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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 …

Y'all: All My Money Got Stolen and Here's How I'm Dealing

Hey! Long time no see. After reading this, you can check out my last post here and the Ultimate List of Resources here.

   So, this website is definitely not popular enough for clickbait, which is how I can say a few weeks ago, someone in Maryland took every last penny I had to my name. I'm talking every dime. My emergency savings, my recent paycheck, and yes, you guessed it, all the money I'd saved up for my upcoming trip abroad. Yeah, I was pretty sad for a while, but I'm doing alright now. As of authoring this, I am 49 days out from my flight to Shanghai, then Qingdao, then finally Busan. To have lost all of my money this soon to the commencement of my year-long trip was not the best situation of course, but, I'm doing just fine and here is how.

   1. Financially, I Prepped For This. 
Listen, I'm a little greedy. It's just how I am. So even if I had all the money to pay out of pocket for my study abroad program, I still applied for scholarships. Why pay out of pocket when you don't have to? I've talked before about being an alternate for the Boren Scholarship, which covers all expenses for your program from tuition to flights, with a lump-sum stipend payment. The downside is that you must give one year of service to the United States Government in the "national security arena." But that's not all, I was also sure to put myself in a position in which I was to be nominated for the Global Korea Scholarship. Once nominated, these are more often than not awarded to students, and include reimbursement for flights, free insurance, a stipend and a settlement payment. While I am still waiting to hear back from the Korean foreign affairs office, I have been assured by the study abroad office that unless something went wrong with my paperwork, the nomination itself was enough. I will at least get the money back from my flight, which I got from Chicago to Busan for about $300, already a steal, and will already have money to buy the little things when I get there. More so, I applied and received several scholarships coming from my home institution that actually covers tuition (since tuition isn't billed through my Korean school but rather my school in the states). Meaning that without the money I'd saved to go to Busan, tuition, flights, getting settled, and my day-to-day expenses are covered. It's quite a consolation prize.

   2. I Have Budgeting Skills and A Will to Work
So, up until late June, I had two part-time jobs, plus this website and my side hustles. I am now working, wait for it, 75 hours a week formally, not including the side hustles, this website, or the social media and brand development I do on the side. I am now full time at one of those formerly part-time jobs and the other, a research assistant position for which my pay is experience, I am continuing at 35 hours a week. This isn't the most ideal situation while I'm trying to plan the uprooting of my life and also have SO many people I need to see before I leave, but you know what it is? Extra income. Like, double what I was making before. No small feat. Similar to the way that eating less or burning more calories is the only way to lose weight, spending less or making more is the only way to have more money and to be honest, God knows I am not going to be spending any less. So I'm making more and spending the same to get ahead. If you want to double up and make more while also spending less that's great too. I just love Starbucks so much. We all have our cross to bear.

   3. Time to Suck Up That Pride ("Heyyy Mom")
I've talked about having too much pride to ask family for money before. I don't like it. I grew up in a very welcoming home. My mom gave me not only everything she could but essentially everything I wanted within reason (I'm still waiting on that horse I was promised when I was 11). That to say, her holding money over my head or just not giving it to me when I needed it has never crossed my mind. My mother is the most generous person my heart's ever gotten the chance to know. When I turned fifteen, I got a job and I never looked back. Despite our family being perfectly capable, I paid for my gas and outings, my graduation dues, and trips out of town with my friends for spring break. I always advocate for independence when possible and not everyone has the same circumstances that I have had the privilege of having, but for those who have, it's time you think about asking for help. If you are doing everything you can to pay for your trip short of selling body parts, you should ask for help. Share your Amazon wishlist, your Cash app, post on social media, appeal to friends, humble yourself. No matter what they say on their mixtape, no one has ever gotten anywhere on their own, and no matter how bad you want to you can't either! While I always suggest being careful who you lean on, lean on someone, if only for navigating emotionally.

   4. Stay On Top of Your Bank
So, as of now and likely for several more months, my fraud case is "under investigation." While I have to assume that I will never see my money again, you better believe that at least once a week a call up my bank's fraud management company and check. I cannot trust that I will be able to just leave it in their hands. Before I know it, I would've let months go by without having checked in, my file sitting with a thick layer of dust on an overworked employees desk. Most banks are FDIC insured for up to a quarter of a million dollars, but as I read in my contract with my particular credit union, if the bank does not have to even file the claim with the FDIC if they do not have enough evidence that you yourself did not commit the fraud, to which the definition of "enough" is defined by assigned caseworker. That's terrifying and leaves a little too much subjectivity for my liking, which is why, even during my worst days, I am always polite to my caseworker. She's a lovely woman with a husband and 3 kids, 2 of which are right around my age. I know their names, and we have a lovely chat everytime I call. I know my folder isn't getting dusty on her desk and she's a great person who I truly feel cares for me. It makes this whole experience better.

Getting my money back is definitely out of my hands at this point, which I hate, but I can definitely say that I am taking every feasible step to making sure that I am able to continue on my trip as financially stable possible, and with a nice cushion, too. I will more likely than not get all of my money back, but I can't depend on that money for my trip anymore. The best part about money, though? You can always make more.

Wish Me Luck

Thumbnail Photo by Farzad Nazifi on Unsplash