Before moving to Korea, I was sure that I would meet new people and make friends in no time. I’m introverted by nature but figured I would have plenty of opportunities to put myself out there. While I did make friends, it was not in the manner that I expected.
I work with Americans and Canadians in my office. We are in an English speaking environment, and I quickly became comfortable with using English day in and day out. I realized, though, that just having my coworkers as friends was not helping me increase my knowledge of Korean or Korean culture. I then set out with the intention of making Korean friends so I could have chances to practice the language. While it wasn’t easy, these are the methods I found useful to making native friends in a foreign country:
- Dating apps
I have recently started using Tinder as a way to make friends. Yes, Tinder is a dating app. However, many people in foreign countries use it to reach out to English-speaking expats. Most of the people on there aren’t interested in dating, but rather showing you around their country and teaching you their language (they may also want you to teach them some English, but I think it’s a fair trade).
- Language exchanging websites like Interpals.net
This is actually a language exchange website, so you will find people willing to do language exchange sessions with you. Most people like to meet in cafes and have hour-long sessions in which you switch languages after 30 minutes. There are, of course, some people looking for dating, but do with them what you please.
- Attending concerts
If you’re interested in the country’s music, try attending a few concerts of your favorite band. You’ll probably need some help your first time, and asking people around you can lead to long-lasting friendships. This is my third time staying in Korea, and each time I make new friends by just going to music related events.
- Random conversation
While this takes some courage
that I don’t have, you can always go up to people in a coffee shop and ask if you can sit with them, or if you see someone studying English you can ask if they need help. I have never done this, but my coworkers have had some luck with this method.
Everyone is different and these methods may not work across the board. But if I can do it, an extremely quiet person who mumbles all the time and has trouble even making American friends, so can you.