My first semester in Seoul there are many things I missed out on because I was scared to go out into Seoul on my own. Most of the friends I had made last semester were either studying abroad with their 1 to 4 closest friends or studying abroad with their romantic partner. Because of this I had plans occasionally but was usually alone all weekend. I regret not going out on my own to do and see some of the limited time attractions I missed like the giant inflatable duck in front of Lotte World Tower. I will admit it is harder to go out alone in Seoul because you almost never see anyone do anything alone in this city. There is a really prominent couple culture, and so if someone is not in a couple, they usually go out with 1 to 4 of their friends to anything and everything. To make matters worse, a lot of restaurants in Seoul require a minimum of two people/two servings in order to eat there. It can make going out alone very intimidating and lonely.
But, in my last semester I decided to not let it hold me back. It is important to leave your comfort zone. I saw a chart once that said the learning zone is outside of the comfort zone, so you need to leave your comfort zone to learn more effectively. I am trying to use this to convince myself to go out alone. Some of the things I have been attending by myself are events like pop-up stores, pop-up cafes, museums/historical sites, and kpop events. Kpop events are particularly difficult to attend alone because I never see anyone attend these events alone. I already stand out as an obvious foreigner in Seoul, but then to be alone makes people look at me more which in turn makes me even more uncomfortable. But this week I decided to challenge myself by going to the pop-up café and store for a kpop group I like. The event was to celebrate their 8th anniversary.
I was alone for the first hour and a half of being at the event. But when I was going from one floor to another, I was stopped to fill out a survey for foreigners along with two other women. I heard them speaking English so when we got into an elevator together, I asked them where they are from. Who knew this would turn into the three of us spending the rest of the day together and the next day together too. They told me about other events happening around the city for the same group and we went to them together, we also took photobooth photos together, ate together, went to an arcade and won stuffed animals together, and got to know each other. We have plans to try and see each other again in July at a concert and keep in touch sporadically through Instagram. This had to be the best possible outcome from going out alone that I could have imagined. I hope it pushes me to go out alone more often, even if I don’t make friends next time.