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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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Making Friends in Korea – TL;DR

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  1. Since you’re not teaching anymore, how do you get your visas and what kind of visas do you have?

    4 years ago
  2. I got very confused for a moment why a TL:DR because I thought it was Friday. Woohoo to late night partying on a Tuesday night because tomorrow is the 4th of July and no work tomorrow :D

    4 years ago
  3. Whenever you guys cut off about the baby thing, it’s making me think that Martina is already pregnant or something. hahaha jk

    4 years ago
  4. kekeke, yeah this “Wow~ there is a foreinger!” happen to me in korea very offen (tall, blond = easy to spot.) At the beginning it creeped me a bit, but now its normal. You stand up in the subway and you will hear if there is another foreigner on the sub. =D My korean friend find it funny that other foreigners get more exciting to see a forgeiner than koreans.

    4 years ago
  5. in chicago, ive actually made a ton of korean friends searching for japanese friends to practice language exchange, they introduced me to their english school classmates and invited me to parties and everyone was really interested in me because im one of the few american friends they’ve made outside of school. so im hoping when i go to japan and korea, i can hook back up with everyone and they’ll take care of me :)

    4 years ago
  6. When my mom was living in Korea she was a hair designer so I think she made friends by talking to her customers. But most of her friends she met through church. Also, maybe it was just my mom but she was friends with any age people. Maybe I’m wrong, I can’t remember clearly. >_< Well maybe you are right, both my parents' best friends were their school buddies.

    This is from a Korean point of view, by the way.

    4 years ago
  7. Making friends? EASY… Get your phone. Get some Kpop. Turn up the volume.
    I made about 3 unnies doing that with my friend xD since it’s normal for us to be blasting kpop music randomly anyways. We find the closest person and play the music to wait for their reactions.

    Strategy Recap:
    *playing SHINee~Sherlock and dancing a bit too much like Key*
    indonesian fan: IS THAT SHINee?!?!?!
    me&friend: Ah yeah! SHINee! Do you like them?
    I.F.: I LOVE BIG BANG! TOP! WHOOT!
    me&friend: OMG US TWO!
    *New friend, MADE.*

    life story, told.

    4 years ago
  8. If you’re enjoying Settlers that much, you’d probably love Ticket to Ride. There’s even a fan-made Canadian expansion! http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgameexpansion/123300/ticket-to-ride-canada-fan-expansion-for-ticket-to
    (yes, that url is complete.) They probably have it here: http://www.boardm.co.kr/shop/main/index.php

    4 years ago
  9. Martina your hair is very SHINee in this video haha <3

    4 years ago
  10. I wish you did have kids so we could hear your perspective on certain topics. I’m married with two little ones and am wondering if english speaking daycare for one and preschool for another is affordable on two incomes. Or if its better for one parent to stayhome.

    4 years ago

  11. The same thing can happen with making Korean friends: they’re excited to see a foreigner and are excited to speak English.” i personally think that is only true if u are a NON-ASIAN foreigner. (example: american of chinese descent). I was in Seoul a few weeks back with my family and no Koreans approached us. We easily walked past everything as if we were Koreans and everyone else treated us as Koreans (or if they discovered otherwise, immediately speak mandarin) BECAUSE we look Asian. This may sound a bit nitpicky and i’m a great fan of u two so don’t take this the wrong way but i think whenever u two talk about foreigners, u may want to make it clear what kind. Caucasian foreigner? African-American foreigner? European foreigner…..etc etc.

    4 years ago
    • I taught in Korea for two years in the same city as Martina and Simon and though it might be slightly harder for non-asians to make korean friends but I think that really depends on the person. My best friend was actually Asian-Canadian and had no problem making friends with foreigners or Koreans. Though he needed to approach foreigners instead of the other way around, it was as simple as him introducing himself. And for making friends with Koreans it was the same. Once they found out he was foreigner and that was the reason they wanted to be his friend (English), they were just as excited. Korean are used to the different asian ethnicity they meet actually being from their country of ancestry and not immediately just to them being from a English speaking country. They are just as likely to meet someone from Japan or China than America ect, actually more so.

      4 years ago
  12. You guys are sooo mean :( lol but I love your videos so its alright…tee-hee.

    4 years ago
  13. It makes me really happy that I can understand what you’re saying. I guess 5 years of learning French hasn’t been for nothing!

    4 years ago
  14. ” The thing of having babies………” How could you guys do this! It’s torturing!

    4 years ago
  15. i am a vipblackjack baby spica-taculor(totally made that up don’t know spica’s fan name ) and more ohhh and a YG STANNN

    4 years ago
  16. My husband says, “Can we please play Settlers of Catan with them?!?!” We live 30 minutes away!

    4 years ago
  17. I’ve been able to make many friends by going to a taekwondo studio where the instructor speaks English.

    4 years ago
  18. I’ll be you guises friend! I live here fulltime and only have Korean friends, I would like some foreign friends! Gotta catch em all! haha

    4 years ago
  19. MoA

    OMG TROLL ENDING AGAIN
    XD

    4 years ago
  20. I tend to think I am suuuuper awkward interacting with people (but I’m sometimes just hyper self-critical like that >.>) I usually make friends through other friends or by cracking (probably very lame) jokes during lectures at school or breaks at work. I do want to teach overseas if I don’t get into Teachers College and probably even after I get my BE I would teach overseas because there are seriously no teaching jobs in Ontario unless you can teach French…or Math…or Science, none of which are my majors. How hard was it moving essentially half-way across the world? And would you have ever considered it if you were going alone?

