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Leon's Planet Presents:
We 'R'  X-pats

For expatriates (not ex-patriots!) and for global nomads (like myself)!

Quick Links (on this page) Where has Leon been?

MY BLOGS (of my life in various countries overseas)

Ex-patriot vs. Expatriate

Expat Polls (and see the results!)

Advice for Expats (Dealing with Culture Shock)

Business for Expats

Charity for Expats to do

Fun for Expats

Jokes/Humor for Expats

Languages for Expats

Networking for Expats

News for Expats

Services for Expats

Links to other websites (for expats)

Learn about your host (me).




***** This is a True Story! *****

Are you an ex-patriot or an expatriate?

Once I met a guy--a tourist--in one of the countries that I've lived in (outside my fatherland).
After some discussion, we established that we were both from the U.S.A.

Then, he asked, "Are you an expat?"  I said that I was.
Then, he asked, "Why are you an ex-patriot?

He caught me off-guard.  After a couple of seconds, I realized what he was asking me.

I replied, "I'm not an ex-patriot!  I'm an expatriate!  I love my country."

You see?  Although the two words sound almost the same, they are NOT the same in meaning.

"ex-" (with the hyphen) means "former".

"ex" means "outside".

"patri" means "father" or in these cases: "fatherland".

So, 'ex-patriot' means:  former supporter of the fatherland.

And, 'expatriate' means:  outside the fatherland.

I am an expatriate and global nomad, not an ex-patriot!



My Blogs, Archived


Countries that Leon has lived in & his Blogs!!!

Just click on the flags / or / the links to see Leon's blogs.

South Korea China Poland Turkey Vietnam Mongolia
2003-2004 2006-7 2008-9 2009-10 2010-2015
Blog Korea Blog Tongliao Blog Poland Blog Turkey Blog Vietnam Blog Mongolia



Expat Polls (by Leon)
Why?  Because I'm curious!
Please take my polls.

Leon's Expat Poll #1 Leon's Expat Poll #2 Leon's Expat Poll#3





Advice for Expats

Article:  " Dealing with Culture Shock"
By Leon

My first experience with "culture shock" was in South Korea.  Since my life in Korea, culture shock has been less shocking, because I had come to expect it.  Let me first discuss my culture shock in Korea.  (Much of this is discussed in my blog about my life in Korea).

Well, I guess my first shock was to realize that my preconceived notions about Korea (and the Far East in general) were totally wrong.  Before I got on the plane, I had expected everyone to be wearing the traditional clothing of Korea.  Not so.  Everyone was dressed like me.

My second shock was to see tons of females walking hand in hand, very affectionately, and tons of males walking arm in arm, almost too affectionately for my culture.  I honestly thought that I was in the "gay" part of the country (for certainly the whole country wasn't gay, because that wouldn't lead to the 45 million people).  It wasn't until later that I realized that friendly affections are publicly displayed in their culture (and that homosexuality is actually very frowned upon, even to the point that some people will deny its existence).

My third shock was at my job.  My boss gave me no materials and no instructions.  He just said, "Go in and teach."  Sure, I was a licensed professional educator, and sure, I new the content well (as English was my first language); But, come on!   Right?!!!

My fourth shock was what is called the "Ddong Chim" which means "Poop Push".  Little kids in my classes would think it funny to stick their fingers in my butt hole, while I was writing on the board.  If you want a shock, that'll do it.  I literally jumped up and almost hit the ceiling.  I was furious.  My privacy had been invaded.  But, over time, you learn that in different cultures, people have different ideas about what is private.  For example, Koreans love to parade their newborn sons nude, to show the world that they have succeeded in giving birth to a son.  Other people greet the son by grabbing his little penis and shaking the penis in adoration.  You get the picture, don't you?  Male children are prized more than female.  You see no photos of naked female infants.  While you see photos of naked male infants adorning the living room walls, even restaurants of the Koreans.  After giving birth to a male child, it is traditional to hang a string of chili peppers outside the front door of the home, the chili pepper being the obvious phallic symbol.  So, my fifth shock was that males are prized more than females.  I did NOT like this attitude, because I was judging it based upon my culture and my upbringing.  If you see it through the "eyes" of the Korean culture, it doesn't seem so bad.

