PULP STORYTIME: Tinder Abroad (Chapter I)
By Mia Castagnone
What did you get up to last Summer? While you were overseas, did you ever check to see who might be on Tinder in your area? Aside from the obvious fun you could have had, did you ever consider the other possibilities that might have arisen from a simple swipe right?
Have a read of these real-life stories of people who ventured the app while abroad and the weird, wild and the wonderful things that took place because of it.
The French Sugar Baby: “He was not dead!”
Like many USYD students, I spent a chunk of the summer break travelling Europe with a close friend. For a few days, we were in the quaint area of Nice, which is where this story took place.
It was a cool, quiet Friday night, my friend was off bar-hopping, while I had set up some evening entertainment for myself. The guy I matched with agreed to meet in the port, which was halfway between where I was staying and also a public area. We met and got chatting, with the conversation naturally flowing despite the slight language barrier.
We went for a walk by the harbour when he pointed to a yacht, and said he hated it because it was too big and meant he couldn’t dock his yacht, which he had to keep at the next port up. I didn’t think much of his comment and we continued to walk until he pointed up to a hill and said his house was up there. I thought cool, okay, a boat, a house with a view - all fairly normal things.
Then he casually remarked that Tina Turner, Elton John and Madonna had houses up there too and then I think, is this where Elton hangs out with the Beckhams every Summer in the south of France?
We get to another port and he points to a yacht and says, “Yeah, that one’s mine”. And I stop. And I look. And it is huge. We’re not talking some small, 4-person tinny, this thing is the size of something you’d take tourists on while whale watching in Sydney!
So, I asked him: “What do you do again?”
He said he works as a manager in an accounting firm and that he splits his time between Switzerland and Nice/Monaco.
Then we agreed to go back to his place - which was a huge, lavish estate, (was everything he had so big??) and we sit on the balcony, overlooking the rivera and share a bottle of prosecco. He tells me about his family and how he was estranged from his mother because he was gay and this resulted in his parents divorcing.
Then he tells me about his partner, whom he had bought this massive house with and had passed away three years ago. He explained his partner had been 67 at the time they met and he, 19. They had been together many years. I was shocked again.
So… he was a sugar baby? Okay, okay, but who am I to judge. It could’ve been legit, and after seeing the house and yacht, he was clearly in a loving relationship to have been left something. Not to mention, it turned into a pleasant evening, so who was I to think otherwise?
After I left I followed him on Instagram (where I see he also owned a private jet and a private helicopter) and that was that.
A few days later, I wake up, send off my morning snapchat streaks and check my other social platforms to browse through. I’m on Instagram, going through stories and that’s when I saw it.
My date had a story up from the night before…but who was the older gentleman cosying up to him???
Oh. My. Gawd.
His partner, who had supposedly “passed away” and left him his fortunes, was NOT dead!
So, the other night...?? Had I been… the sugar-daddy’s- sugar-baby’s… baby???!!?!?
Busan: My Korean Romeo
We went out one evening to go clubbing but my night ended abruptly when I wasn’t let into the club, because I didn’t have my passport and my Australian drivers licence wasn’t enough. (note to self: don’t lose your passport).
I left my friend and was stuck wandering around Seomyeon with nothing to do. So, as you do, I looked at some matches on my Tinder list to see if anyone was nearby when I saw HIS profile… a cute profile (tick), 21 years old (tick), goes to university (tick), “less than a kilometre away” (tick tick tick!)
I send him a message and about 5 minutes later, I get a reply saying he was heading to Haeundae (a popular area by the beach for clubs) and if I come he will buy me drinks.
Haeundae also happened to be where I was staying, so I figured I may as well go. When we finally met, I realised to my relief, yasss definitely NOT a catfish! He was wearing a dandy coat and an awkward, half-smile - totally adorable!
We go to a typical Korean restaurant that offers great snacks that you’re meant to have with drinks. We’re a bit awkward and shy at first, like a typical first date. But as we spoke and drank, before we knew it, we were there till 2am!
But then, out of nowhere, he tells me, he was born in 2002… and I’m like um what?!
My drunk self sits there doing the math in my head for a good 2 minutes trying to justify this situation (FYI, I’m born in ’98!). Then suddenly he calls me “nuna~” which means “older sister” in Korean and is used by Korean guys to girls and can be used for your girlfriend if she is older. I couldn’t help but smile and get all school-girl giggly when he called me this (do I have a thing for younger guys now? maybe!?).
