Thank you Korea, so long

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Thank you Korea, for the last six months. It's been good to stay awhile, to visit other cities other than Seoul, to be able to live with Gran for an extended time, to improve on my Korean, and all these on top of the awesome interning experience as well as catching up with friends and family.

Looking back on messages sent to friends during my Seoul sojourn, this pretty much sums up the first two thirds of my internship:

I'm doing well in Korea still. To give you an update:
My internship has been pretty intense so far. The PR & Events team I work for is really busy with more than three events each month, ranging from seminars to luncheon meetings, informal networking evenings and, on the 1st Dec recently past, we had our biggest of the year. For each event I help organise the press release, the booking forms, the emails to members, invitations, sponsorship materials... Lots of writing and phoning and invoices and following ups! The Gala just past was an 800 person event for which we worked our asses off. No going home before 9pm and no going home at all on the last week because home is too far and the workload is too much. The event went well but its been a sleepless month for us all, still recovering!

Since the Gala and the recovering 2013 came along, and it's been hard out membership campaign ever since at work. New interns have come to keep me company, and it's been a different kind of experience passing on the teaching and advises I've been learning and taking in for the first few months. 

Now here's another message I wrote the same friend a month later:

I only have three weeks until I leave Korea now (I'm kinda counting down, haha), and so my days are packed with last dates with friends and family. 
Before coming here, I thought I knew enough Korean but I knew that I didn't know the country well enough, because I have never travelled outside of Seoul. Turns out business Korean is not the same as everyday casual Korean, as in English. When I started work here it was really hard to find the right Korean equivalents for English words, for formal emails and documents and such. It was easier for writings, actually, because I had some time to search and think, but most of my works were done in English.
So when I had to phone people for sponsorships, of course most of them are Korean and that was really difficult. I literally read off a piece of paper that my colleague wrote for me!! Since then I've learnt a great deal and now can hold a good enough business conversation. They can still sometimes tell I'm not fully Korean because I have a slight accent, and I still have to guess the meaning of one out of every 5 or 6 words in each sentence, but all good!
I'm glad I got to travel to two very different cities from Seoul while here. One is Busan, the second city in Korea in the South where it's quieter and have several beaches. They have a strong dialect that I kept mistaking for Japanese (Japan is really close by, an hour's boat ride away), but I really liked the place. The second place was Jeju Island, even further South. Jeju is a favourite honeymoon destination of Koreans and it's beautiful. They have a pilgrimage route similar to Compostela de Santiago around the island, and the scenery reminded me a bit of NZ. I've been wanting to visit these two places for about five years, and now that I've finally been, I'm happy to leave Korea and not come back for about ten years.

That's because I've done all that I've come here to do, and am satisfied to be on my way now. I'm onto my next mission! To find full time work for real. There are so many things I want to do and so many places to be, but I decided I need to focus them down to just a few set places, for now. So I'm going back to my home Aotearoa to seek my path before venturing out again (who know, it may only take another six months, this time, too). 
Don't you know, there's a lot happening in my life right now, and I don't want to stop!

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