Category Archives: korea in the news

Let’s wrap this up?

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I’ve been a neglectful mother to my blog that I began nurturing back in late 2011. Writing is like a good workout for me. I think about it daily. I put it off and make excuses because IT’S HARD. Yet, I crave the satisfaction of walking away from the computer upon hitting the blue ‘Publish’ button after writing a time consuming and well-crafted post. Coming home has been fantastic, yet I feel as though I’m walking around constantly missing something. Did I forget my make-up? Do I have pants on? I am no longer an expat or a teacher in Korea and on top of that I have lost my ‘Travel Blogger’ title. Don’t get me wrong, I am ecstatic for what is next and I know I am ready for it, but I also know it is going to take some time and I miss having the blog platform to go to late at night or when I’m feeling creative.

photo5I may complain about not having a full-time job at the moment, but I know in a few weeks (fingers crossed) I will be missing mid-week beach visits like this one.

I arrived stateside about a month ago and it’s been a crazy yet wonderful return home to New England. Mere hours after landing in Boston and still battling jet-lag, my family descended upon Schenectady, NY for my brother’s graduation from Union College. After a weekend of reminiscing and lamenting to my parents as we passed early morning kegger remnants and sleepy-eyed students that, “Oh, those were the days…” we packed up my brother’s life and headed home. In the back of my mind I was thankful I was currently post-expat and not simply post-grad. Looking at the newly diploma-ed youngsters did bring me back to memories of late nights full of you-won’t-believe-it stories, but I also recognized that although I was job-less and living with my parents like many graduates would be for the summer of 2013, I had 17 months of Korea under my belt and in some mysterious way I knew the adventure was going to guide me to what was next.

photo2Portsmouth, NH, oh how I missed you!

I’ve spent the past month catching-up with friends and family, enjoying New Hampshire’s beach-lined coast, and missing Korea, and all the friends I left there. Oh, and when I’m not stuffing my face with hummus, making small-talk with (English speaking!) strangers in Starbucks and Trader Joe’s, loving the salty air and familiar landscapes of my beloved Martha’s Vineyard (Where I WILL own a house someday.), and sweating it out at my dearly missed Bikram yoga classes, I’ve been learning the art of NETWORKING, because really people, THIS IS HOW YOU GET A JOB.

photo1Early morning lessons and networking with Stonyfield Social Media experts!

I won’t bore you with all the details, but finding a full-time job is a full-time job and as hectic as it’s been it’s also been kind of fun. I’ve entered rooms full of strangers and forced myself to mingle. I’ve woken up at 6am to eat bagels and sip coffee with other ‘Social Media Enthusiasts’ at the #PortsBkfstClub. I’ve reached out to company owners and New Hampshire leaders through LinkedIn and friends of friends of friends. I’ve answered questions about my past and done so honestly and I’ve gotten fantastic responses to my answer, “I was teaching and living in Korea and I just got home and now I am job searching…” Korea gave me Psy socks, a new appreciation for barbecue, and life-long friends, but it also gave me a sense of confidence and the assurance that everything is going to work out. I’ll have to revisit Korea someday and thank the old jimjilbang ajummas and my Korean students, because if you can survive a naked scrub-down from an old woman and manage to control a room full of horse-dancing Korean speaking children all in one week, you can do anything.

photo3Catching up with old friends is hectic. We couldn’t stop chatting to take a photo!

I’ve come to the realization that while living and teaching in Korea may stand out on a resume timeline, it definitely brightens the page rather than tarnishing it. I’ve had to formulate some creative answers to show people how my time in Korea prepared me for my future career in marketing and communications, but it’s been a good exercise for me to find multiple ways to tell a story. And isn’t that exactly what I was doing in Korea? Staring back at adorably clueless Korean faces after explaining a lesson in English forced me to find a different way of expressing myself. I want to continue to create stories and find clever ways of telling them and luckily I’m re-entering the world of communications where content marketing is “about continuous storytelling. It’s about a steady stream of storytelling innovations—large and small—delivered as an ongoing pulse. A drumbeat.” (Read more from Jake Sorofman’s blog post here.)

photo4You can travel around the world, but nothing beats a familiar summer sunset from your porch.

It is encouraging to see that people are still using this blog as a tool for living the ‘Expat life in Korea’ and I hope to remain a resource for those of you who have questions or comments. As my job search continues I am also working on creating a new blog for my new adventure. Who knows, ‘The Expat Comes Home’…and FINDS A JOB? Or perhaps overdoses on hummus? You’ll have to stay tuned. So, I guess this isn’t about wrapping it up, it’s just the beginning!

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Filed under devan teacher, korea in the news, travel, yoga

My 2012: While you were busy Googling ‘What is a Gangnam?’…

meandpsy1

Any worries I had about ‘losing touch’ during my year abroad in Southeast Asia were quickly shattered one July night while I lay in a hostel bunk-bed in Taiwan. I opened my iPad to find an adorable yet slightly chubby Korean man decked out in hip glasses, a funky suit and an irresistible smirk busy bombarding every one of my bookmarked websites. That moment and many more in the following days and months reassured me that my move to Korea would not hinder my mission to stay relevantly informed about all things social. I could in fact keep in touch with friends, family and my growing passion (slight obsession) with social media creation and strategy. Gangnam Style gave me a slight home-court advantage. While most Americans were busy Googling: ‘What the heck is a Gangnam?’, ‘Where did K-Pop come from?’ and ‘Who is Psy and is that his real name?’ I had time to catch up on my backlogged and favorited Tweets from Mashable, Gawker, Social Media Examiner and more.

