“‘Cause I got friends in low places, where the whiskey drowns, and the beer chases the blues away, and I’ll be okay.” – Garth Brooks
Remember when I was offered that job teaching English in Thailand but decided to hold out for the job in South Korea? Well, one of the reasons I wanted to hold out for the second job is because I don’t know anyone in Thailand, but I already knew a handful of people in South Korea prior to moving here. My long-time, good friend, Blythe, moved here last November to teach English, and she is actually the one who planted the “Apply to teach English in South Korea!” seed in my head this past December. Knowing that I would already have one of my closest friends there waiting for me who would also be willing to show me the ropes and introduce me to new people was a huge incentive for me to apply. So I did, and now that I’m here, Blythe has been extremely helpful when it comes to settling into my new life in South Korea: She picked me up from the airport, helped me find my new apartment, and taught me how to work my appliances since the instructions are all in Korean; she lives ten minutes away from me, so she has shown me around our neighborhood, how the bus system works, and how to get to places where I can buy food and necesseties for my new home away from home.
What Blythe has also been doing is introducing me to tons of new people here: two of her good friends, Melissa and Michelle, as well as a bunch of other really awesome native English teachers. I’m able to see a lot these new friends every week at either dinner outings, or the foreigners’ bar that they–and now I–frequent.
The second way to meet new friends here is through swing dancing. Included in the handful of people I knew before I came here is an awesome lindy hopper named Nalla; Nalla and I met in 2009 when he came to Sacramento for a dance event and have kept in touch ever since through Facebook and Twitter. Now that I’m living here, Nalla has been super helpful with introducing me to the amazing lindy hop scene here; he even hosted a jam for me my first night out social dancing!
My third way to meet new friends is through my co-workers– in particular, my main co-teacher, Ye-Ji. Ye-Ji is my age and she lives about 15 minutes away from me. One of the first things Ye-Ji said to me once I got here was, “We be together, always.” I’ve found that that was her way of saying, “We’re going to hang out all the time and be the best of friends!” Not only has Ye-Ji been helping me at school, showing me around, and teaching me about the Korean culture/language, she also plans fun outings for us to do outside of school.
Last Monday she planned a dinner outing for us and the other 3rd grade teachers at our school.
Last Saturday, she planned a fun day for us in Seoul that involved going to Olympic Park, and then to a baseball game. It was really fun to meet Ye-Ji’s friends from college, who turned out to be very sweet. And they could even speak some English!
I really can’t express how lucky I am that I have not just one, but three social groups here in South Korea to help me get to know new people and make new friends. I am forever grateful for Nalla, Ye-Ji, and Blythe especially for all of their help with getting me settled in. Without them, leaving my life and all of my loved ones behind in Sacramento would have been so much harder than it already has been.