Moving to South Korea will no doubt be an adventure. It will of course also be a huge challenge moving to a completely foreign country. There will be a lot of practical things to prepare before your move, for example where you’re going to live, where you’ll be working / studying, and making sure you have all the relevant paperwork in place – you can find a wealth of practical advice on these subjects on this site. However, there is more to knowing how to use your bank account is or knowing the correct procedure for sending parcels to USA. Once you’ve figured all the practical things out, you are now faced with your next big challenge – meeting people. Feeling isolated abroad is an unpleasant but common experience; the people you meet will make your journey and adventure complete. You will probably meet many fantastic people through your work or college placement, but this article aims to provide a lifeline for those who are new to the country and who wish to meet people through other means – both locals and other expats.
Join a social club
South Korea has a wide range of women’s – and men’s – clubs on offer. Women’s clubs act as a safe haven for women to meet with other women of the same nationality. The clubs offer advice, information and networking opportunities and are a great place to start in the quest to build your social circle. The following link provides a list of social clubs in South Korea, including women’s clubs for American and Canadian women, as well as international clubs for women in both Seoul and Busan.
Take up a hobby
South Korean people are generally very welcoming of foreign dwellers and are, as such, easy to approach and get to know. Like with any country, the best way to meet like-minded people is to join an activity club. Language exchange programs, volunteering opportunities, local crafts and martial arts clubs are common in many of South Korea’s cities, and you will find participants to be a mix of both locals and expats. Seoul and Busan offer a wide range of activities such as hiking, sailing and martial arts.
Many foreign people want to make friends with locals to enhance their experience and learn about the culture they are living among. There are many expats in South Korea and, as such, you may find that many of the clubs you join mainly consist of other foreigners. Internet forums offer another medium to meet people in a more specific manner; sites such internations offers a platform for people in South Korea to exchange views, requests and contact details. There are also many local people that are interested in meeting foreign friends, so will also use forums like this as a medium of achieving this.
Learn the local culture
Most people who choose to live and work in South Korea from other countries will have a natural interest in the local culture. However, you will meet many more people if you are proactive and inquisitive in learning. Don’t just stay in your local area; venture out, take a bus to another town or city and try to talk to people. South Korean people are usually keen to learn English, but are often reserved in nature so might not necessarily approach you. Be the first to make a move, and you will see how warm and interested people here generally are. Plus, exploring the country’s cultural history will give you a good talking point when befriending local people. International Rail offers a Korean Rail Pass (KR Pass) at a discounted price: http://www.internationalrail.com/korea/korea-rail-pass.aspx. This allows unlimited access to all services run by Korail for a set period of time.
Excursions and trips
Booking yourself in for some guided trips and tours is a great way to meet people – both local and foreign. Trips will often be conducted in groups, so will give you a great opportunity to speak to people with similar ideas. You will also have access to a local guide, who you should see as a key to a wealth of local information, knowledge and inside tips that you wouldn’t otherwise find. The following site is a brilliant resource for checking out and booking some of the must-do excursions; www.private-guides.com is a unique database of private tours and guides, which offers the authentic opportunity to see the country’s finest attractions from the people that know them best.