Monday at work my coworker, Sara, invited me to join her at a “meetup.” For those of you that don’t know Meetup.com is a social network where people can plan events with a variety of purposes. I’ve heard of it but this was my first experience with it. It was listed as a “language exchange” with 38 people attending at a coffee/tea shop in Hongdae.
We hopped on the subway after grabbing some tempura and got to Hongdae by around 7:00. We easily found Chloris Tea & Coffee and went upstairs to see a crowded room. We ordered tea and grabbed some of the last vacant seats next to a solitary Korean girl.
“Hi, are you here for the meetup?” I asked.
“Ne” she nodded. (Ne means yes!)
“Can we join you?”
She nodded again. Her English clearly wasn’t very strong but we kept trying anyway. Between our limited Korean and her basic English we were able to introduce each other and have a small conversation. Her name was Teri and she had a friend on the way who was much better at English. We all laughed at the language barrier and kept chatting away.
Before long her friend showed up and the conversation flowed even better. He let us know that we would have introductions soon and that there was in fact a second floor that was just as crowded with people for the meetup. Every week the newcomers are invited to the microphone to say a few words.
Sure enough a few moments later a white guy named Steven plugged in a microphone and introduced himself. He happened to be from Millburn, New Jersey and went to my rival high school! He gave a few basic details about himself and highlighted his language abilities before telling us about LangaugeCast. We had over 200 people here today and meet every Monday in Hongdae and on different days around South Korea and the globe.
Sara and I introduced ourselves mentioning that we were teachers and her Spanish ability and my Russian. Shortly after sitting back down I was joined by a girl who was hoping to have a Russian conversation. Ariana was born in Kazakhstan but has lived in California since she was little. I was impressed that she understood my Russian and even said it was good! She said she could understand most of it but had trouble speaking. I’ll be sure to talk to her again next week.
Sara met a few Spanish speakers as I moved on to a group practicing Chinese and Korean. I helped them with their English and learned a little more Korean while making new friends. LanguageCast does a great job bringing people together to make new friends and share languages. I can’t wait to go back next week and think this will be a wonderful supplement to my Korean class on Tuesdays & Thursdays.