At first my fellow teacher friends in Seoul eagerly posted the horse-dance video, just for kicks, to all available social wall space. Then, when the YouTube view count refused to plateau, I casually mentioned the video in Skype conversation with a friend who was enjoying the summer in New England. She giggled at the elevator dance scene and commented, “Wow Devan, Korea looks like a fun time.” A week later a second reply was digitally served, “So, you know that video you showed me? It’s here. It’s everywhere. It’s blowing up.” And although I scoffed at my real-life and Twitter friends who continued to miserably misspell ‘Gangnam’ in posts and had never been out clubbing in the song’s swanky section of Seoul, I was proud of Psy and the small yet fiercely determined, extremely successful, technologically advanced and warmhearted country that I chose to call home in 2012.

As I prepare to return home to NH in the next few months and further my career in social media strategy and communications, many details are uncertain. Job searching is a job in itself, but throw in 7,000 miles and a 14 hour time difference between you and your target professional setting  and it becomes almost as challenging as mastering the horse-dance while fumbling through a few Korean lyrics about “a girl with that kind of twist”.

I know some may question why I up and left a marketing job in Boston to move to Korea to teach ESL and eat kimchi at every meal. I don’t think I will be able to answer this question fully for another few years, but I can say I am happier now than I was a year ago and I spent 2012 in close proximity to one of the year’s biggest social media stories. My time in Korea will always and forever be smack dab in the middle of ‘The Year of Gangnam Style’. Or maybe I have that mixed up: Psy’s year of fame just happened to occur during ‘Devan’s Korea Quest.’ Please, just for now, let me believe the latter to be true.

meandpsybest

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Filed under departure, devan teacher, korea in the news, music, seoul, travel

ARC: so official

hunger games <3
hunger games ❤

This past week I found myself feeling a tad jealous of my friends and family back home in New England soaking in the unseasonably warm weather. As if missing the HUNGER GAMES PREMIERE wasn’t enough (I have to wait until next month)!!! I felt the most resentment when I was running against fiercely cold wind and the sky began to spit snow on Saturday. I’m not a fan of the cold or snow, so I was very lucky to have such a mild winter. My months in NH before Korea were snow-less, except of course for a freak small snow storm on Halloween weekend. Since arriving in Korea I have experienced a few cold days, but nothing extreme. The weather has been pretty predictable spring weather…what the weather should be in NE. I guess I will just have to deal with all the annoying Facebook statuses for now: “BBQ and drinks outside!”, “I just got a sunburn during my lunch break!” and “Heading to the beach!”. I did discover that my apartment building has a great roof-deck this weekend – I am pumped to soak in the sun as soon as possible. Enjoy your short-lived tans New Englanders!!

I received my ARC (Alien Registration Card) this week – so I am OFFICIAL! It’s nice to have an ID to carry around. Most of my friends from training had to wait until they got their ARCs to set up a bank account or purchase a cell phone. I was lucky and was able to do both of these things without one.

I finished my 4th week of teaching on Friday and completed mini report cards for each student I teach. My time in the classroom has flown by, but it was interesting to look back and realize how much we have accomplished in the past few weeks. Many of my students have become much more confident in their English abilities. A few were so shy and it was a struggle to get them to utter a few words of English in week 1. Now they are raising their hands and are so eager to read or answer questions out-loud in class. Of course it didn’t hurt that I encouraged the “points” system. During class I have all of the student names on the white board and each time they earn a point for doing something fantastic I mark it next to their name. If they earn a certain amount of points during class they can collect official paper points from me at the end of class. They can use the points to buy snacks and candy from the school. It is amazing how much these students value their points. If someone acts up during class I simply erase one of their points on the board and the student quickly ceases any disruptive behavior.

I went into Seoul on Saturday with a new friend I met in Uijeongbu. We met up with 2 of my college friends for dinner and then headed back home early around 11pm to avoid the subway shut-down. If you go out in Seoul you have to either head home early at 11pm or stay out until 5:30am when the subway re-opens (or pay for an expensive cab). Every time I venture into Seoul I gain a bit more confidence in my subway navigation skills. It’s great to know if I want to I can get myself into Seoul and home again no problem. I have also mastered a few of the buses in my town. I can get from my apartment to downtown Uijeongbu or to the subway station. I still have a lot to learn of course…

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Lastly, here is an excerpt from an article about Obama’s trip to the DMZ today. He was in my backyard (kind of):

CAMP BONIFAS, South Korea (Reuters) – President Barack Obama peered across South Korea’s tense border with the North on Sunday in a show of solidarity with U.S. ally Seoul and a message of resolve to Pyongyang’s new young ruler in his country’s nuclear standoff with the West.

Arriving on the eve of a global summit on nuclear security hosted by South Korea, Obama flew by helicopter to a U.S. base on the edge of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) as a solemn North Korea came to a halt to mark the 100th day after “dear leader” Kim Jong-il’s death.

“You guys are at freedom’s frontier,” Obama told about 50 troops crammed into the Camp Bonifas mess at one of the world’s most heavily fortified frontiers.

“The contrast between South Korea and North Korea could not be clearer, could not be starker, both in terms of freedom and in terms of prosperity.”

He spent about 10 minutes on a viewing platform at the DMZ, talking with some of the soldiers on guard as the flags of the United States, South Korea and the United Nations flapped loudly in the brisk, cold wind.

(http://news.yahoo.com/obama-visits-tense-korean-border-ahead-nuclear-summit-024028940.html)

 

 

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Filed under korea in the news, seoul, uijeongbu