Saturday, May 28, 2016

Come to HUFS, see the world

Five years ago in a Beijing hotel, I saw an ad in the Chronicle of Higher Education for a position as Senior Lecturer at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS). At the time, I was on a short-term contract as a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Tsinghua University with little certainty about the future. With my PhD less than a year old and only a handful of publications, I was very far from my current job security as a tenured associate professor in Umeå. Yet, the world laid open with nothing holding me back so I submitted an application. A month later, after a rather confused phone interview in Osaka I landed the contract with a one-way air ticket to Seoul.

In the end, I spent three fascinating years at HUFS, meeting many remarkable people, like my super-bright student Sarah with whom I later came to co-author a paper on the domestic Korean climate change debate. During those years, I also travelled like never before, in part due to necessity (our faculty dorm room was simply unbearably small and hot for a family) but primarily out of choice. I would not say that all the travelling gave me a “global perspective” or anything but it exposed me to snippets of alternative lifeforms and realities. In part I fear I also became a bit like the person I once mocked. But still, when making bulgogi in Gothenburg the other week, I realized that the journey is very much with me even as I never felt more settled. For more on that, once we get everything in order, there will soon be some pictures from our new home at Lyktvägen 5A in Tomtebo.

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