    4 years ago
  21. Haha, the same was in Japan, even as an exchange student, i was pretty lonely since i didn’t speak japanese for the first 3 months.. And when i saw a foreigner i was like Here Here!!

    4 years ago
  22. I love you guys! I am half korean and have never met my relatives I because my mom (Korean) passed away when I was 13, but I love the food and try to hold on to anything Korean that I can. I have no idea about the Korean culture except some memories when I was younger so watching your videos has been an awesome adventure and has taught me things I would otherwise have never known. Thanks for your videos and I hope to be as happy with someone some day as you two are! Keep up the GREAT work!!!

    4 years ago
  23. I WANT TO BE YOUR BEST FRIEND!

    4 years ago
  24. Are you having a baby?!?!?! Stop the suspense!!!!!

    4 years ago
  25. I WANNA BE YOUR GUISE’S BESTFRIEND ……WE COULD SHARE LUNCHES AND MY MOMS KIMCHI AND TALK ABOUT KPOP AND STUFF….not that i don’t have any friends or anything…. no ….cuz I’m totally popular and stuff………..(*forever alone* D:)…..

    4 years ago
  26. Ahhghg why you do that about the “babies” topic? I think you both are young & have a few years more to think about having children, so i’m not in this “Y U NO HAVE BABIES” fever that’s going around. But It kinda bothers me that abrupt cut on the video because I’m just to curious about it.
    I love you guys, you’re awesome, I love your humor. I’ll send you some stuff (so tasty & sexy stuff *WTF?!*) soon. Argentina loves you~♥

    *sorry for the bad english, It’s a bad combination of high school level of English and Google Translator… I can’t help it*

    4 years ago
    • Your English is fabulous!! Don’t be so hard on yourself! I’m actually minoring in British Literature at university, so if you ever feel like asking me any questions about grammar or if you think something’s wrong and need an extra eye to look over it, I’d love to help you out! Learning English is a bit of a bear. :) My Spanish is actually very poor, I haven’t spoken it in five years… :/:/ So maybe we can help each other!! :D

      4 years ago
      • Haha, yeah, I’m not sure if there’s messaging on disqus, but I friended you on facebook!! (My name’s Haley Forte!! omg, foreigners UNITE)
        Really? That’s so unfortunate, but that’s how college is in the US. Usually, our high schools are public and you have “zones”. For example, if you live in the more swanky side of town you’ll be zoned for one high school, but if you’re in the more crappy side of town, you might be zoned for another school altogether. Unfortunately, It can become very income- divided. :/:/
        I’ve been taking French for a number of years now (4 to be exact~~ and I really, really like it! ^_^ ), it’s get’s really confusing sometimes because I’m trying to learn Korean on top of the Japanese I’ve learned from watching TV!!! It’s crazy!!

        4 years ago
  27. YAH ! Talking about Quebec in the article ! ♥ I love your videos, and I’d love to see more TL;DRs ♥ I’m a big fan, and I’m the owner of the unique Spudgy page on Facebook ♥ Thanks for being awesome !

    4 years ago
  28. What made you guys initially want to go to Korea to teach? I think you said you really didn’t know much about the culture until you got there, so was it just random chance and opportunity that made you decide to live and work there?

    4 years ago
    • I think this was explained in another video. If I find it I will link you. Simon used to work at a school in Canada that was Korean or something like that and when GEPIK or something went recruiting they signed up. Its an older video.

      4 years ago
  29. SETTLER’S OF CATAN !! Wahh, such a good game. Once you play it, its hard to go back. ;P

    4 years ago
  30. Catan is so epic! Best game ever XD

    and for the Halloween song, is it “C’est l’halloween”? OMG I remember learning that song in elementary school! Now it’s going to be stuck in my head though DX

    4 years ago
  31. VIETNAM!!!

    4 years ago
  32. I was in Korea last week staying with a friend, and she brought me to a social event called a CouchSurfer’s meeting. I’d never heard of the kind of thing before, but it turned out to be a gathering of people in a bar or cafe in a city just for the purpose of getting to know each other and have good conversation! While most of the people who attended the meeting were travelers from different parts of the world, there were also many people who were foreigners living and working in Korea who were there. There were also quite a few Korean locals who were there for the purpose of making foreign friends and learning/improving their English! Everyone was there with the intention of making new friends and acquaintances, and a quick Google search can quickly point you in the direction of current CouchSurfing events. Just a heads up for anyone bold enough to make friends this way! :D

    4 years ago
    • Just wondering, what is the general age range of the people at these events? Are they in their 20s, 30s, 40s etc?Because as Martina stated earlier in this video, age really matters! :)

      4 years ago
  33. Dear Simon,
    Will you be my best friend? :D

    4 years ago
  34. simon, martina…? Can I be your best friend?? *puppy eyes*

    4 years ago
  35. You have CATAN!!! DId you bring it to Korea? My husband and I love board games but cant find any here!

    4 years ago
  36. best friends woo hoo omg also 2nd post hiiiiiii!!!!!!!

    4 years ago
  37. Sorry, just to point out there are a few typos in the article ;/

    4 years ago
  38. yaaay nice :D

    4 years ago
  39. I feel this way living in korea. I don’t have very many friends in korea that I didn’t meet through fandom and I wish I could make friends that weren’t fandom friends. To make it worse, I’ve moved far away from my old friends in Suwon and I have a hard time making friends in my new area because I’m pretty much the only foreign teacher in my school…

    BUT the best way to meet new people is really just going up to random foreigners. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be many where I am either D: or maybe i just don’t see them?????

    4 years ago
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