In Korean culture, if a couple has no male child, there is no what we in the U.S. would call, "social security" or "pension plan".  You see, in the Korean culture, when the couple gets to be senior citizens and can no longer work, it is the firstborn son who takes care of them, and in return, inherits everything the couple has.  Female offspring marry into OTHER families and take care of the husband's parents.  She is literally taken off of her original family register and put on the husband's family register.  When, you understand the culture, it is not so easy to judge harshly the desire for male offspring, is it?

Speaking of male offspring, Can you imagine having pretty much the same values and only being allowed to have one offspring?  Yeah, I'm talking about China.  Does it make it right that millions of female babies are aborted?  Heck no!  But, you can understand the desperation that some couples feel to have a male offspring, when their whole future is predicated upon it.  Again,  I'm not saying that it is right.  I think that China's leaders should have anticipated the problem when they made the stupid law that one couple could have only one offspring.  In fact, I think that the law is beyond stupid.  I believe that the government has NO right to interfere in the personal decisions of family life, such as how many children a couple has.  It is better to educate the people and distribute prophylactics.  I hate it when governments get involved in people's personal lives.  I hate it when governments try to legislate morality.  It is not the job of the government to legislate morality, except when people hurt other people.  As long as people do not hurt other people, let them do their thing.  Governments are supposed to ensure the safety of the people, not micromanage their lives, and instill their values upon the people.

Sorry.  I did exactly what I warned we shouldn't do, didn't I?  I made a judgment.  WELL, let me explain something.  I'm not judging the culture, I'm judging the government.  I think there is a difference.  I judge all governments that think that they have the right to micromanage the affairs of every human being under their jurisdiction.  That is NOT their function.  If the government in China would stay out of family matters, there wouldn't be so many abortions.  And if the government is so interested in morality, then legislate no abortions, right?  Why cherry-pick which moralities you will enforce and which ones you will not?  What's up with that?  [Be it known, I am equally critical of my own government, which is partly why I am an expatriate].  I have a solution to the abortion problem in China:  Instead of paying for all those abortions, the government should pay for invitro fertilization.  YEAH!  Why didn't they think of that?!!!!!

So, let's get back to culture shock.  Food is part of any culture.  And, we all experience "food shock" when we visit foreign lands.  It is fun for some to sample some of the local cuisine, and mortifying for others.  I'd say that if you want to live in a foreign country, you've got to be ready to expect the WHOLE package, which includes the food.  At least try some of the local cuisine.  If you are a vegetarian, I wouldn't go to Korea.  Every single dish is served with meat or bullion of meat.  I'd go to India, if I were you.  Japan has one dish with no meat: miso.  But, are you going to eat miso for every meal?  I don't think so.  Don't get me wrong.  It is possible to live in a foreign country if you are a vegetarian, but it is hard.  [I know some people who've managed it.]

My first "food shock" was my second day in Korea.  My boss came over with a tub of kimchi that his wife had made, and some cooked rice.  He served it to me and sat there and watched me eat it.  I hated it.  It was utterly disgusting, and smelled bad, too.  Yet, I ate every single bite and smiled while I did it.  After he left, I was faced with the problem:  do I pour out the tub of kimchi in the trash can and say that I ate it?  Or do I trudge through the whole tub, whether I like it or not?  Well, I'm not the kind of person who likes to waste food.  So, over the course of the next two weeks, I forced myself to eat all of the kimchi.  By the end of the two weeks, I was hooked, and I was begging for more.  My boss smiled and said that he'd give me one more tub, but after that, I'd have to buy my own kimchi.

So, it is possible to overcome "food shock".

