Socializing in Korea

June 21, 2011

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I’m sure a lot of people picked up on the loneliness written into my past blog entries. While I really don’t consider myself depressed, yes, I do feel a little lonelier in Korea than I believe I would back in the US. Part of the reason was my own choosing: a small town in the middle of nowhere. There are FOUR, count ’em, four native English speakers in my town, including myself. There is ONE Family Mart, to give you an indication of size. One of the native speakers I have not seen since I arrived in August 2010. The other two I have run into on occasion, and we do spend some time together in Uljin. Their predecessors, however, were completely oblivious to me – not once did I see them shopping at the five-day market, buying food, or even in the gym.

Uljin, on the other hand, has a few more expats handy. We’ve got our South Africans, Canadians, Americans, Brits… lost our Aussies recently. Although I don’t advocate you, a prospective teacher in Korea, hanging out with someone for the primary purpose of speaking English, there’s nothing wrong with testing the waters first. There are some people I get along with more than others. There are some I just don’t want to be around (not so much anymore, though).

The beauty of a small town is having fewer options. Fewer choices to plague your mind, whether that be weekend outings or choosing with whom to spend your time. With so few people around, I don’t have to split my time between one group of friends and another. There’s just the one group. And we are pretty organized and spontaneous in terms of finding things to do in the backwoods. The Aussie couple used to host movie and beer-tasting nights at their flat. I contribute by having Texas Hold ‘Em at my place on Saturdays once a month. Every so often there’s trivia, improv, beach days, BBQ, chess, or just chilling watching a movie. All well and good.

My point being, although I do spend a considerable amount of time alone in my Korean apartment, and I do long for the company of the fairer sex, I’ve had some great experiences with some great people these past ten months:

1. This was the first year I spent the holidays away from home; the Aussie couple hosted everyone for an evening of Secret Santa, food, games, and entertainment.

2. I could have been alone on my birthday. Instead, someone in the group pushed for trivia night at my place (nice, considering I couldn’t have met them in town with my schedule).

3. We’ve all crashed on the floor of a love motel in Gyeongju. Really, who hasn’t at this point?

I do have some Korean acquaintances as well, but most of the native population in Uljin is… OLD. No one even remotely in my age group. As such, I have maybe three Koreans I enjoy spending time with, and that’s fine for the moment. I’d like to think I’m a traveler who identifies with the locals, learns their ways, and slowly becomes integrated into their culture, but no one is John Smith. At this point, the best I can hope for is to show respect in my daily routine and enjoy the time spent with people I can understand. It’s not much to ask.

One Response to Socializing in Korea

  1. noe on June 26, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Gotta say I really like reading the posts you got plus the layout of the site is really nice and easy reference!

    Hope to see new vids on youtube soon and hope to be there this august to do some as well.

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