I always felt that making friends in a semester was hard. You never know how relationships are going to evolve and how you are going to grow and change. Within the first two weeks of my semester in Seoul I had planned a trip to Busan with some people from my program. This trip was to take place during midterms. Little did I know that a lot can change in the two months between the beginning of a semester and midterms.
By the time the trip rolled around I didn’t really talk to these people. We had grown to develop different paths in our study abroad experiences. But I still had an airbnb and a train ticket too and from Busan and I wasn’t about too just let that $70 I spent for this weekend trip go to waste.
When I arrived in Busan I had literally nothing planned. So I Googled “things to do in Busan”. I visited the Gamcheon Culture Village where I ate some of the best ice cream I have ever had. I visited Busan Tower which had a lovely view of the city. I went to some night markets where I ate some awesome street food. But I personally don’t like to just do touristy things when I am in a new place. I like to experience the music scene.
I found this bar on Instagram called “Ovantgarde” and they were having a multi-artist set. I went to the bar, which was located deeper in a back alley than I cared to walk. When I got there the show was just a bunch of guys singing on a low stage with questionable quality. Despite the lack of notable talent among performers the audience went crazy. I heard some of the worst singing but the loudest cheering at this place.
After listening to three singers I left. It was only 10 p.m. so I still wanted to see what I could see in the city. As I walked back to a main road I saw a guy carrying bongos and a bass case walk down a mysterious staircase. I saw outside of the stairs a low to the ground sign that read “Ol 55’s Ol Family Jam tonight at 9:30”. I followed the man through the door and was greeted with a shocking sight.
A bar filled with white people speaking English. Upon entering the owner Mike came up to me and was like “do you play an instrument? "I told him I played guitar and he said “we will get you on the stage”. There was a guy sitting at the bar named Jim who was from my home state of New Jersey. He really wanted to talk about New Jersey politics and I was happy to entertain it.
Eventually Mike told me to go to the state. There was no set or anything in place and we had all just met. Mike just told everyone to play creep because apparently people in Busan really like "Creep" by Radiohead. We jammed on that song and a few other classic rock songs for a bit. Afterwards I ended up hanging out with the bass player and his girlfriend for a little bit. The bass player was in the U.S. army stationed in Daegu and his girlfriend was a factory worker in Daegu.
This trip was my favorite of the semester. I got to meet so many people I would have never expected to meet in addition to just doing normal touristy things in Busan.
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My name is Harry Pogorzelski-Ponichtera and I am currently a music composition major at Ithaca College. I have been playing guitar since I was 7 years old. In my spare time I enjoy making music and gaming with friends!