After having been in Seoul for a couple months now I feel quite settled. I’ve worked out routine, I’ve made solid friends and continue to build new relationships.
I think that the environment that we have found ourselves in is quite fascinating. I’m meeting so many different people from around the world, and learning about them and their culture has been fascinating. I currently study a bachelor of global studies so this interaction of different cultures and ethnicities is right up my alley.
I began studying global studies because of my interest in languages and how learning languages allows us to interact with the world differently. Everyone in my class is studying Korean for different reasons. An interest in K-pop, a Korean parent, to go to university; learning Korean means that they are able to further their goals.
Learning Korean is also the reason many of us were able to become friends. I remember the first day in class, I desperately wanted to talk to people but was so afraid they wouldn’t understand my accent or that I wouldn’t know what they were saying. And you know what? That first day, I didn’t talk to anyone. But slowly as our lessons continued, and we got more comfortable within class, we began talking during the breaks (not a lot, I wouldn’t describe my class as chatty) and inviting each other for meals outside of class.
In my class, there’s one other person that speaks English. So you would think that we would’ve gravitated together but really I’ve become closer with the Chinese and Japanese girls in my class because despite the initial language barrier, learning Korean together has meant we are less afraid of making mistakes when we speak and are more supportive of each other’s efforts to speak. It also forces us to use the things we learn in class; the day after we learn a new grammar point one of my friends will make a point of asking us questions using the new grammar point, which is a fun way of practicing but also learning more about each other
So far I have experienced more than I ever expected to. Other than going out with new friends, I’ve had a lot of new experiences with the people I came with. We’ve gone to a few concerts, and I’ve taken away a few things from this. Firstly, K-pop idols really are just dudes working their 9 -5, and also don’t make plans for after; the concert will go over time. In one example: we travelled from Seoul to Suwon (about an 1 hour 30 minutes) to go to a concert that was supposed to finish at 9.30pm but ended up going till 11pm. We had to catch the last bus back to Seoul and so ended up leaving before the performers were offstage.
Another thing: if you don’t know the K-pop group, I would recommend not going to their concert. It is not the same experience as going to a unknown artists experience back in New Zealand. I went to the CIX concert with some friends who were fans and I felt intense imposter syndrome. The fans are intense. We had to line up in ticket purchase order and if you were in the wrong place they were not afraid to tell you to go to the back. The concert was good, K-pop idols are very good at what they do, but maybe save the tickets for people that know the group.