I believe a lot of people who know me would say that I’m a friendly person who enjoys meeting new people, so because of these character traits, I’ve never had a hard time making friends. When I lived in Sacramento, I had many friends who came from different social circles: dance friends, school friends, and work friends. Not only did I have a lot of friends, but I had a lot of friends whom I connected with. In Sacramento, I had friends whom I could talk with for hours and call on when I was sad; I had friendships I didn’t have to put work or energy into because they were solid, natural, and effortless.
And then I moved to Korea.
When I first arrived here, I didn’t have to put in effort when it came to making friends because I already had a few friends waiting for me: One of my best friends from home, Blythe, had been here for five months already, so she introduced me to her close friends here, Michelle and Melissa, as well as friends whom she saw at the neighborhood foreigner’s bar weekly. Blythe, Michelle, Melissa, and I became a close foursome: we’ve bonded over weekly dinner dates, day-trips to Seoul, and new experiences that come with living in a foreign country. Even though I’ve never felt a close bond to Michelle and Melissa like the one I have with Blythe (we’ve been friends for six years), I still consider them to be my ‘Korea besties.’
The hardest thing about moving to a new country and making friends with other foreign teachers is everyone arrives at different times, so everyone leaves at different times. I didn’t realize this would affect me until Michelle went home to Canada at the end of August. Once Michelle left, it hit me that Melissa and Blythe’s contracts would be ending soon, too: Melissa is going back to New York on October 10th, and Blythe is going back to California in mid-November.
My close friends are leaving, so what this means is I have to make new friends, and fast. I do have some other friends whom I see once or twice a week at our neighborhood foreigner bar, but none whom I’m really close to like I am with Michelle, Melissa, and especially Blythe. I feel like the reason for this is because I’m in a different place in life than most of the people who come to Korea to teach English: most of my friends are single, like to drink a lot, and stay out late on the weekends and even the weeknights; I’m in a serious relationship, I don’t like staying up late, and I don’t like hanging out at bars anymore. Essentially, most of the people I’ve met so far are here to party and have a good time, and I’m here to gain good work experience and save money. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with their reasons for being in Korea; I’m just saying it’s hard to connect with people I don’t have a lot in common with.
I’m going to keep trying to make good friends in Korea, though– I have to, otherwise it’s going to be a very lonely winter coming up. I do have some good Korean friends here; I just prefer foreigners a little more because with foreigners, there aren’t language barriers and cultural differences. I don’t know what’s going to happen with my existing and (hopefully) new friendships ahead. All I know is I really miss my friends from back home: I miss our Sing Star parties and wine nights; I miss our inside jokes and moments of bonding; I miss them.