black woman sitting with mountain backdrop

The Expat Files: Yolissma Vance

 

Name: Yolissma Vance

Where you can find Yolissma : Instagram

Nationality: American

Current Host Country: South Korea

Years Abroad:  2 years

Occupation: Photographer/English Teacher

black-woman-korea-hills

 

I moved to my current country because: I wanted to travel throughout Asia and take pictures. I was inspired by other black expat Youtubers and some of my favorite Asian movies.

The three things you need to make it here is: Kakao Talk (it’s the Korean version of WhatApp), Naver or Kakao Map, a Korean bank account. Koreans use direct deposit or pay by phone often. 

The Best thing about living in my host country has been:
The level of safety and opportunities. As a solo female ex-pat, Korea is a very safe country to live in. I don’t feel harassed here, there are cameras on about every street, safety zones at subway stations and emergency call buttons in woman stalls. As for opportunities, Korea offers ex-pats assimilation programs that offer language courses, cooking courses, community assistant, and classes that allow you to start a business here.

 

My favorite experience living here has been…The affordable traveling and networking in and out of Korea. I can buy a round trip ticket to Japan, Taiwan, China, or even Hong Kong for affordable prices. If I wanted to visit a nearby city in Korea by train or bus, a ticket would cost me around $30-$50 USD. Living in Seoul, I meet other travelers from all over the world. Some are teachers or here for business, either way, it’s easy to make new friends here and learn from them.

If you’re considering living here, you need to leave this at home: I would actually say the opposite as a person of color. Korea has everything you may need except it’s tailored to Korean society. That means they may not always have your color, size, or shade. Recently, cosmetic companies have introduced darker shades of make-up foundation for brown skin girls. Prior to this, I would have to stock up on foundation when in America or order near the military base. Now, I can walk into a Sephora and purchase concealer and foundation in my color. I also recommend you bring your own bed sheets or order online. I have yet to find fitted bedding for my mattresses. So, I usually purchase in America and have family ship them to me. Bring your own shoes, jeans, and a coat, Korean clothing runs smaller than American sizing. Lastly, for hair care, I order my shampoo, conditioner, and styling products online, walking into my local store and finding something that will comply with my hair is not likely at this moment.

The biggest lesson I learned as an expat is...
To not make haste decisions and to speak up for myself. Living in a fast non-English society, people will try to get over on you and you won't understand because you don't know all the laws of the country. Now, I take my time more when making decisions. If there is something I feel is not right or uncomfortable I speak up. Sometimes that means telling someone I will get back to them or just saying no, it's okay. It's okay to not have all the answers, no one in this world ever does.

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