My second "food shock" was with dried squid.  Koreans seemed to love as it was sold all over the place.  You could even see the dried squid hanging on strings in the open-air markets.  They sold it on the roadsides for motorists.  I was mortified.  It looked absolutely disgusting.  In fact, I'd have put it on par with the thought of eating bugs.  One day, my boss bought a dried squid and encouraged me to try some.  I didn't want to be rude, so I did.  Much to my surprise, I loved it!  I loved green eggs and ham!  I did!  I loved them Sam I am!

Language is also part of any culture.  My first "language shock" was when I learned that Korean has three (sometimes four) levels of speech.  I was going around saying, "Anyeonghashimnigga?" to all the children, until one day, one of the children told me that I was wrong.  I should say, "Anyeong" to little children, because I'm older.  "Oh!" I thought.  The book didn't teach me that!  Yeah.  Get used to it.  My experience with language books that try to teach foreigner how to speak the local lingo are VERY lacking.

On the flipside, many foreigners learn to speak (not from books) and they make the opposite mistake (which is worse in my opinion).  Because foreigners are often perceived (by some rude Koreans) to be "outside" their hierarchy system, the rude Koreans will use "low" language to the foreigners, and the foreigners learn the low language.  They naturally think that it is polite and start using it anywhere and to whomever.  I often cringe when I hear this going on.

My second "language shock" was in learning that different languages have different sounds that I had previously not been exposed to.  It was quite difficult to master those new sounds, but it was so important, because the wrong sound can change the entire meaning of the word.  It takes time and effort, but it can be done.  You can master those new sounds.


There’s a book out, entitled: “The Five Stages of Culture Shock” by Paul Pedersen. I mention it, because Mr. Pedersen, deserves part of the credit for what I’m going to discuss today, namely the five stages of culture shock, and how I’ve passed through them all. As you read, you may be interested in identifying which stage you are in.

(1) Honeymoon Stage

The first stage of culture shock is called, the “Honeymoon Stage”. As the name implies, it is a wonderful time. The newcomer is enamored with the new culture. We enjoy shaking hands with people in Mongolia, when we accidentally bump each others’ feet. We think it is a cool custom. Most of us enjoy the titillating smells and tastes of our new abode. We find the vast, open landscape of Mongolia refreshing from the concrete jungles that we call home. The tourist attractions are enticing and it is fascinating to learn about the history and life-styles of the locals. Every country that I’ve been to has provided me with a honeymoon-like experience. Mongolia is no exception. When I first got here, I fell in love with the place. The people I met were so nice and accommodating. The housing was adequate, not like home, but adequate. The airport was small, but had all the usual conveniences. The food was good. The autumn air was cool and fresh, compared to other places I had been, like Seoul and Hanoi. But, then, reality set in.

(2) Disintegration Stage

The second stage of culture shock is the “Disintegration Stage.” This is when we begin to see the bad side of a culture, and we begin to dis-integrate from the locals with whom we had previously been enamored. We step into a mud puddle in the middle of a side-walk, or rather where there is supposed to be a side-walk. We stumble over a rock or into a pot hole. We can’t find what we want in the local markets, and we can’t communicate; so, we can’t ask for directions to find what we want. We notice filthy fields, the broken bottles, the unconscious and unkempt bums lying on the street, the very little vagabonds vying for our money, and the menacing and potentially malignant un-covered manholes. While we are gawking in awe at the atrocities that surround us, we get robbed, usually by pick-pockets. And, please don’t even get me started on the traffic. This stage is accompanied by feelings of fear, anxiety, and caution. Taken to its extreme, expatriates will not wander far from their domicile and spend as little time as possible associating with the locals.

(3) Reintegration Stage

The third stage of culture shock is called, “Reintegration Stage.” This is when we begin to make adjustments to our environment. We decide to walk around the puddles, despite the inconvenience. We feel anger and resentment to our host culture for making us take the extra five seconds to walk around a stinking puddle. We decide to be more vigilant and watch out for bums and un-covered manholes that may lie in our path. We curse, if not vocally, then under our breath for actually having to pay attention to where we are walking. We selfishly shoo away the little vagabonds that charge us double or triple the normal price for their wares. And we curse the culture that would allow little children to have to work for their supper. Heaven forbid! Then, we start to learn the language in order to meet our wants and we complain about it the whole time.

