Moving to a new city is hard. It’s easy to pretend you’re brave and adventurous, but while you’re telling people how excited you are, it’s likely that your actual thoughts about the whole ordeal are an anxious mess. Leaving your life behind, the move itself, and the settling in period are stressful and emotionally draining. For many introverts, there’s an additional worry: how am I going to make good friends?
This problem isn’t exclusive to introverts. But in order to make meaningful friendships, you usually have to give yourself lots of opportunities to interact with people. Extroverts are generally able to create more of these opportunities.
The options for settling into a new city may seem pretty grim for an introvert: either give up your downtime to small talk with strangers, or be a happy recluse. Honestly, the second option is always the most tempting, but it turns out that having friends is awesome. So how do you get from Point A (reluctant acceptance that hermitdom is not the answer) to Point B (having consistent and meaningful social connections)? My suggestion is to fake extroversion. Just for a little while, I promise. Here are some tips for becoming a short-term, extroverted introvert:
It’s a new year: a time for new beginnings, and new seasons of my favourite TV shows! I have some life goals in progress right now, so rather than set resolutions for the future, I thought I’d look to the past for inspiration.
Six years ago, I’d recently come home from my first long trip. I had spent 13 months working and travelling in Australia and then visiting Southeast Asia. I was having trouble adjusting to being home, and I desperately wanted to write about travel so that I could continue to feel immersed in it. The letter that I came up with is the closest I’ve ever come to time travel; I ended up writing a letter to myself in the future! Some of it makes me cringe, but I’m going to include it anyway, in the interest of vulnerability (with minor edits for comprehension):
‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through Korea People were freezing, due to winds from Siberia; The passports were placed by the front door with care, In hopes that Leslie Teacher soon would not be there; The children were sniffling and picking their noses, I even had one kid throw up on his clothe-es!
First, let me say that this post is loaded with privilege. Not everyone has a good relationship with family, or positive holiday experiences, and on top of that has the ability to be overseas missing them. I’m very grateful for my family and for the opportunities I’ve had to travel long-term. Also, it’s a very Christmas-oriented post, but feel free to replace the C-word with your holiday or non-denominational celebration of choice!
Whether you’re working on the other side of the world without the means to go home for a visit, or choosing to take advantage of days off to travel, it can be tough to be away from home for the holidays. Here are some ways to ease the ho-ho-homesickness:
One of the best ways to relax in Korea is to strip down and spend a day at the jjimjilbang, or public bathhouse/spa. If you’ve never been before, it can be a little overwhelming to figure it out. Namely: when should you be naked and when should you not be? (Coincidentally also one of life’s greatest questions.) Here are some guidelines for your first time.
I’m a major introvert. I like meeting new people and hanging out with friends, but need a good dose of alone time afterwards to curl up in the fetal position re-energize. When travelling solo, I will almost always choose to spend time touring around on my own, rather than with a “new friend” (i.e. person I just met who I have to make small talk with).
When I visited Japan, I was feeling particularly introverted. I hadn’t travelled across the Pacific to get there; I’d come over on an hour-long flight from Seoul, where I was living at the time. I really just wanted to see all the cool things during the day, and read or Skype my then-girlfriend in the evenings. I was a little worried about whether I would be missing out, but it turns out Japan is a great destination for solo-travelling introverts!
Whenever someone asks me how I enjoyed living in South Korea, I will inevitably start talking about the food.
e.g.: “Oh you lived in Korea?! Did you get homesick? What was it like??”
” Nah, Skype’s pretty great and the food was amazing!”
No matter what the question is, food is always the answer. Why?
Ok, enough preamble. Here’s Part One of the Korean food series: Korean Meats.
One morning in rural South Australia, I arrived at a vineyard for my grape-picking job, shortly after the sun had risen. The mist was still suspended above the vines, and the air was cool. As I approached, I squealed as I noticed three kangaroos nearby, hopping away through the rows of grapes.
Sound romantic? I thought so too, at first! Not only is following the Australian harvest trail and picking produce a great way to save money fairly quickly, it allows you to extend your stay for another year, if you’re on a Working Holiday Visa.
However, it’s not all kangaroos in vineyards. (That only happened once!) Harvest work is tough; you have to be prepared to work for long periods of time without a day off, to work quickly if you want to earn a decent wage, and to accept that you will probably come face to face with some not-so-cute Australian wildlife.
This has been a great month! I moved across the country to beautiful Victoria, British Columbia to start a master’s program, celebrated my 29th birthday, and I finally started this blog (something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time). If you missed them, check out my posts on a hutong courtyard B&B in Beijing, the minivan