As I have just moved to Korea and honestly do not know a Seoul (haha geddit?!)…I am doing anything and everything to make some new friends and connections. People to have adventures with. To go drinking with. To watch movies with. People to laugh at and people to laugh with!!
My first resource, as always, is CouchSurfing.org. It has been my lifeline for many years now. An absolute godsend. Every new country I arrive in, I make a point of posting on the nearest city group (in this case Seoul) to tell people I have arrived and am looking to make new friends and ‘get involved’. The more active a couchsurfing community is, the easier I find it to make friends. You just need to participate in as many activities, meetings, parties, dinners, drinks, hikes, picnics, free hugs or language exchanges as physically possible and next thing you know you will have a great core group of buddies to hang with.
After getting a few responses, but nothing too positive, on the Seoul group last weekend, I felt a little disheartened. The community didn’t seem all that active and few people were getting helpful replies. ‘Fear Not’, the little voice inside my head told me. There are plenty more ways to make contacts in this country of 40 Million people!! So if you are in the same situation as me, be it in Korea or elsewhere, LISTEN UP!
Meet-Up.Com is another fantastic resource. Unlike Couchsurfing, it is not about free accomodation and staying on awesome peoples couches. It is more about meeting up with like minded people on a regular basis who have similar interests to you. I have joined the Seoul hiking group (Ya, I hear ya laughing…Janet, Hiking up a mountain? Yea right!), the Seoul photography group, The Korea travel and explorers group and the Seoul socialites group (drinks, anyone?!). The groups seem super active with all of them organizing meet ups within the next week. All I need to do now is build up the courage to attend one and hope for the best.
OkCupid.com is another site I am using. Even though you might have a peek around and realise within seconds that yes, it is in fact an online dating site (shock shock horror), once joining you will realise it is actually also very useful for making new friends. It’s totally free to use, unlike most other dating sites, and most people I have befriended so far seem like totally genuine people. On Saturday I met up with a guy I had been emailing from San Francisco, who is also an English teacher here, and we explored Seoul together, which you can read about here.
Last is a site which I am totally new to but intrigued by. Anyone ever heard of AirBnB.com? I hadn’t until a few days ago when I received an email from someone who works there, telling me he had been reading my blog about Korea and would love if I could come to an AirBnB meet up in Seoul next week. AirBnB, according to the website, is a place where you can ‘rent nightly from real people’ i.e rent peoples spare rooms, flats, or apartments on a nightly basis for much cheaper than your average hotel or guesthouse. It’s almost like a step up for past couchsurfing hosts looking to make some cash. Plus its appears you can still make friends too; the site has various groups to cater for people with varying interests. So if you are a wine lover, pherhaps you would like to travel to Calafornia or South Africa and stay in the home of a fellow wine lover! You can read an article about it here. I’m looking forward to hearing more about this site in the future. It *could* be the next big thing.