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How To: Make Friends in Korea

Have you seen my last article? You can check it out here. As always, a large portion of your questions can be answered by going to my list of resources page here, or the contact page here. There are article-specific resources at the bottom of the page.

I love and advocate for solo travel, especially by millennials when at all possible, though one does have to recognize the unique barriers to entry that millennials, however, the hardest part of traveling alone is building a support system and a life that has meaningful relationships in it. Once the excitement wears off, being in Korea can be really tough if you don't make friends. Luckily for you, through trial error, I've learned some (almost) foolproof ways to make new friends while you are in Korea. While a few of these tips are generalizable, some of them are Korea-specific. Just remember if you're feeling really lonely, reach out to someone! You'll be surprised how compassionate people are, especially in your time …

The Ant*cipation

God, the antic*pation is killing me. A few days ago, I found out my trip is not September 1st to February 13th which has been listed on the official Study Abroad office webpage (picture below) the idea of which is the only thing that has been keeping me from freaking out completely about this trip, but rather is from September to late June. This has so so many implications financially and logistically but is one of many anticipated obstacles. Luckily for those bitches, I've got a welcome mat at my door, and a vast wine selection for them to select from amidst some quiet intellectual conversation. 
Email that shaved 2.5 years off of my life this morning 

Image from my university's Study Abroad Page
    When I get back from Busan, I will be a year older and maybe if you cross your fingers for me, I will be at least a year wiser. I would have missed my mother's 60th birthday, my best friends' 21st birthdays, Christmas, my favorite holiday-Valentine's Day. I will be missing out on countless others milestones. New significant others, tears I couldn't wipe, and comfort I couldn't give because I wasn't there. I. Am. Freaking. OUT. If you think my Taurus Sun, Pisces Moon ass is ready to be that far away from my best friends or my mom, you don't know me at all.  All I could do is cry (or dry heave as it may) over the loss of this time with the life I have so carefully built for myself.

    After the loss of the time with a life I have built allows me to gain time with a life I haven't lived yet, maybe one that could bring a happiness I'm unsure if I have ever had. My coworkers, friend's parents, and strangers keep giving me their opinions on me leaving everything- most of my stuff, a well-paying job, and people I love- to be in a strange setting whose homogeneity amongst other norms will ensure that I consistently stick out. They say things like "Why not somewhere in Western Europe?" and "Aren't you worried since you don't know the language?" You know what? Outside of the innate xenophobia and racism laced in each question asked, I am petrified. Every time I think about it I feel like I'm gonna die, but then guess what?! I don't die! Every single time. I may have a natural inclination that tells me to lean away from the things that make my heart race and breathing shorten, but I want to be a person who leans into those things. The best part about being alive is that a lot of the time, we have the opportunity to exercise choice. I've spent too long allowing those big downs make choices for me that prevented me access to the highest highs or make me think I didn't have choice at all, but I do!

    So, sure, maybe I didn't have to go to a different continent alone, without knowledge of the language or culture, but I have a feeling it will do the trick.  I can try something new because I want to and for no other reason. I let the ant*cipation try and kill me, but the freedom (and the privilege do NOT get me wrong) to exercise a choice of this magnitude strengthens me in a way that keeps the ant*cipation at bay. I am protected from fear by knowing that everything in life is either a blessing or lesson. And if I die in South Korea, an idea that has been (inappropriately) suggested to me several times, at least they can say I was behind the steering wheel of this ugly lil thing we call life.


Thumbnail photo by Xavier Sotomayor on Unsplash