The next moment that had me won over occurred closer to the 2am mark, where we stopped talking, stared deep into each others eyes and he says, “Omgg heart attack~!” I’m completely smitten by how smitten he is over me! But I have to tell him I was heading to Seoul the next day, but maybe I could stay a bit longer if there was a certain someone who might be interested in seeing me again (the answer: big yes!).
I was still in Korea for a few more weeks, so my arrangements to be in Seoul became more time spent in Busan with him! He was fascinated with learning English and called me sexy when I spoke it, “Sexy brain~” He would call me. Cringe I know, but I couldn’t help but smile at it! (It’s definitely the Korean cute factor)
I was surprised about how polite and kind he was, he seemed genuinely interested. Normally when I had met up with Korean men from Tinder it ended after the first date. With him, we spoke every day and met up frequently while I was in Busan. We were like an actual couple. He sent me things like, good morning messages when he woke up at 6am to go to work, or would tell me, “I studied English today”.
When it came time to leave for Australia he called me his Juliet. I was completely heartbroken to leave, he was someone I truly felt I connected with, but I had to come home eventually. Since coming home for this semester, we have still been messaging and talking! He is adamant he will keep learning English. Turns out you never know who you might find on Tinder!
Tokyo: “Where is my passport???”
It was a Saturday night. Everyone was either going to night markets or hitting up clubs. I had made other, ahem, cultural arrangements that night. The lead up was exciting just like any other time.
From her profile she was really cute and we spoke a lot online the days before. When we met, we had some drinks, tried some great Japanese food and communicating wasn’t too bad because she knew some English.
But, when we got back to her place, the hype kind of ended there. The girl was freaky. I hadn’t thought maybe being with a foreigner would bring different perspectives but mate, she was on a whole other level to me! It wasn’t great. And the stuff she wanted to try, turned out, was overrated. To say the least, we just weren’t compatible. I had to get out of there pretty fast because I was just not vibing it at all. Without trying to sound like a douche, I tell her I should probably leave and I did. It was a major disappointment that crushed my fantasy of getting lucky abroad.
But my true horror came the following morning. I woke up, got ready to head out until i thought, where is my passport?! I searched my room top to bottom, but it was nowhere to be seen. I freaked! What have I done??!
I don’t think I left it at hers... I didn’t even take public transport to get to her place as it had been in the same area as me… I have no idea what karma had been bestowed on me but those last 24 hours had turned into my biggest nightmare!! Geez, I know some people have had some great hook ups abroad, but personally, I’m staying the hell away from them!
The “Seoulful” experiences: “I wanted to practice the language”
In short, Australian guys hadn’t usually been my type. So being in South Korea for a short term, I wanted to see what might happen and if anything, at least I could practice the language! Knowing I was going to be there awhile, I also didn’t want to get lonely, so I gave it a go and man did I get a good response!
In short being “the foreigner” had its perks! I never received this kind of attention before. Even in bars or clubs you constantly had guys and girls alike approaching you. “Hey, where you from,” they’d say in English. To which I typically replied in Korean (to practice) and a Konglish conversation flowed from there.
People didn’t really use cheesy pick-up lines, unlike Australian Tinder. They were more direct when it came to looking for hookups and sometimes within 2 or 3 sentences the conversation went from zero-100 real quick! But you had to be careful though- soo many catfishes! I can’t explain why but, Korean people in general don’t do profile pics (!?).
But more than just having a little fun, the app helped me learn everyday slangs. I even made friends with girls, who were so sweet!! I realised for a place like Seoul there are very few chances for people to meet foreigners or practice English. So many people genuinely wanted to meet to hang out. It actually wasn’t necessarily a bad thing being the token, especially when it got you a lot of free drinks!
When I was on dates, I could really see them making an effort to communicate and they were patient whenever communication problems came up. So many ~wholesome~ experiences came from using it too! I went walking along the Han river, ate some great food and went to noraebang [karaoke]. One of my dates even taught me the proper way to pour drinks. Korea’s huge drinking culture and nightlife made for so, so, soo many great times! Sorry mum and dad, but I would definitely do it all again!