“It’s hard to go from living alone in East Asia to living in your parents’ attic,” says Godfrey.
After graduation, Godfrey felt what many students do, “[T]hat weird, gray area post-graduation, I guess pre-real-life.” He had worked at various office jobs and interned at the Beacon Hill Times as a photographer. When he started writing for Pulse Magazine, Godfrey says, “I started reading a lot of travel writing, so I wanted to make traveling a little more prominent in my life.”
Friend and fellow Suffolk graduate Larry Boire (’07) explored the idea of teaching abroad, which intrigued Godfrey as well, however, he didn’t think much would come of it. “He brought it up and I figured it would be one of those things that you would talk about that would never happen.”
Boire left for South Korea and the two friends lost touch, but the idea of teaching abroad stuck in Godfrey’s mind. Godfrey later called his friend. “He raved about it so I sort of made the decision to do it. He set me up with his recruiter and I was out a couple months after that, to the first job that I had in a little city called Cheongju.”
Upon arriving in Seoul, Godfrey noticed major cultural changes; for example, US employers tend to frown upon mixing business with pleasure, but it seemed the opposite in Seoul.
“Even working at school, [in Korea] it’s common to go out with everybody and just drink and eat. Whereas in the US, I feel like it’s not very typical to go out and party with your boss; here it’s almost just part of work.” Godfrey explained that a typical office outing can lead to karaoke, called, Noribong. “You’re inevitably just pushed up to the front to sing.” He adds, “I avoid those places as often as I can.”
Godfrey has had his fair share of struggles with the language barrier, admitting he didn’t know one word of Korean prior to his arrival, but that’s part of the charm of being abroad, as is trying new cuisine.
“Recently, I was trying to order a pork dish because usually, almost every day, I end up getting kimchi soup. I believe (the waitress) was trying to tell me that they had no pork, but to me it just seemed like she was yelling at me. What came out were rice and about a million octopus tentacles,” recounts Godfrey, who doesn’t enjoy seafood. “That stuff happens. It happens pretty frequently. You just tell the story later.”
While at Suffolk, Godfrey was a frequent student in Senior Lecturer Ken Martin’s photography and photojournalism classes. He explains how Martin’s classes and his advisor, Associate Professor Shoshanna Madmoni-Gerber, had influenced his decision to teach abroad. Martin recalls the first signs of Godfrey’s travel bug, “I could tell in class that he had that certain light in his eyes.” Godfrey recalls a meeting with Madmoni-Gerber during which he told her, ‘travel’s more important.’ I always regretted not studying abroad during university. But her and Ken Martin, I guess all their stories sort of stuck with me.”
Godfrey decided it was his time to start making his own stories. He keeps a travel-blog ; and is an editor for the online magazine, The KamikazeMag, which he started with friends prior to living in Korean. The online publications are a great way for Godfrey to share his adventures and stay connected with friends and family at home, even though there are momentary feelings of homesickness.
After teaching for a year, he returned home but was compelled to travel to Seoul again. “People are interested to hear your stories for a time, but you can only make so many jokes about kimchi and what-not before people just… stop caring. You start missing the life that you had.”
When asked if he’ll commit to another year, Godfrey said, “I left Boston and I spent a long time comparing my city to Boston and wishing I was in Boston. And I did that also, when I came home from Korea. I think it’s important to stay somewhere until you’re really finished with it.”
Wherever Godfrey will be in a year, he certainly has a lifetime of stories to tell about his overseas adventures.