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What's it like living in Asia? For the most part I have mostly good things to say about how you will get treated in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China. Most people will be very curious about you. You'll get a lot of looks and they will want to know about you. Many people will be very helpful. Although they may be more shy than most westerners, some people will go out of their way to help you out. You may receive some special treatment.


If you're going to be an English teacher there then you will find that people will respect you more. Eastern Asian culture really respects the teacher. So for many your status will improve.


You'll receive many "hello's" from people who walk by and say hello. Sometimes these "hello's" won't be directed at your face. As mentioned before the culture is less outgoing and you may hear these "hello's" coming from behind you. Or a child may have said it and is now running off to hide in the bushes and giggle.

Many people are interested in learning English and they may approach you for this reason. For them a foreigner is a chance for them to practice their English.


Asians seem to love to take pictures. People may ask you to take a picture with them. It seems kinda funny, but some will perceive you as some sort of movie star. In my experience young girls would usually be the ones to approach you on the street and ask to take a picture with you. So they would take their picture, say "thank you" and be on their way.


You may even receive some unexpected gifts. And sometimes it will be because you're simply a foreigner and other times it could be a custom. For example, you're local restaurant may give you extra side dishes free of charge.

Generally people will treat you quite well. Most of the things that appear odd just stem from curiousity.

On the flip side

You may also experience some indifference or a cold shoulder. Some people may be xenophobic or afraid of you just because you are foreign. Some of the "Hello's" may get old and you may even get the occasional "F*&! you", which would be yelled at you from a distance. But it's usually teenagers who say that and they don't really know what they are saying.

Some of the picture taking can get old after a while and you may be wondering what they are going to do with your picture. If you mind then you can always politely decline or you can just have fun with it and make some funny face or something.

The people who want to learn English are usually a dead giveaway. Often their English sounds like a recital and there is not much of a give and take as far as communication goes. Again if it bothers you then you can politely decline.

ESL teacher interviews

Check out the ESL teacher interviews to hear about their experiences teaching abroad in Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan.

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