Just to make our group of expats here that little bit more unforgettable, we’ve recently welcomed two lovably mad Italian guys into our ranks.
We’re a very multicultural group, here in one of the world’s most ethnically homogeneous nations. Others drift in and out, but at the moment the regularly present are:
- 1 Irishman and 3 Irish girls
- 1 Englishman
- 3 Americans
- 3 South Africans
- 2 Koreans
- 1 Thai girl
- 2 Italians
That a group of people with such different backgrounds, experiences, worldviews and personalities can be thrown together in a small Asian city and get along like old friends is incredible to me. You’ve got your teasing, your friendly insults, your bouts of hysterical laughter. Most of the banter amongst us tends to be friendly international rivalry, which is unfortunate for the lone Englishman, who endures a lot of abuse from all directions and then claims to “actually” be Scottish when he runs out of clever comebacks.
Do you think we’re a bit of a racist group? asked American Friend One last night as English Friend finished a defence of his country that ended with something like “and you lot deserved everything you got, anyway”. We concluded that we probably are, but that it’s OK to be racist when you’re friends with the people you’re offending. And it’s not so much racism as amusement at stereotypes consistently proving to be true!
Seriously, it’s a lovely bunch of friends to have found, and I love having so many nice people to hang out with. Last night, we got together at American Friend Two’s apartment, where the Italian guys cooked dinner for 10 of us. Authentic Italian food, and lots of European wines, not to mention the cooks having impassioned conversations in Italian… it was like being back in Europe for an evening. We played Guitar Hero (at which I continue to be rubbish – I watched open-mouthed as American Friends Two and Three confidently played it on Expert level, after English Friend and I had been booed off the stage despite having it on Easy) and a hilarious game called Last Word (which descended into chaos as the various nationalities fought over the legitimacy of words they’d never heard of, which are allegedly common in other countries).
The Italian guys brought a lovely taste of mayhem (as well as of Italy) to the evening, with one of my favourite moments so far in Korea being the one where I watched a stereotypically flamboyant and passionate Italian training an American in the art of beating eggs. This is not Sparta! he cried emotionally, in his beautiful accent. This is PASTA!