(4) Autonomy Stage

The fourth stage of culture shock is called, “Autonomy Stage.” This is when we begin to see and acknowledge that there is good and bad in all cultures, including our own. We therefore begin to accept puddles and pot holes as a good trade for a privately owned federal reserve bank that makes fiscal policy without any congressional oversight. We begin to accept un-covered manholes as a good trade for failing economy and rising unemployment. We begin to accept that entrepreneurship in young children is a good trade for increased crime.

(5) Interdependence Stage

The fifth and final stage of culture shock is called, “Interdependence Stage”. This is when we become fully bi-cultural. We become fully comfortable in both cultures, and able to function well in both. I don’t think I’m quite there yet. I won’t be until I learn the language. I’m working on it, though. I have achieved fully functional bi-culturality in Korea. Having done it before, I’m confident I can do it again. I envy those who’ve already achieved this level of functionality in Mongolia. I know from experience that it takes a long time to learn a new language, but I’m impatient. During my stay in Korean, I didn’t really feel completely comfortable and fully functional until after having lived there for four years. That’s when I met my wife.

There is another aspect of culture shock, which isn’t a stage of culture shock, but rather a kind of culture shock. It is often referred to as “reverse culture shock”. Reverse culture shock is when one attempts to reintegrate into his/her original culture, and finds difficulty in doing so. I have experienced this kind of culture shock and it was perhaps the most shocking of all. After living in Korea for ten years, China for one, and Poland for one, I decided to go back to my original culture. Whoa! It was tough! Please allow to explain.

There is a saying: “You can never home.” I understand that now. Koreans are hard to get to know, but once you get to know them, they are very faithful and loyal friends. In America, making friends is easy, but they may not be sincere. Some are what we call ‘fair-weather friends’. The concept of a fair-weather friend is foreign to Koreans. Once they let you into their circle, you become like family. Yes, I know that that can happen in America, too, but not as often. And, speaking of family, the whole concept of family is different. In Korea, parents take care of their children as long as necessary. They do not kick their children out of the proverbial nest until the children are completely self-sufficient. In turn, when the parents become elderly, the children take care of the parents. In America, parents are eager to push their children out of the nest; and when the parents get old, the children put their parents into a convalescent home. Koreans find such practices incomprehensible.

When, my wife left me with an infant to care for, I wanted to move back in with my parents, or siblings. This was unacceptable. I was told to get a job, move into my own apartment, and put my infant son in the hands of strangers while I worked. To be fair, I was offered financial support, but that’s not what I wanted. I wanted to have familial support. Was I too Koreanized? Perhaps so. Perhaps, had I never left my own culture, I never would have asked to be taken in when my wife left. Perhaps I would have been too proud to go back and live with mom and dad.

I’m still quite new here in Mongolia, and I don’t know Mongolian culture all that well, but I suspect that the Mongolians look upon family and friendship much the same way as the Koreans. Only time will tell. 

Get more advice.

Leon's NEW Business Model © 2014 to present
  (Applies to all Businesses, including Expat Businesses)


Legal Disclaimer:
I, Leon, Webmaster of Leon's Planet came up with this New Business Model via my dreams (i.e., in dreamland).  Any similarity to already existing business models is purely coincidental and NO theft of intellectual property has occurred here.



I am a licensed, professional educator.  (See my CV).  In education, fairly recent studies have shown that cooperation works better in education than competition.  The traditional education model is such that each learner is in direct competition with each other learner.  Studies have shown that when learners cooperate, their learning increases.  Learners are happy, teachers are happy, and schools are happy.  It is a win-win-win scenario.  In theory, it sounds great, but in practice, I found that learners were not always thrilled with cooperating with their peers.  So, I invented the cooperative-competitive model of education, which allows learners to cooperate in teams, and compete against other teams of their peers.

