Friday, May 10, 2013

why not stay longer?

Several different people, friends and commenters, have approached me with the question of why I don't stay longer in Korea so as to be able to snag face-to-face interviews happening later in the month. I thought I'd address that question in this post.

The issue is this: it's possible I could stay longer, but not probable. Why?

1. I have two sets of plane tickets to get me from DC to Korea, and back to DC again. One set is a generous contribution from my buddy Tom, who faithfully flies Asiana Airlines, and who dumped 70,000 of his hard-earned air miles into buying me a ticket. Unfortunately, Asiana being Asiana, Tom was unable to secure a DC-Seoul-DC route. The route he got me was New York-Seoul-Seattle. Flying to New York and flying from Seattle were thus left up to me, so I went online and found a peach of a deal on Orbitz for a $65 one-way ticket to NYC. Tickets from Seattle to DC, however, weren't cheap, and I eventually had to settle for a $400 ticket back to DC. Ouch. Buying tickets through sites like Orbitz and Travelocity means that one's tickets are non-changeable and non-refundable. Were I to extend my stay in Korea, then, I'd be out $400. That's one strong motivation not to prolong my sojourn.

2. My job at YB constrains me. In theory, I could ask my bosses for a two-week extension of my trip. Since I'm already in Korea, they'd have little power to say "no" if I took it upon myself to stay, anyway. What they could do, though, is fire me. My immediate bosses aren't cruel or vindictive people, though; I doubt they'd be the ones to hand me my walking papers. If anything, the office ladies are actually rooting for me to get work in Korea. This also applies to our regional manager, with whom I'm on very good terms, and who also signed off on my six-week trip around the globe. The problem is mainly with the higher-ups (remember furious Ted?), who have already taken a dim view of my trip because of its unfortunate timing. You see, for YB, June is the end of the fiscal year, so it's crunch time. I'm currently involved in a five-book set of projects (on which I'm working remotely) that will need to be finished very soon. I'm working at a rate of about a book per week. My ducking out, right in the middle of the big rush, puts me on thin ice. So it's not just a matter of my making someone upset: it's also a matter of whether I'll still be employed if I push too hard.

Those are the two major reasons why I can't extend my stay. At this point, the only thing I can do is hope to be interviewed by somebody before I leave Korea. Very little lies within my power, so I have to be as charming as possible on paper. Of course, I'm not entirely helpless: I can speed up the process by visiting various campuses, making my presence known, and prodding the slow bureaucrats into either interviewing me later next week, or promising to interview me via Skype once I'm back in the States. I've already extracted one such promise from an SNU staffer. Others will follow suit.


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