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Making Friends in Korea – TL;DR

July 4, 2012


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Ok, so, for starters, let’s say that we had some issues in figuring out what to say for this video, because the two of us disagree about this topic slightly. Martina’s of the opinion that making friends in Korea is difficult. I’m of the opinion that making friends in Korea is easy. And we discussed it with each other for a long time before we agreed about what we were going to say in the video.

Our main issue: I think we’re stuck on what the word “difficult” means. See, we mentioned in the video how you’re more likely to talk to strangers here in Korea and make friends that way than you would be back home. I can’t really remember the last time I spoke with a random stranger in Canada and then the two of us hung out. That’s…a bit weird. Here in Korea, though, you sometimes do talk to strangers. If you see another foreigner, you sometimes get excited, and either they’re as excited to see another foreigner as you are, or they remember what it was like to be that excited, and so they might humour you. The same thing can happen with making Korean friends: they’re excited to see a foreigner and are excited to speak English. Seriously: imagine studying a language your whole life and never using it. Oh wait. We did that. We had to learn French back in Canada, and I feel really excited when I go to Quebec (our most French speaking province in Canada). It’s like, “OMG I can read the menu and it’s totally in French…and I can also sing a song about Halloween…in..French…I’VE WASTED MY LIFEEEEEEEE!!!!” *ahem*

Martina’s of the opinion, though, that you can meet people more easily in your home country through your lack of language barrier, and also from your more abundant connections (such as those you have from school and work). These kinds of connections are not as readily available to you here in Korea. Your work, for instance, does not have as many people that are – how do we say – available for friendship. Some of your schools might have more opportunities for frindships, especially if you’re working in afterschool tutoring centers which have a group of foreigners working together. But not all schools are like this. In my situation, I had nothing but older married women with kids as co-teachers, all of whom were very busy. The couple of times that I had a teacher that wasn’t married or with kids, we had a great time! But that was only a temporary teacher. Otherwise: nada. Martina’s school was a bit different, as she explained in the video, and she had more options than I did. Either way, the possibilities of you branching out through your connections in Korea are a lot slimmer, since you have far fewer connections. Fewer connections mean can mean more isolation as you spend time alone in your apartment, take the bus alone, and sit at work alone, come home alone, and so on. But this also happens to people living in their home country. So the question is, which way’s easier to make friends?

I think that, if you’re in Korea and you see other foreigners, you share something in common with them. Being foreigners in Korea is sometimes an opening for conversation. But you probably share more things in common with them, since you both decided to move very far away from your home, friends, and family. It can be your sense of adventure, your interest in Asian culture, your troubles in making lessons plans, your difficulty in finding your way around campus, etc, all of which seem like normal things to have in common with people living abroad. While in your home country, you might not have these immediate icebreakers.

Ah. We’re still torn about the topic. Let us know what you think. Is it easier to make friends while you’re in Korea, or is it not? We didn’t talk much about making friends with Korean people, partly because it’s too generalized a topic for us to be able to say anything about, apart from relating our own experiences, which probably don’t or won’t reflect your experiences, you know? Every Korean person is different, while foreigners in Korea at least have their foreignness in common. Also, it depends on where you’re meeting your new Korean friend, like at your local coffee shop or at a club in Hongdae…two very different results…*eyebrow wiggle* or are they…*eyebrow wiggle*…my eyebrows cramped.



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