Sarah Stremme had a perfect job that she loved, a comfortable apartment and a wedding on the horizon. She’d used her savvy networking skills and marketing degree to land a position with Intouch Solutions, a digital pharmaceutical advertising agency in Kansas City, Kan.
“I would sit at my desk and dream of all the places I still wanted to visit before I settled down. Then it hit me. I was settled - I was doing all the conventional things you do after college graduation, but I wasn’t being fulfilled,” said Stremme, who initially moved to South Korea after graduation to teach, and backpack across Southeast Asia before returning to Kansas.
A year and a half later, Stremme and her husband began discussing the possibility of returning to Korea to teach. As their excitement mounted, details began to fall into place. Currently, they are into their second year of teaching in the fishing town of Pohang City, in the Gyeongsangbuk-Do province of South Korea.
“Everyday I learn something new. I speak very little Korean, so sometimes conversations get really interesting. I am pretty much the master of charades, but I enjoy the challenge,” said Stremme, who cites her love for travel to her globe trotting experiences while at Drury. She studied abroad in Greece, and as a member of the Drury ENACTUS team, traveled to South Africa to build food tents and water purifiers.
“Drury helped to broaden my understanding of the world outside the comfort bubble of Springfield. The professors encouraged us to get out there and see what the world had to offer. So, that’s what I am doing,” said Stremme.
Kristen Pflumm, recent marketing and management graduate, has been employed in Spain since fall 2012 as an Auxiliar de Conversacion, which is Spanish for a language/teaching assistant. The program is offered through a grant from the Spanish government who place native English speakers all over Spain in either primary or secondary schools.
“Honestly, I wanted to work abroad, because I wasn’t ready for a big girl job yet. The job market at home is still weak and I saw this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to work, travel, and live in a foreign country all at the same time,” said Pflumm, who learned of the opportunity from her sister, who also participated in the program for two years and gave rave reviews.
And so that is exactly what she did, embracing all the adventures that come from living the life of an expat.
“Everything is a bit more complicated here. For example, banks close at 2:00 p.m., grocery stores are closed on Sunday, you rely on public transportation, and the language barrier makes things difficult as well. But, it’s all part of the experience,” said Pflumm, who also credits her transition into working abroad to her study abroad experience while at Drury.
“My professors at Drury made me think analytically and encouraged me to think outside of the box, which is an invaluable skill. I think it’s wonderful that Drury wants to push and encourage its students to follow their dreams no matter what they are,” said Pflumm.
Pflumm and Stremme both highly recommend graduating seniors explore opportunities abroad.
“After graduation, the world is seriously your oyster,” said Stremme. “It doesn’t have to be a year, but go abroad now, while you’re young and don’t mind sleeping in hostels, overnight trains and airports.”
Adds Pflumm, “Look for opportunities that are outside the norm, and if you have a true passion for something, just go for it. I remember everyone asking me what I was doing after school and I got so sick of it, because I felt like saying ‘I’m hopefully teaching in Spain’ didn’t sound super legit. Don’t let everyone else’s expectations of what you should do dictate what you actually want to do – be brave!”
You can follow along with Sarah’s adventures at SaraheStremme.blogpost.com.
Written by Yelena Bosovik, senior finance and economics major at Drury University.