New Friends

Second week into the language immersion programme, I’ve made some fast friends and then some. Some of my 13 classmates are simply too young for me to reach out to. And fact is, they probably don’t want to have anything to do with an old fogey like me. I pride on having youthful thoughts but somehow we just don’t… click.

So, I found a new friend and we have been spending a lot of time together with E, even during our free time. She is almost a decade younger than I am, but because she is a teacher, I find her thinking extremely mature for her age. She is a Chinese from Shanghai with relatively progressive thoughts, and that truly took me by surprise. Well, I have had some Chinese course mates in the university but our conversation back then hardly went beyond academic discussions. I cherish the time we spent together because we could have mature conversations about our countries respectively. We both addressed the usual prejudices and misconceptions that most people have about our countries. Truly eye-opening talking to her.

Made another friend, although progress on this side is nothing to shout about. I signed up for a language exchange programme on top of the immersion programme where they would match us with a Korean undergraduate who wishes to practice their English/Chinese etc. I hesitated signing up for the programme because being years older, I thought the student might feel burdensome interacting with me. H persuaded me to go ahead considering it would be useful to have a contact in Seoul given my ermm… leisurely pursuits.

My language exchange partner is a very pleasant-looking 21 year-old boy who has served the military and is currently in 2nd year. He speaks both English and Mandarin Chinese so I could understand why we were matched together (because we’ve noticed that most other people were matched with Korean students of the same gender). The problem is, C is very shy. And awkward around me. But according to the programme, we are required to meet up for at least 2 hours a week. So I suggested to E that we do a double-date thingy with our language exchange partners (we both got guys who speak 2 languages!). That happened on Monday evening and it’s fortunate that I suggested that because C was feeling so awkward. At least he could speak with E’s language partner once in a while. We might have eaten our dinner in complete silence if it were just the two of us.

Hopefully things will improve in the next few weeks to come. This programme is definitely doing me good; it has broadened my horizon rather substantially.


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