MAKING FRIENDS & MAINTAINING FRIENDSHIPS ABROAD/ IN KOREA
Friends. You can't live with 'em, you can't live without 'em. Trust me, I've tried both. I am quite proud to say I finally learned the value in quality over quantity, in regards to friendships at least (I still try to talk myself out of buying chocolate I don't really like that's on sale instead of my favourite Snickers bar that costs more, but that's besides the point..)
Both studying and living abroad has given me the golden opportunity to meet many people of diverse backgrounds, and make some great friends in cool places. Although the first few weeks, maybe even months, away from home are some of the hardest, it is a pivotal time to set the tone for the rest of your time abroad. It was in these weeks that I made an effort to meet new people, develop relationships and tell both my story and hear that of others. And that's what brings me here...to this blog post. Here, I give you some tips on how to make friends and maintain friendships while abroad.
1. SOCIAL MEDIA IS YOUR BFF - join online communities
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Youtube, Tumblr.... how can one keep up with all this social media. I, for one, love social media and probably could not go a day without using it (along with majority of the millenials today). Not only is it a GREAT TIME WASTER, but it also serves as your perfect wingman. I have exploited the hell out of social media and connected with as many people as possible through online communities. I met two of my bestfriends here in Korea off Facebook and Tinder. Yes, Tinder. It's possible.
Tip - Join online communities through facebook. if you're a blogger, there are private groups connecting bloggers in a certain area to share content, information, tips etc. I've met sooo many cool Youtubers and travel bloggers through these communities. If you're a blogger in Korea, you can join the Facebook group "BLOGGERS IN KOREA" , which I am apart of. There are hundreds of other groups, but I like that this one is smaller in members, meaning it's more intimate and we have all acquainted with one another. If you're a person of colour in Korea, another amazing Facebook group to join is "BROTHAS & SISTAS OF SOUTH KOREA" . I seriously don't know what I would have done without this Facebook group. We share everything from funny videos, to job listings, hair and skincare tips, black cultural events, meetup locations and discussions on current global affairs that affect our community. Seriously, check those links out and JOIN. My social life would be non-existent without them.
2. MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE LOCALS - they are most definitely the plug.
The locals will show you all the great authentic spots to eat, where to shop, how to get places etc. AND, you can learn more about the culture you are living in through them. Making friends with the locals will only enhance your experience abroad and you'll most likely be participating in a cultural exchange without realizing. That's the beauty of living abroad.
3. COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS
I can't lie, I'm a pretty bad communicator. However, keeping in consistent communication with both new friends in your new country and old friends from home is so important. Not only is it good for your mental health (who doesn't like a good venting session), but it will allow you to share your new experiences with others and maintain relationships. Whether you opt to use Skype, Facebook messenger or Whatssapp, send that message AND don't forget to respond to your loved ones (I'm notorious for the no replies.. I'm sorry. I'm just in my own world most of the time...). And lets not forget that it's good for your safety! Let people know where you are, because remember, you are alone in a foreign country and anything can happen.
Tip - Set up a Kakao talk! It's the equivalent to blackberry messenger in Korea. EVERYONE and their mom has it. And you should too. You are able to engage in group chats with contacts on Kakao talk and view other people's "stories" or profiles, making it easy to connect with others. "Hey, we should hang out sometime. What's your kakao talk?" It NEVER fails. I promise you.
And there ya go. A few tips on how to make friends and maintain friendships abroad. Let me know in the comment section your tips and the challenges you face making friends abroad and/or in Korea. And don't forget to check out the video above discussing this topic more in depth. Until next time...
Love & Light,