I woke up this morning (June 24, 2014), to a dream that suggests we employ the cooperation model to the business sector.  I thought, "What a great idea!"

How it works:

It works best with businesses that are NOT in direct competition with each other.  I am a believer in the free market and in competition for the benefit of the consumer.  However, what if we could devise a similar cooperative-competitive model as aforementioned, only let's do it in the business sector.

I propose that businesses that are NOT in the same market, actually cooperate with each other for mutual benefit.

What are the benefits of this model?

Surely, you see some of the benefits of this model already.  Let me share some of the benefits that I see (and have experienced).

(1) Shared resources means less overhead.  (You could "pool" your resources and share).

(2) Mutual promotion/advertisement of each other's business.  (Reach a wider consumer-base).

(3) Saves time (and money).

(4) Could share success stories; motivate each other; help and support each other.  [This does not mean "carry" each other].

(5) Share free legal advice, business advice, etc.

and on, and on it goes.

What about me?

In my case, I'm not running a business here.  Yes, I hope to one day make a profit from this website, in advertisements and sponsors, but as of yet, I've consistently, year after year, spent more money than I have taken in.  That said, I am very interested in cooperative ventures.  I am more than willing to do link-exchanges, especially with fellow expat businesses.  If you don't have a website, other "trades" of services can be arranged.  For example, let's say you have a restaurant in UB, and you would like to promote your restaurant.  I can promote it on my website, for let's say a personal discount on food ordered from your restaurant.

If interested, please contact me.

Post Script

Please note that my model is NOT coopertition (AKA: co-opertition).  Coopertition is when companies/businesses in the SAME market cooperate for a time.  My model is exactly the opposite; it suggests that companies/businesses that are NOT in the same market should cooperate as long as it is mutually beneficial.

Expat Charity (Expats giving to & helping charities or NGO's)

I am a BIG BELIEVER in charity work!  We are all eternal souls, here on this planet, having a mortal experience.  [No matter which religious or spiritual background you come from, we can all agree on that].

So, why are we so mean to each other?  How is it "right" that we sit in our warm, dry, relatively plush homes, while others go hungry or homeless?  How can our hearts not bleed at the sight/knowledge that our fellow, spiritual brothers and sisters suffer?

We exapts are generally (not always, but generally) more well-off than the locals.  We are in a position to help.

I encourage people to get involved, even if it is not for an official charity; even if it is just helping somebody on the street.

I don't know which country you are in.  Just do a little research.  If google doesn't provide any good leads to local charity organizations, ask around.  The locals might and if they don't they can find out.

Again, you don't have to join an organization, or give money.  Beware of professional pan-handlers.  I don't like to support that way of life.

Feel the joy that no money can purchase, no drug can give you, and no person can give you.  It's the joy of helping another person.


Fun for Expats
(How to have fun as an expat)

Expat life, without friends and family of our home country, can be lonely and boring.

Some respond to the sudden loneliness with alcohol.  Don't get me wrong.  I like to imbibe occasionally, but there are other ways to have fun.  Here are some ideas:

(1) Buy a bike and go biking around your local area.

(2) Learn the local lingo.  There are many people who would gladly exchange teaching you their local language for you teaching them your language.

(3) Start a local athletic group.

(4) Start a local NGO or charity.

(5) Start a local club (related to your hobby).

(6) First, you might want to see if there are any athletic groups, clubs, or NGOs of interest already in existence.

(7) Join a local expat facebook group.  [If one doesn't exist, start one].

(8) Read.

(9) Get a pet.  [Save a local animal from euthanasia].

(10)  Start a web blog.  [I think Wordpress Blog is free of charge].

The bottom line is get off your duff and get out there and do stuff!

Expat Humor

- A Brit going to Australia:

A British visitor was stopped by customs at Melbourne airport was asked if he had a criminal record, and replied that he didn’t realise you still had to have one to get in!

