in my day-to-day and on my quality of life as an expat. I hope that, even if just as reminders, these serve to help you feel at home wherever you are.
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