Lost In Korea: On Making and Leaving Friends

Solo Travel, south korea, Working Abroad — By on February 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

by Kissairis Munoz

One of the major draws to traveling for any length of time is meeting new people. Encounters with locals who help you find that obscure site you’ve spent an hour searching for, meeting kindred spirits at a hostel, striking up conversation with that person sitting next to you on the train — these human interactions enrich any trip. I’ve always believed

Thanks to my Canadian friends, I am now a proud flannel owner.

that these unplanned encounters are what have made all my previous trips meaningful.

From the Egyptian father who cooked a chicken and offered me tea at 2 a.m. one night I got lost to the traveling salesman on an Argentine bus who bought me a hot chocolate and walked me to my hostel so I wouldn’t be mugged before sunrise, befriending strangers has provided me with memories that go beyond what a guidebook suggestions.

There’s a flip side to meeting so many great people, though. It’s something that’s been magnified for me by living here in Korea. Eventually, everyone leaves. When you’re living in one city for a year and traveling a bit during vacations, you’re bound to meet people you connect with, especially because in a place for a more extended period of time than a typical vacation. But with the temporary nature of teaching English and traveling abroad in general, it’s rough knowing that all your friendships have an expiration date on them.

At my school, for instance, people’s year-long contracts end throughout the year. There are people constantly leaving and new people coming to replace them. You become friends with the new people until it’s your own time to head out. But whether you’re coming or going, it gets emotionally draining having to constantly say goodbye. And that’s just for friendships! I don’t know if I’d be able to handle a romantic relationship while teaching and living abroad.

Besties weekend beach getaway

On the plus side, being in this type of unique living and working situation allows you to form strong friendships with people who I never would have crossed paths with if I weren’t here in Korea. Two of my best friends here are from Canada, girls I probably never would have met otherwise. Although they are leaving here in two weeks (I’m going to be a wreck at that farewell party), thanks to technology, we can stay in touch. While it’s not exactly the same as living in a foreign country together and you might go longer between visits, it is possible to keep in touch and plan your next adventure together. Because even though it gets hard to say goodbye, what would traveling be like without all the amazing people you meet along the way?

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.