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How I made new friends at Hongdae's hottest hangout: PLAYGROUND.

Hello everyone!

My name is Charlotte Silver and I am from Chicago, USA. I came to Korea 6 months ago and have been a volunteer staff member at Playground Café and Bar in Hongdae for 4 months. Currently, I am studying Korean at Yonsei University’s Korean Language School, and I plan on (hopefully) being in Korea for a long time.

I came by myself to Korea, and while I had been here before a few years ago, I didn't know anyone when I got here. Having lived abroad recently, when I came to Korea I knew how important it was to make friends right away in order to feel comfortable and at home.

Using the Meetup App, I found Playground my first week in Korea and went on a Friday night. Through the organization Friends in Korea, Playground - while a café and bar, is also a place for organized language exchange events and parties. It advertized a Friday International Party – and as a person who was interested in meeting both Korean people and people from all over the world, I decided it would be a great place to go. Immediately when I arrived at Playground I felt comfortable, and I had so much fun that I kept coming back.  2 months later I became a staff member.

I cannot fully stress the importance as an expat in finding a place where you feel comfortable and where you belong during your time abroad. Playground has become that for me because of its friendly atmosphere, kind staff members, and the amazing people that you get to meet everyday just by walking in the door. I am so glad I found Playground my first week in Korea, and I hope many other people can experience how great it is as well.

Playground is open every day of the week, and weekdays and weekends at Playground have a different vibe. As both a Tuesday and weekend volunteer staff member, I can experience both! During the week Playground hosts language exchange events where anywhere from 15 to over 40 people can show up. On a typical Tuesday, you can enjoy freeform conversation between groups of 4-6 and a casual cup of coffee or alcoholic beverage. Included in the participation fee are 2 free drinks, and after that you can enjoy anything off the extensive menu. I’ve tried almost everything by now and I really enjoy a good whiskey sour. Tables are rotated throughout the evening so people can talk to a variety of people from both Korea and basically everywhere else. It’s amazing to see how many people come and participate in order to practice both English and Korean. As my Korean is gradually improving (thank you Yonsei) I am becoming more and more brave to use Korean during the language exchange. It’s priceless to be able to be able to speak with a native speaker in such a casual way – it really develops language ability.

Weekends, as I said before, have a different atmosphere. A little more laid back, you can walk around and talk to people or dance to the DJ on the open-air rooftop – seriously it's so nice to drink and meet new people on a rooftop bar in the summer. Because Playground is located in Hongdae, a hip college town where thousands (or more) of people gather on the weekends, it gets a little more crowded on Friday and Saturday. Everyone is excited because it's the weekend, people drink a little more freely, and honestly it's a party! You can come alone or bring your friends because the people there are friendly and as a staff member it is part of my job to make sure that everyone is engaged in conversation and having a good time.

I cant tell which I like more, weekends or weekdays at Playground. They are both a little bit different, but what they have in common is that you can meet awesome people and have fun. I am so glad I decided to come to this event my first week in Korea. It has drastically changed my time here in so many positive ways. I have met so many friends and have had so many great conversations. It’s truly an awesome place and I hope you can come and see for yourselves!
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