Life as an international teacher is more than simply teaching students in another part of the world. It is also an opportunity to explore and experience the culture and tradition of your host country. Since living in South Korea, Germany, and Chile, I have been able to celebrate holidays, participate in cultural festivities, and learn more about the history of each place.
In some countries, cultural events surround you everywhere you go. You may discover a lantern festival around one corner and a celebration of Buddah´s birthday around another. However, in other places, these experiences are found when you intentionally look for them.
From my experience in Seoul, there were endless opportunities to experience the Korean culture both in the city and around the country. As a foreigner, I had to keep my eyes and ears open to learn about upcoming celebrations. I found very quickly that social media and Korean expat
websites were the most effective way to discover many cultural events. So, I searched Facebook and joined some groups right away! I found one that had been my ¨go-to¨ group and event website throughout my year in Seoul: Adventure Korea. This group allowed me to travel the country by bus with Koreans and fellow expats, as well as experience various festivals, hikes, long weekend excursions, and so much more! If I had not made the effort to find a community of local Koreans and foreigners to help me stay informed with cultural events, I would have missed out on a lot!
In Munich and Santiago, I have found a similarity in the advertising of local cultural events. Advertisements are not simply displayed around the city (although, some are seen on banners of some major streets). I have discovered that, similar to my experience in South Korea, an effective way to find the inside scoop of upcoming events is to search, ask the locals, and join groups on social media. Sometimes, events are advertised at my international school for families, community members, and faculty to attend. It certainly is nice to share a common interest in experiencing local culture with teacher friends!
Between Munich and Santiago, I have celebrated Oktoberfest and May Day in Germany, attended local dance classes, gone to soccer games, experienced live music, shared home-cooked meals with local families, taken cooking classes, celebrated Chilean Independence Day, and hiked in the natural beauty of each country.
In addition to experiencing cultural festivals, I have also sought out U.S. traditions and events celebrated in different countries. As an expat, I feel the need to satisfy my own cultural cravings. Every country that I have lived as an international teacher has had some style of celebrations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Patrick´s Day, Valentine´s Day, Easter, and the Fourth of July. I know that there are expat communities that celebrate even more holidays and traditions beyond my own… But it´s up to you to research, ask around, or join groups to discover the culture that you seek.