The Best Things About Being A Quarantined Introvert Abroad
Finally getting permission to become a professional recluse.
I have lived most of this life being told that my introverted ways are wrong and don’t fit well with the “normal” parts of society — whatever that means. While other kids played outside, I was at home writing fan fiction. You’re not a real wallflower until you’ve been caught writing about Harry Potter and Moaning Myrtle moaning in the out-of-order lavatory when you should have been at your brother’s birthday party downstairs.
Moving abroad was the scariest thing I had ever done, but deep down, it fed that loner side of me. I could leave everything behind and become whoever I wanted to be.
When the quarantine happened — and it happened much sooner in South Korea — I realized that my introverted ways were going to help me survive. While others were lamenting the isolation, I was embracing it. These are some of the best things about being quarantined that I have enjoyed so far.
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Living in the delivery capital of the world
Moving to South Korea was the best thing that ever happened to my obesity. If you need anything, anything, it is available for delivery here. Your stomach’s desire, perfectly packaged, expertly delivered. Clothes, groceries, sexy toys, bathtubs, alcohol. Whatever you’re going to need to survive this introvert’s wet dream. Isolation libations here I come!
Social distancing is now encouraged
Just to clarify, I get to stay home in a state of Schrodinger-clothing, coworkers at a distance, communicating only by digital devices and shouting out the window at that Ajumma who never picks up her after her dog. The fridge and cupboards are fully stocked. Every coffee is Irish. And I’m being encouraged, nay, enforced to stay here? Salutes the flag.
There’s a better excuse for not visiting my family
My family lives in Canada. From Korea, that’s a +$1000 flight and 48 hours of time just to travel there and back again. There are a lot of great excuses for not visiting them already, but not infecting them with a potentially deadly plague helps too.
I can finally study the local language
I’ve lived in Korea for almost four years and have learned very little of the language. I spent more time traveling than stuck in class learning the grammar and syntax. I’d had enough of that in high school. However, with the help of online courses and unemployment, I finally have the time to put a little work in.
No more awkward meetups
I’m not a fan of meetups. When you teach English abroad, they come in a few different forms. Language exchanges, work dinners, birthdays, and goodbye parties. If you’re like me and those things generally repulse you, then now is your time to shine. Stay home and avoid people? Now you’re speaking my language.
Living with a cross-cultural partner
Being in a relationship is like finding a book that you know you’re going to be rereading for the rest of your life. Every time you read it, it just gets better. Spending so much time isolated with a person who grew up on the other side of the planet has been enriching. Watching movies, talking, and discovering new music with someone so different and simultaneously so similar is totally worth the quarantine.
All types of weather are now suitable
I love rainy days. I love to feel the cool air coming in from the open windows and listen to the repetitiveness of the raindrops. I also hate the sun, mostly because of my fine Scottish skin that burns as easily as newspaper on a campfire. These days it doesn’t matter if it’s rainy, sunny, cloudy, or a Tsunami; they’re all beautiful from the comfort of my isolated home.
Having a unique source of income
Teaching abroad comes with some perks. Your apartment is paid for by your school, and you need to keep making an income to qualify for your visa. So when the school is forced to shut down by the government but requires you to remain employed, you fall into a unique position. Having my rent paid for, not working, but still making 100% of my salary is probably the greatest vacation I’ve ever had.
Becoming apart of a real community
What was the first thing people did around you when they found out about COVID-19? If your answer is, hoard toilet paper, I’m sorry. The first thing they did in South Korea was come together as a people. The government set up websites to keep people informed. Testing became widespread and readily available. If anyone found out you were self-isolating in your apartment, helpful neighbors would drop off food and necessities to help you get through it. Strangers! I’ve never felt so accepted when living abroad. I was very happy and lucky to be here for this.
Being able to say, “I told you so.”
Living abroad when the quarantines started happening was a much different experience from being home. Presidents and Prime Ministers urged us to return home. Parents begged children to escape to the safety of the homeland. To all the conversations that ended with “how could it be safer over there than here?”, I want to say I told you so.
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Moving abroad was the best decision I ever made in my life. The isolation has only reinforced that. I am normally an antisocial recluse but watching all my extroverted friends and family fall to pieces simply because they can’t leave the house taught me something.
When it comes to a quarantine, introverts do it better.
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