Expat Longings

No matter how much you love a country, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz was right when she said “There’s no place like home”. When you move away, you find new things you love, you make replacements and adjustments. But sometimes, you just want the real thing: a Mars Bar, some Nando’s chicken, your favourite magazine. And, most importantly, real English tea.

Then, there are the things you don’t even realise you like about home, until you’re not there and can’t have them anymore: the smell of going to a petrol station, turning on the radio and actually understanding what the people are talking about.

Here’s a (rather nostalgic) list of those things that, dare I say it, even a bowl of the best Bibimbap in Korea won’t cure. The little things from home that I miss…



Let’s start with the most important thing, and it’s a pretty predictable one- tea. It’s a mystery to me that even when you buy English Breakfast Tea, it never quite tastes the same as when you’re at home. Why is that? Is it because the milk is different? Well, that leads me onto my next point…




That horrible feeling you get when you go on holiday and the milk just doesn’t quite taste right? Imagine having that every day…do you get used to it? No, not really.





Tesco. Sainsburys. Waitrose. Having that comforting feeling of walking into a supermarket and knowing where everything is, what everything is, what brands are the best tasting, and more importantly, which to avoid.

Imagine our delight when we found Tesco Homeplus in Korea: packages that we recognise! Best thing ever.

Reserved People


I never thought of myself as particularly reserved, but it’s fair to say that since being out of England, I’ve probably lived up to the famous stereotype of ‘The Great British Reserve’. I like socialising, sure, but sometimes I miss the English way; polite small-talk is fine with people you’ve just met, thanks! There is definitely such a thing as too much information, as I’ve recently found out…



There’s nothing like a nice orderly queue, whether it’s standing in line at the bank, a supermarket, or to buy food at a football match. It just makes sense.

And also, queue-jumpers definitely deserve to be regarded as the lowest of the low.




Cadbury’s. Maltesers. Walkers Crisps. Magnums. The list could go on forever really.

Treat snacks from home cannot be beaten and we miss it alot. And no, Hershey’s is in no way a suitable replacement.



Comfort Food


There’s nothing better than a hearty, warming, filling meal. Sunday pub lunches with roast potatoes, gravy, Yorkshire puddings and stuffing. It pretty much cures anything.

What I’d give sometimes for a fish pie with mushy peas, or a good roast chicken with chips. Well, a girl can dream…

English Weather

Sini Merikallio Flickr,Wikimedia Commons
Sini Merikallio Flickr,Wikimedia Commons

Ok, so we all moan about the weather, but you have to admit there’s something comforting about sitting by a roaring fire with the rain pounding down outside.

It’s not great of course when you’re caught in the middle of a rain storm with no umbrella, but still… it’s weird but true that you do end up missing it.


Sheep and Cows In Fields


This one might sound silly, but it’s true that going for drives just isn’t the same without endless fields full of animals.

Believe it or not, the highlight of going to a Beef Festival recently was to see some cows- I was honestly excited by the thought of it… Weird.



Asenine, Wikimedia Commons
Asenine, Wikimedia Commons

Hearing the familiar tunes, recognising the faces and actually understanding what’s on the screen; it’s definitely something you start to miss.

Oh, and don’t underestimate the pride you feel when foreigners tell you how much they love the BBC…



Something that you take for granted- walking into a shop and actually knowing how much something costs, without having to do quick multiplications in your head.

‘So wait… 10,000 won is $10… which is £6?’ Pretty much guesswork. Let’s just hope I’ve been over-estimating my spending for the past 18 months…




And again, just because nothing says ‘home’ more than a cup of tea, does it? I know what the first thing I do when I get home will be: straight over to the kettle…


Ok, so it’s fair to say that there are also things which I definitely don’t miss: stupidly expensive transport, self-service machines which never work, having to pay 12% service charge in restaurants even if the service is bad… I could go on. And I know that when I’m back in England I’ll be moaning about the things which I miss from Korea.

I guess the saying in this case is true: ‘The grass is always greener’… in the other country.



Kathryn's Living


Re: Expat Longings

Hi Kathryn,

I know how you feel. That is why I started Checkbook. https://www.facebook.com/CheckbookUlsan

As well as used books and DVD's, I have Cadbury's, Mars etc. Also a small stock of non-confectionery like Bisto, Branston, HP Sauce.

I usually make and order one or twice a month, so if there is anything you would like PM me on the Facebook page.

Best wishes



Re: Expat Longings

Hi Sean. 

Wow that sounds amazing! Thanks for sending the link, I'll definitely check it out, what a good idea!


Re: Expat Longings

I love how your photo for "orderly queues" is of people making a run on Northern Rock Bank when it went belly up, as if you miss desperately wondering if your savings have been stolen by those oh-so-civilized banks back home. I AM SO NOSTALGIC FOR FINANCIAL FRAUD!!!

Re: Expat Longings

I'm also British and have lived in Korea for over 13 years. I don't know how long you've been here Kathryn, but you learn to adjust. More importantly over time you learn how to obtain those "comforts of home", by hook or by crook. 

Tea...I'm sure you are already aware of the Tesco "Red Label" tea in Homeplus,  but sometimes it isn't available. However there are a ton of "Asian" marts throughout cities in Korea where you can get Sri Lankan and Indian made tea. (After all that is where Typhoo, Tetley and PG Tips come from.)

The Chocolate - Mars bars and Milky Ways have recently arrived on Korean shores, but with their American names at Costco. For some reasons the Americans call a Mars bar a Milky Way and a Milky Way a Musketeer. I don't get it either, but at least they are here. 

Fish and Chips, A good curry, A Sunday Roast: Everything is available here to cook it at home. The aforementioned "Asia Marts" sell every spice under the sun to make Indian, Thai and other Asian favourites. Fish and Chips are as simple as going to your local supermarket and buying a bag of frozen cod or pollack and battering that baby up. A Sunday roast and good ol' Yorkshire puds you're going to need an oven for, if you are staying here for longer than a year it's worth the investement. Don't have to get a full size gas one. The Samsung / LG table top electric ones work wonderfully. I would also recommend joining the Facebook group cooking in Korea. It's a wealth of information that tells you where to find stuff and gives you ideas for substitutes when you can't. https://www.facebook.com/groups/278432732198141/


TV Shows - You can get a free VPN and watch shows via BBC iPlayer and the rest. Or you can use torrents, although the legality of the latter is a bit dodgy.

British Weather - Can't help you with this one, but I kind of like it in Korea on the rare occasions it "drizzles".

Sheep and Cows in Fields - Good luck with that one, but Korea does have some stunning countryside if you have the means to get to it and explore it. 

Well that's my two bob, as my gran used to say. Hopefully you can find some things that you miss. 

Re: Expat Longings

Wow, thanks for the tips! I have found the red label tea in Homeplus, and it is good! I had no idea that 'Musakateers' were Milky Way though, and that Milky Way were Mars Bars- thanks for that :)

I have made many adjustments, and I do also love so many things about Korea- like you said, the beautiful countryside, the great food and so much more. Like I said in the post, when I'm back in England I'll be saying what I miss about Korea haha.