During my orientation back in August 2010, one of the presenters started talking about how it was a great idea to make really strong friends with other foreigners and join the foreign community to do things together and just basically develop strong friendships. I kind of rolled my eyes at this, thinking that I would rather have friends with Koreans: the locals. Before I moved to Korea, I had this idea in my head that I really wanted to get into the Korean culture and make a lot of Korean friends. I had been warned that there are 3 types of Koreans (or any nationality if you’re working in a foreign country): those that want to be friends, those that want to just practice English, and those that don’t want anything to do with foreigners. Despite these three categories, I felt pretty good about what was going to happen.
First Few Months (2010)
When I first moved to my placement, I was quick to realize that there were no locals around my age. The people in my village were either old grandparents, parents, or children. The twenty or even thirty-somethings were nowhere to be seen except for teachers at my school. As a result, I could only turn to my ‘foreigner community.’ In my village, there were only two other foreigners at the time. I became quick friends with one and on peaceful terms with the other. Needless to say, I ended up going out to other larger towns/cities on weekends to be with more foreigners in better locations.
I had already moved to a larger town (a very small city) but was still traveling every weekend to hang out with my other friends. Unfortunately, I had a fall-out with one of my best friends so I had to turn to the foreign community near my apartment. There are A LOT more foreigners here and we get together 2-4 times a week for drinks, bbqs, games, and dinners. I love the majority of the foreigners here and I look forward to hanging out with them every weekend.
What’s nice about this city is that there is a university here with twenty-something Koreans who are keen to join in on foreigner company. On at least one night of the week, there will be two-five Koreans that will join the company of the foreigners and join in or listen to some conversation. I’ve spent a little additional time with some of the Koreans that have joined our social circle. I have also met a twenty-something Korean in the village that I work in, and we meet weekly to talk. (I think we’re becoming friends even though it was initially set up as English practice.) Although I can’t be 100% sure if I’m only the token foreigner/person to practice English, I feel like I’ve finally made some Korean friends.