Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Making Friends

So, let me tell you about the friends I've made here. The Korean ones.

Actually, let me tell you about the people I met on a whim, the ones whose relationship status I'm quite unsure about.

Let's start with the guy I met at school. His parents were installing blinds in all the classrooms. On this day, he was home from school and helping them with their work. My mentor teacher wasn't in the classroom, so when his father entered and started working, I wasn't sure if I needed to leave. My desk is, after all, next to the window. Then this boy (really, he's about my age) walks in and says, "What's up?" It was funny and surprising at the same time. Yet another reason why you shouldn't judge a person on looks. I totally wasn't expecting to hear such a phrase come from a Korean person. This guy spoke perfect English, and I found out that, yeah, I was in the way. I settled with our initial small talk conversation, but later on as his parents moved on to the classrooms upstairs, I suddently got crazy courage. I went and asked him if he was from Jecheon. Honestly, I just wanted to know someone who could tell me more about the town.  This guy was kind enough to give me his number (I didn't have a phone at the time ahahahah), and he and a friend of his invited me and my friend to eat pizza and walk around downtown. He told my friend and I that he went to school in Daejeon, so he'd be leaving town on the weekend. So, I've only met this guy on two occasions. I messaged him my number once I finally got my phone, and he replied. We're friends on Facebook. That's about it. I figure the university friends that I make will be preoccupied with school unless on break.

Hmm, there's the guy on the train. This grad student ahjussi who spoke English very well and decided to strike up a conversaton with me. He was very much into religion (going to a theological school), and learned several languages. Now, it's a bit scary meeting older people. In an attempt not to be completely rude, but also to calm my nerves, I keep up such casual conversations with these total strangers. Though, I secretly wish that I have a friend with me to help judge the character of every older stranger I meet. This guy was pretty interesting and kind (he bought me a soda from the snack car), and talked mostly about himself. Ok, sounds good, but then we started talking about church and church songs, and I somehow ended up being "forced" to write down the lyrics to a song and sing it with him. It was a bit embarrassing. What's more is he ended up with my number, and I with his. We had to part ways at the train's destination, but he wondered if I'd be catching the same train back as him. I (honestly, not purposely) missed that train and had to take the next. I apologized to him and said maybe one day I would visit his church. At this point, I really wished for a friend to help me deal with this stranger. When the work week started, I talked to my mentor teacher about him. She said it was ok not to talk to him. Another friend, once I told her the story, suggested I not talk to him at all. So, my readers, I completely ignored the next several text messages I received from this man. Honestly, I don't want to meet him again unless I'm with someone else, but I feel weird not being able to make a sound judgement about such matters on my own. He's probably harmless, but easily just the opposite? Who knows?

Last night was writing night, so I walked to the other side of town a bit early and sat in a nearby park, studying Korean. Two high school kids (whose names I cannot remember lol) gained some unforeseen courage to speak to me. Perhaps because they had each other as backup, they started slow. "Hello."  Then, "What are you doing? Do you speak Korean?"  I thought this was great, to be honest. High school kids RARELY talk to me, so I welcomed this opportunity. We ended up having a jolly conversation about learning English, playing Diablo in PC bangs, music, and Korean food. Pretty soon, It was time for me to go, so I apologized to them (they were getting so confident in speaking broken English by this point) and told them I had to go. "Ok, see you later," the boy said. Then, he whispered to his friend (a girl) something in Korean. It sounded like, ...but when will we ever see her? True enough, because I live clear on the other side of town. Does this sound stupid? I gave them my phone number. I wonder if it was a good idea. Today, I woke up and thought, will they text me in English or Korean? Will they feel brave enough to try English? ...Yeah, and will I ever run into them again?

Oh, finally, I should mention the owners of the coffee shop I frequent. Now, I know these owners are not responsible or obligated to become my friend or get to know me. I alone have made an effort to be a frequent customer, ridiculously ordering the same thing every time I go (hot chocolate, minus a few exceptions). One or two times, I got up the courage to ask one of them to help me read Korean, or about what their other customers preferred to order. You know, I may be a little bit frustrated now. They've never made much effort to ask me about where I'm from or what I'm doing here. I get these kinds of questions from many other shopkeepers once they find out I know one or two Korean words. Maybe it's a good things? It makes me think of the bartender in a Western saloon, who sees and knows everything but says nothing.

I'll write about the people I know well another time.
'Til next time,

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