The Returnee Diaries: First Study Abroad Fair

Today I participated in my first study abroad fair of the year. For those of you wondering why this matters, I’m the first (and only) person to study abroad at Sogang University during the school year (summer doesn’t count).  And since I was there for an entire academic year, my university (and Sogang) thinks that I’m the best person for the job.

So here’s what I was working with:

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Needless to say I felt that my table was quite inadequate to those of the other programs.

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“I don’t have a tablecloth or a brochure holder!”

However my humble table and I worked on our bond while I looked enviously at the Australia/New Zealand/ Southeast Asia program table.

"She's taking all my customers!"

“She’s taking all my customers!”

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This song sums up my feelings more than I can:

If you [pass my table] walkin’ down the street

And I start to cry each time we meet

Walk on by, walk on by

Make me believe that you don’t see the tears

Just let me grieve in private

‘Cos each time I see you, I break down and cry

Walk on by, walk on by, walk on by

Oh I just can’t get over losing you

So if I seem broken in two

Walk on by, walk on by

Foolish pride is all that I have left

So let me hide the tears and all the sadness

That you gave me when you said, “Goodbye”

Walk on by, walk on by

Walk on by, walk on by

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I had to do something- it had almost been an hour already and people barely gave my table and I a passing glance. I then remembered what brought Korean students to my university’s back corner table at Sogang’s Study Abroad Fair last spring: signs. People love signs.

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So lacking both paper and a sign holder, I had to improvise on the back page of my university’s study abroad FAQ page.

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So I took my sign and held it up, on my forehead or near my head and sometimes using it to fan myself (with the words facing the walkway).  When I was making eye contact with people, some smiled; others just “walked on by”; one guy gave me the WTF look.

But it worked. People came (not in droves, but it was certainly better than indifference or a cursory glance).

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I think about 10 people came in the span of 2 and a half hours. One was a black K-pop fan who was recruited by her black friend, the other a Japanese history professor and researcher, a representative from another American university, a few Asians/Asian Americans, and a couple of white girls (one of which was adorable-she was one of the ones who saw my sign earlier and smiled).

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And then one of the assistants from the study abroad office complemented me on my Sogang varsity letterman jacket. “Shut Up!” (of Stacy London fame) he said. Later on, a cafeteria worker also complimented me on my jacket.

So at the end of the day I was like

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P.S. I tried to play some K-pop (and even made a playlist while I was waiting for people to grace me with their presence) but the DJ kept playing his set of jazz and house (not that it was bad) until it was almost time to go. So I ended up playing some hits while everyone was cleaning up. No one seemed to mind.

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