This Friday I did something I haven’t done in a loooong time. I went to an international language exchange meet-and-greet party in Hongdae. Alone! With my husband out with some friends, and my Korean best friend abroad on vacation, I was without my usual companions for a Friday night on the town. Since it had been a tough week, I had actually planned to just stay at home, plant my lazy butt on the couch and watch som Korean tv series. But when the evening rolled around I suddenly decided to go out on my own. Heck, I’m currently living in one of this planet’s largest metropolitan areas. And after all, I really should celebrate having survived the first week of teaching!
So, I got off said lazy butt and headed to Hongdae, where I’d learned through facebook that there was a party at Playground Rooftop Cafe. I paid a 10,000 won entry fee (which also included a coupon for one drink) and just started mingling. Everybody seemed a bit insecure, so it was easy to go up to people and just talk. Within five minutes I found myself in the company of three Korean guys who were all delighted to meet a foreigner who spoke Korean. The music was loud and we were drinking, but I was able to engage in a fairly intelligent conversation for almost an hour without using one word of English. I’m obviously learning new words everyday, but more importantly, I find that being surrounded by Korean whereever I go has made it easier for me to “fill in the blanks” if there’s something I don’t hear or don’t understand clearly. Score!
When I went for my second drink I found many more delightful people on the rooftop. Everybody was so friendly and eager to talk in either English or Korean, or both. On a cultural note, I don’t recall another occasion where so many people have asked about my age, but I realize that it’s super important for Koreans. They need to know people’s age to know how to address one another. Most of that evening I was Sohee-noona. Not bad at all. Though I was among younger people most of the evening, I also met several people who were my age or older. After a couple of hours at the cafe I had also met a really cool girl who used to live in Vancouver. While we were talking, a guy I had talked to earlier came up and asked if we wanted to go to a noraebang (Korean karaoke place) with him. We both thought that it sounded like a brilliant idea (Note: after a few beers, visiting a noraebang is ALWAYS a good idea), so we left the party and headed to a place further down the street. We paid for one hour, and then took turns singing our lungs out in Korean. In all modesty I’m happy to report that I landed a decent score, acing IU’s “Friday” and Urban Zakapa’s “I don’t love you”. Yay!
What could have been another boring Friday night in my own company turned out to be an awesome fun-filled night with amazing people. I’m definitely going back again sometime!