Breaking Out of my Shell

Authored by:
Isabel T.

Isabel T.

I wouldn't say that I am a particularly extroverted person. I tend to stay with the people I know and with who I am comfortable. It's often hard for me to reach out to new people or find opportunities to make new friends, but coming to Korea I have found that that was holding me back from experiencing everything I could. 

One of my main motivations for this trip was to improve my Korean speaking abilities (a language that I had been studying for my time at university but never really had the opportunity to utilize fully), and in order to really improve in the way I wanted is to really interact with locals and other people who are fluent in Korean. As someone who finds it hard to interact and speak with new people at first, I found myself defaulting back to speaking English in situations where I felt nervous, however, I realize this is not going to help me improve. So I started small: Interacting with more convenience store employees, speaking more confidently to the staff at restaurants, using Korean whenever I could in casual ways. This helped me gain more confidence in my abilities and even more, I have found that even that small effort that I have been making has been met with kindness. In my experience, even when messing up often times Korean speakers still appreciate the fact that someone who is a foreigner is attempting to learn Korean and interact with them in that way. Knowing that now has made it easier for me to interact with more people that were far outside my comfort zone before and even make some pretty good friends with local students! Realizing that there is nothing to be afraid of has helped me not only become more confident in myself but I also have noticed that my Korean skills have been improving greatly!!

Even for those just within the program, maybe not learning Korean, reaching out to other students in the program has also been amazing. Going out and meeting people from other states and other countries has really helped me find a more global perspective on a lot of topics. 

I know that for people who tend to be more introverted and have a hard time reaching out, finding new friends in a different country can be difficult, but I encourage you to try and break out of your shell even if it's scary at first. I promise that the nervousness of reaching out to others will go away after the first (or maybe the first few) attempts and you'll find that you have nothing to be nervous about.  People are always willing to reciprocate if they see you are making an effort. Even if there is a bit of a language barrier kindness and willingness to learn always help span the gap.

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