Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reason Behind the Name

It has been spinning in my head for quite some time now to mention about how I came to name my blog Foreign/er. Also if you notice my name "Joy" is in the blog title inside the URL.

I came to this name "Foreign/er" when I was preparing to come to Korea and knew I wanted to blog about my experience here. Before coming to Korea I had graduated college and was working at an insurance company. It was banal work of making reports and researching quotes online. If I had stayed with that job and got into becoming an insurance agent I probably could still be living in San Francisco and making a nice sum of money. The picture is that I was a post-graduate living in a 2-bedroom apartment, with a roommate, and dreams of becoming something other than an insurance agent.

I had always wanted to go abroad either to study or just to have the experience, because I had never been outside the American border. During my junior year of college I was working on applying to study abroad in China, but after I became seriously ill the idea was let go.

There I was sitting in the insurance office and making my plans for teaching in Korea. I was thinking about what my experience would be like when I got to Korea. It came to me that Korea would be a foreign country and provide many foreign experiences. But I also realized that I would be a foreigner to Korean's eyes. I immediately realized that there was a dual relationship of living abroad.
  • Korea is foreign to me.
  • I am foreign to Koreans. 
That is where I came up with "Foreign/er". To put a "/" there between "Foreign" and "er" felt appropriate. I knew I would have experiences of seeing the foreign and that Korean people would have experiences of seeing me the foreigner.

To this day this concept still holds strong in my mind, especially when I am caught in a moment where a Korean person (old, young, middle aged) stares at me for a long time. In that moment I experience this "Foreign/er" concept of mine and actually try to hold on to it. I stare back and smile, which works really well with children.

The "Foreign/er" concept has presented itself in many situations as I have lived here. Many times I experience it with my boyfriend when we have a conversation about Korean life and society and find ourselves disagreeing. Other times I have it when I am experiencing something distinctly cultural about Korea, that can't be had anywhere else in the world.

This concept can also apply to my work where I have had struggles with accepting and understanding the dynamics of the Korean workplace. Along with being in the classroom and having moments with my students.

You might think that this is a kind of "outsider" and "insider" way of looking at one's life here in Korea. Or an "us" vs. "them" point-of-view. But I beg to differ, because the way I see it is that I am attempting to see myself from both my own point of view and that of the people of Korea.

I keep track of my blog by using Google Analytics, which is a software that can tell you what keywords people put in to get to your blog and which websites are linking you. Surprisingly, the number one keyword for a long time that people use to end up on my blog is Foreigner Joy. I don't know if this is because they heard my blog's name somewhere or they are specifically looking for "joy" from a "foreigner". If it is the latter one than I have to think people are coming to my blog to find foreigners feeling happy in Korea. One wonders if these people find what they are looking for when they come here, mostly because I have expressed my discomforts towards Korea. But I do try my best to balance it out with positive posts.


The thing is having the name "Joy" people might think that you are joyous all the time. Or that you are going to write about joyful things as a theme. That is fine, but so far I haven't explicitly done this on my blog. Yet it's an idea I am willing to toss around and use.

There you have it, the reason behind my blog's name "Foreign/er" or "Foreigner Joy." I hope this sheds some insight into the psychosis of my blog.

Let me know your opinion of my blog's title and what you thought it meant when you first stumbled onto it. Otherwise it would be fun to hear any catchy K-Blogger titles you have been thinking of.

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