I’m writing this having just spent a week in isolation after catching Covid. Obviously, this was not ideal, but I have to admit that having an excuse to rest for a week was quite nice. Before coming to Korea, I spent a lot of time by myself, and although I love keeping busy, it can get a bit overwhelming. Especially in a new environment. Having said that, though, I am very happy to be out now! Enough Covid talk; let me talk about what I was doing before that!
Classes finally started and have been going well. It is pretty much the same every day, but my teachers are lovely, and my classmates are quiet but friendly. Aside from that, I made a new friend at a show I went to. It is very out of character for me to go to something by myself, let alone talk to someone new out of the blue, so I am proud of myself for that!
Zoe, Jackson, and I have also been making the most of our time by attending a variety of different shows. First, we took a quick trip to Busan to see the musical Kinky Boots. It is one of my all-time favorites, and the others graciously came along with zero knowledge of the story. Being that it was completely in Korean, I am glad I knew the story ahead of time, but it was a fun (expensive) way to practice our language comprehension. The short time we spent in Busan was also very lovely. We went to both Gwangalli Beach and Haeundae Beach. Busan has a population of 4.5 million people but compared to Seoul’s 10 million, it practically felt like a beach town. This was further emphasized by the gull sound effects and beach theme decor in the subway stations.
On New Year’s weekend, we also had lots to do. On Friday night, we started by going to the K-pop group CIX’s Concert. This was my first K-pop concert, and it was a very interesting experience. The group themselves are very talented and great entertainers, but I was quite shocked by the differences in concert culture between Korea and NZ. I am used to having a groove and singing along, but that wasn’t the vibe here. People stood still and only cheered at the designated ‘fan chant’. After the concert, I met up with my friend and went to a drag show in Itaewon (My 4th drag show so far, but who’s counting). In particular, there is a very famous Drag Queen in Korea called Nana Youngrong Kim, whom we went to see. I had actually met her the night before, but it was great to see her perform again.
On Saturday, the adventures continued as Zoe, Jackson and I once again ventured outside of Seoul for a show. This time to Suwon to see the Street Man Fighter Concert. Street Man Fighter is a popular Korean Street dance show which I watched earlier this year. The show was super fun, but if there is one thing we have learned from both of these concerts, it is that they WILL RUN OVER TIME. After three and a half hours, we had to leave during the final goodbye stage because we had to catch the last bus back to Seoul. As it was New Year’s eve, we wanted to meet our friends in Hongdae for the new year; however, although we were technically in Hongdae, we were still in the subway watching the doors open as the clock ticked over. To keep a long story short, we had a fun New Year’s celebration in Hongdae, and I caught the first train home at 5 am for the first and last time.
Overall, I am proud of everything I have been able to achieve in my first month in Korea. I have tried to simultaneously push my comfort zone and find a sense of routine and normality. Now that I’m free from isolation, I am ready for what 2023 has in store for me!