Free as a bird in Seoul

Expat partner Amirah Sawan was extremely apprehensive about moving to South Korea from Saudi Arabia. But ever since she landed, she’s been having the time of her life.

Pre-assignment anxieties

“I had a lot of anxiety about living in Seoul. I thought that it would take a long time to adjust. I pictured becoming a lonely and depressed expat housewife, who’s always at home. I talked about this with my German husband, Patrick, and, of course, he encouraged me to have a positive outlook,” says Amirah. “But I didn’t really know what to expect, so I was still quite unsure on arrival.”

A world of opportunities

But rather than experience ‘culture shock’, Amirah’s eyes have been opened wide by her life in the South Korean capital. “Growing up in Saudi, I was unable to pursue many activities as a woman. There is more freedom for women in the present day but there are so  many exciting things for me to do in Seoul. I am like a free bird living here!”

The pursuit of happiness

“I really appreciate the support I received from Ines Ahrens at Global Connection. I thought some of the hobbies I wanted to pursue were a bit silly but she really encouraged me to follow my heart and find joyful places. Often our conversations had a therapeutic effect on me. After our calls I would feel so happy and enlightened.”

New, fun hobbies

Some of Amirah’s new hobbies include skateboarding and learning how to play the ukulele (she’s also learning German three times a week): “Friends back home can’t understand what I am doing. When I posted a clip of me riding a skateboard on Instagram, someone asked if I was having a midlife crisis!” says Amirah. “I’d also like to join a knitting class. I have thought about doing a masters in marketing but mastering German is a priority for now.”

Focused on self-discovery

“My son is in daycare from morning to afternoon, so I’ve plenty of time for studying, pursuing my hobbies and discovering Seoul with friends. Even after just a few months of expat life, I’m so happy about our decision to come and live here. Since moving to South Korea, I have been able to focus on self-discovery and now I feel like I know myself much better than I ever did before. I am really having the time of my life.”

Photo: Amirah playing the ukulele, one of several new hobbies after her move to Seoul

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