(Source; please be aware that some of the jokes are off-color may be offensive)

- Which Foreign Food is Best for You?
The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British.
On the other hand, the French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British.
The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British.
The French and Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British.
Eat & drink what you like. It's speaking English that kills you.

(Source; please be aware that some of the jokes are off-color may be offensive)

Truth is stranger than Fiction:

- Notice From Ministry of Fish and Wildlife in MOZAMBIQUE


Due to the rising number of human - lion encounters, the Ministry of Fish and Wildlife, is advising hikers, hunters, fishermen and any motor cyclists that use the out-of-doors in a recreational or work-related function to take extra precautions while in the bush.

We advise the outdoorsmen to wear little noisy bells on clothing so as to give advanced warning to any lions that may be close by you so you don't take them by surprise.

We also advise anyone using the out-of-doors to carry 'Pepper Spray' with him or her in case of an encounter with a lion.

Outdoorsmen should also be on the watch for fresh lion activity, and be able to tell the difference between the spore of lion cubs and adult lions. Lion cub droppings are small and contain berries and fur. Adult lion droppings have bells in it, and smell of pepper.

Enjoy your stay in

For more humor, click here.


"Engrish.com" started out many years ago as a place for funny Japlish (Japanese English)...signs mostly, but also post cards and stationery as well.  Now, it has evolved into strange and humorous English from all over the world, with people submitting their own photos.  I love it!

Here is a sample of a Chinese menu.  Please click on the photo to go to the site.

The next one is a sign from a small town super market in China.  It was above the dried fruit stand. (I was the photographer).

And let's not only pick on China  This one from Japan, cracks me up!

All FEMANs to the LEFT please!  Only "Male Men" to the right!

Click the photo for more Japlish sites.

Languages for Expats

I, Leon, teach the following:

< Korean >                     <  Chinese  >                     < Mongolian >

Just click on the link and start learning the language.

The best way to learn the lingo of your present location is to arrange a language exchange with one of the locals.  I do that all the time.

Networking for Expats

There are a lot of ways that expats can connect.  Facebook often has expat groups by country.  If there isn't one, you can create one for your location.

Perhaps the most successful online (and offline) expat organization is "Internations".  I'm not fond of them, because they wouldn't let me start any of my own groups, even though I paid to become an albatross member.  However, despite my personal objections, they are quite popular.

There are other expat websites out there.  Some have come and gone.  It's a difficult market, but Internations seems to have done well.

News for Expats

Each and every country has English newspapers, both on and offline.  These are primarily published for the expat market.  You can google your country's local English news.

Here are some general expat news sites:

The Telegraph has an Expat Section on their News Site.

Expatblog's Expat News.



Leon's Links for Expats in the Far East

Xpats in China
Xpats in Japan
Xpats in Korea
Xpats in Vietnam
Xpats in Mongolia
Expats in China Links 4 Expats Official Gov't Website New Hanoian
(for Expats in Hanoi)
Teach Mongolia
China Expat Expat Travel Guide Korean Food Expat Vietnam M.E.E.T. in U.B.
facebook group
Chinglish Japlish Konglish HCMC Blog
(HCMC=Ho Chi Minh City)
Mongol News
Study Chinese Study Japanese Study Korean Study Vietnamese Study Mongolian
China Chronicles
my life in China
Expat Blog Korean Chronicles
my life in Korea
My Viet Blog My Mongol Meanderings
Chinese Festivals Japanese Festivals Korean Festivals Vietnamese Festivals Mongolian Festivals
CCTV Tokyo Expat Korean Origins X
China Daily Allo Expat Forum MIGRANT Workers Thanh Nien News Mongol Classifieds
Xin Hua News Escape Artist Marmot's Hole
An Expat's Blog
Vietnam Net Lang. Exchange









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Roald Dahl



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Leon's Planet dot com  is an educational website with over 200 pages.  © from 1997 to present time.  Contact Webmaster

"Love is all there is;  Everything else is entropy." (Leon)

Love gives you energy and healing. (Leon)