5 Ways to Prevent Loneliness While Abroad

 

This sense of isolation always falls upon me when I am in Korea. Despite the thousands of people that surround me, I still feel alone at the beginning of my trip. I’ve made Korean friends at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) that I can meet again in Korea, but for some reason I feel like they’ll judge my Korean language skills. This scares me into not meeting anyone I know, and although I said in the video (below) to just try and meet new people, it’s more difficult than it appears.

But have no fear! Loneliness cannot drown you when you have yourself as a life preserver! I made it my goal to do something every day after my classes, which means five days of exploring Seoul by myself.

 

Day 1: Give yourself a present

Shopping isn’t really my thing, but I was in dire need of some clothes. I decided to start this five day dare by spending some money on myself. Clothes in Korea are said to be cheap, but in all honesty clothing prices in Korea can vary from store to store. Buying clothes from a store in a subway station is very different from going to a department store. I personally don’t like to spend too much money on clothing brands, so I’ll hunt the racks of cheaper places to find those few pieces that are to my taste.

It’s important to buy yourself something once in a while. It makes you realize that presents from yourself are nearly as good as presents from someone else. Plus, you know your own taste so hopefully you won’t have to return anything.

 

Day 2: Go somewhere old (or new)

I had been to Kyobo Book Centre (교보문고) during my brief visit to Korea summer 2012, but being that it’s 2015 I decided to visit it again. There were so many books and supplies! I would also like to mention how extensive the English language learning section is. If you’re a foreigner in Korea there’s also a sizeable foreign book section.

 

Day 3: Find a place to study

In intermediate and high school I dabbled a bit in manga, but I only read a little, translated of course. Now, however, I see the exponential utility of manhwa (만화, Korean comic books). Through comic books it’s easy to learn normal speech patterns and vocabulary and if you don’t know what the characters are saying, usually it’s easy to get the jist because of the pictures.

Strange thing about the manhwa cafe that I go to: I’ve only seen middle-aged men come in to read. It’s rather strange. I’m the only female ever in that place. I want to try and find other manhwa cafes to see if this is a recurring theme…

 

Day 4: Find a place to relax

Another cafe adventure! A week prior I had found a cat cafe in my vicinity, so on day four I decided to go and experience it. The cats were all sleeping when I came in, and for a while I was the only person in there for a while. The cats were friendly, and I definitely felt more relaxed there.

It’s a good idea to find somewhere where you can relieve your stress and just relax. That could be a park, at your house, on a friend’s couch. For me it’s with animals.

 

Day 5: Meet up with friends

This is perhaps the most important day. Meeting other people is important when in another country. Meeting people from that country helps you learn about that culture and make international friendships. Meeting people from your own country can help with culture shock and help the adjustment process.

On day five first I met with a Korean friend. It was good to meet her again and catch up, being that I hadn’t seen her in a year. That night I met with Keoni and one of his friends. I would say it was my best day out of those five days.


These, of course, are not the only things I’m going to do and these are not the only things anyone should only do while in another country! Feeling alone is difficult, but by pushing through and just making myself go do things I felt much better and I know I’ll thank myself in the future. 

What are some things you do to keep yourself busy while abroad?
~Raquel "Rocky"
 

 
 

Author

Raquel “Rocky” Reinagel is a MA candidate and graduate assistant in the Department of Second Language Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM); former president of Hanwoori Hawaiʻi; and co-president of the Second Language Studies Student Association (SLSSA) at UHM.