In my last post (see here), I mentioned that I really wanted to make Korean friends in order to practice my Korean speaking skills, and that I had already been texting someone through HelloTalk that I had hoped to meet.
Well, it’s been almost a month since then, and a lot has happened!
My university holds a weekly event called International Coffee Hour, where international students and American students can chat with each other and have snacks and coffee. My Korean texting buddy suggested meeting up there, and I agreed.
It was a super crowded event, with about 40 people squished into a very small room, all standing around in groups and trying to hear each other shouting over everyone else. Because of the crowds, it took about half an hour of making small talk with several random groups of people before I finally ended up meeting a Korean person.
This Korean guy (whom I’ll refer to from here on out as DW) introduced himself to me and a couple of other people, and as soon as he mentioned that he was from South Korea, I jumped in and told him (in Korean) that I could speak some Korean, too. He seemed a little in shock, and after chatting for a minute or two, he called over another Korean guy from across the room, presumably to show off the weird white girl who could speak some Korean.
This new Korean guy turned out to be my texting buddy (whom I’ll refer to as SH). The three of us, along with a couple of other random American and Japanese students, chatted for another half an hour or so before the event ended.
That brief interaction ended up being my gateway to a new Korean friend group. I met up with them a few times at the library to study, and during one of those study sessions they invited me to DW’s birthday party celebration at Buffalo Wild Wings that night. I was kind of honored to be invited since I didn’t know them very well.
The birthday party ended up including 5 Korean guys, one of the guy’s Japanese girlfriend, and me. DW introduced me and told them all that I speak better Korean than he does, which is ridiculously far from the truth but still made me feel good about myself haha.
One of the Korean guys actually used to be a student in the English Composition class that I co-teach, so I had met him before in a student-teacher relationship, but thankfully he had switched classes pretty early on, so there was no weird feeling of “I’m hanging out with my student.”
Most of the conversation took place in Korean, which was super fun. Two of the Korean guys are from Daegu, and they have a very strong “Southern accent”, which was a blast to listen to. I did my best to follow along with the conversation as much as my listening comprehension (and the super loud music) allowed, and every couple of minutes they’d stop, turn to me, and say “Did you understand?” (Usually my answer was “kind of”, and they’d give me a brief recap in English that helped fill in the gaps.)
Now I’ve hung out with pretty much everyone from that party multiple times, usually in some sort of studying context, and I’m really happy that I’m becoming “part of the group.” Even though I had set it as my main goal to make Korean friends this semester, I’m actually kind of surprised at how easy it was! Hopefully I’ll continue to have opportunities to hang out with them throughout the next two years. 🙂