In reviewing my blog’s most published topics I have realized that I write more about love, travel, and family and have not written too much about my friends, friendships, and ties. Having as many close friends as fingers on my hands I thought that I should dedicate a few posts this year to the friends who I have known throughout my childhood and adulthood. To start I would like to talk about a close friend of mine that I was fortunate enough to visit last December while I was in Korea on holiday. This friend of mine also a friend of a friend became one of my dearest friends in recent years due to her unending support while I lived abroad.
As many expats may know meeting and making native friends in a foreign country can be difficult at first. However, if lucky you may make friendships that will last a lifetime. I was fortunate enough to meet some Korean natives during my time as an international student attending Korea University back in 2013. I remember during the first month of school receiving the opportunity to assist a Korean classmate who was asking me questions about our business class. In casual discussion we both were better acquainted and soon became close friends. While I consider this friend of mine one of my dearest friends throughout grad school and my time in Korea I would like to talk about another friend I met through this friend who I view as my most ‘giving friend.’ This friend of mine would be say differently, but she is always concerned about the well-being of others & is always open to lending help whenever someone is in need.
This friend nicknamed HS met me through my other friend as mentioned. Both Korea University students, attending different campus schools, we may have crossed paths on campus without ever meeting. However, by chance all of that changed one cold January morning in 2014 when I was asked my fellow Korean classmate if I would be open to a private language-exchange. Wanting to really improve my Korean language skills at the time I gladly said yes. On that cold January morning I waited by a bus stop nearby school. Having learned that this new language-exchange partner also lived in the Anam-dong area we both agreed to meet up by our school’s front gate bus stop. Upon meeting HS for the first time I was already surprised by how fluidly she spoke English. Once we had finished greetings HS was quite interested in learning more about me, so much so that she kindly invited me back to her apartment instead of following original plans to chat at a nearby cafe. Since our first meeting me and HS became good friends from then on. Originally, meeting for 2 hours (1 hour for English-speaking; 1 hour for Korean-speaking) me and HS would meet and casually talk about our lives, our classes, what we liked, our dreams, some favorite Korean or English tv shows, and family. Some meetings we would meet at HS’s place and some meetings we would meet up for coffee & drinks. Each and every time we had met I would always be surprised at HS’s forward offer to pay or treat me to something.
After almost a year of meeting both me and HS ended our language-exchange meet-ups. One main reason was due to time. By late 2014 I was too busy with work outside of Seoul to meet and HS was busy with school as well as work; and also preparing to start a family. During those busy months I remember HS treating me once again to a meal. We talked for hours and I wished her well in family planning. At the end of our meal knowing that we might not meet anytime soon HS prepared a gift for me. With much debate over whether or not to accept it I was still quite surprised after all this time of knowing HS to receive so much from her.
Never changing in looks as well as demeanor me and HS continued to update each other on our lives and share stories of our endeavors. I recall receiving news of her pregnancy and asking her about what American items she’d like to receive. I recall congratulating her on her daughter’s birth and new role as a mother. I recall sharing photos of my life back in the U.S. and even some cute baby photos of my nephew. I finally recall setting up a time to meet my ‘giving friend’ and for the first time preparing a gift worth giving for HS & her family.
Though our meeting last winter was brief our relationship & closeness still remains ever strong. I was so happy to see my friend once again and congratulate her in-person. HS I am sure felt the same and just like the old days she openly welcomed me to visit her again to spend hours chatting like we used to.
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