Roketship


Teachenglishcaribbean is pleased to interview our first comic blogger, Luke Martin, who currently has his own website http://www.roketship.com. Since living in South Korea, he noticed the many small and large ways that life is different in the country and, on his wife’s suggestion, he began drawing a comic strip about them. Hence, the magic that became, ROKetship! (ROK = Republic of Korea). The strip is a cultural comedy of sorts, which pokes fun at foreign life on this planet called, South Korea!

1. When did you start drawing comics?

I started drawing cartoons on a family trip to Florida, when I was nine, though it wasn’t until I was 12 that I actually started to format my drawings into comics. My family was gathered at my grandmother’s house after, after her funeral. I remember sitting there, watching everyone feel so sad. It was at that point, that I decided to sketch out a gag I had been kicking around in my head. I went around the room showing all of the adults and watching them crack a smile. It was my way of helping them feel better. I still feel a smile is the greatest compliment to one of my drawings.

2. Who is your inspiration for ROKetship?

My wife and I, as well as the entire expat community in Korea! The strip was meant to provide an outlet for all of the confusing and frustrating things we would encounter while trying to adapt to a totally different way of life. Often, I would just draw about things that happened to me that day or that readers would write in to tell me about. ROKetship is about shared experiences, which I think is a big part of why people enjoy the strip.

3. How long did you live in S. Korea?

Just over 2 years.

4. What did you do there? Have you taught English in another country?

I taught English in a private, after-school program for a year and then I taught middle school in the public school system the following year. I haven’t taught anywhere else, though I’d love the opportunity.

5. Did most of the scenes in the comics come from personal experience? Give an example of one experience.

Yes, absolutely! A good example would be the comic of the old woman staring, openly at the foreigner on the subway. This was a daily occurrence. Also the one where the foreigner is so proud of himself for ordering pizza on the phone. He feels he’s really grasping the language, although he ordered exclusively in Konglish (English words adopted into the Korean vernacular, but pronounced slightly differently.) Yeah, guilty!

6. What challenges did you experience when marketing your comic book?

I had more issue in producing the book. There was a language barrier which hindered using a Korean printer. I chose to use an American printer instead, only to find out that shipping would be more costly than I anticipated. Also, many of the bookstores refuse to carry books which are not represented by a known publisher/distributor.

Marketing was the fun part, though I’m fortunate that a lot of factors fell into place at the right time. The local expat publications were already carrying the strip, which provided a lot of exposure and we had a very active online community on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and Tumblr. That helped to get the word out as well as some great reviews and a shout out from Seoul Podcast. We did some signing events as well.

7. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

LOL! Good question! I imagine I’ll be a happy husband and father with a webcomic and/or an online business…definitely more stamps in my passport. I intend to return to school to get a higher degree in hopes of eventually teaching at a university level. Somewhere in that ballpark, I suppose 🙂

8.What future plans do you have for Roketship?

I have considered a follow-up book, based on reverse culture shock after returning home from living overseas. I think there would be a lot of material there and that people would be able to relate to that. I also am exploring the idea of doing some resource materials for teachers: somethings that worked for me and which could be presented in a humorous and helpful way. I, of course, want to keep marketing the book and hopefully it will continue to be relevant and a good source of humor/therapy for those teaching overseas!

To order Luke’s book email him at luke@roketship.com                   http://www.facebook.com/pages/ROKetship/34214005228

Top Five Countries to Work


1. Dubai – Dubai is booming, so there are a lot jobs available there. A very significant perk for living and working in Dubai is that it is TAX FREE!

2. Canada is one of the largest countries in the world, also one of the most powerful and the one of the most favored countries to live in. It is also considered as one of the cleanest countries in the world.

3. United States – The Land of Milk and Honey is the most powerful and still one of the most favored destinations of most expatriates as it has thousand of things to offer.

4.  The United Kingdom is the biggest island in Europe. It is one of the most powerful, influential countries in the world and is unquestionably one of the foreigners desired workplace.

Australia is one of the most powerful countries in the world. Australia is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent (the world’s smallest). Aside from being one of the richest countries in the world, it is also one of the most livable countries for giving its citizen a good quality of life. Healthcare is not issues in Australia for all citizens are entitled to get medical benefits as well as retirement package for the elderly.

So let us look at the country at the top of the List – Dubai. Dubai is one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is located south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula and has the largest population with the second-largest land territory by area of all the emirates, after Abu Dhabi. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only two emirates to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country’s legislature.

Here is an account of Alison Andrew’s experience living and working in Dubai:

The weather in Dubai is nothing less than FANTASTIC! I love warm weather and it sure is warm here. For around 4-6 weeks in mid-winter it gets a little chilly, dropping down to around 11 degrees Celsius at night and in the early mornings, however by mid day the temperature has risen again to around 22-26 degrees.

The cost of living in Dubai is fairly high, but it’s relative to the salaries here. Rents are comparable to any big city, and in fact are generally FAR more reasonable than cities like London or New York (though a couple of years ago this wasn’t the case!).

The job market is still fantastic but of course it did take a knock from the recession along with the rest of the world. However, people are still being employed and there are still job vacancies being advertised all across the Emirate, so if you wanted to explore the option of living and working in Dubai don’t let the economy deter you, start putting feelers out.

A very significant perk for living and working in Dubai is that it is TAX FREE! This is pretty major indeed. What you earn, you earn. You get EVERY PENNY! So this is definitely something that entices a lot of people to come here.

As far as food is concerned, you’ll find that living and working in Dubai you can get everything you would expect to get in any first world country, there are lots of major supermarket chains, such as Geant, Carrefour, Waitrose and Spinneys.

When it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables, because this is imported in, we usually have a pick of fruits from all over the world. So, for a few weeks we’ll be getting mangoes from Kenya, and then they’ll be coming from India, and then from Pakistan. Our watermelons will be coming from Saudi Arabia, and then from Oman, and then from Egypt, etc. So we generally get our pick of great fruit from wherever it happens to be in season. The further it has traveled the more expensive it is.

There is every type of restaurant you could imagine: an enormous array of Indian restaurants, Arabic, Thai, Italian, Japanese, whatever you can think of. Vegans and vegetarians are really well catered for, raw vegans less so.

Dubai is very tolerant of different religions, but it is absolutely expected that if you are living and working in Dubai that you treat the religious culture respectfully. This is especially true during Ramadan where you may not eat or drink in public from sun up to sun down.

You also need to take a little more care in dressing and keep the hot pants and tiny halters for when you’re actually ON the beach. Make sure you wear something modest for when you’re walking around in town or going to the mall or any government office. Certain malls have dress codes and won’t exactly throw you out, but you might be given a little ‘courtesy card’ which asks that you respect the dress code, i.e. shirts with covered shoulders and skirts/shorts not above the knee.

It is also best to keep the public displays of affection to a minimum when you’re out in public. You never know if you may offend someone, and if you do, they are entitled to make a complaint, and you could get into hot water.

Living and working in Dubai has been very good for me. I have had the opportunity to begin living my dreams and doing the work that I have always wanted to do. I choose to connect with this city as my temporary home and to connect with the whole experience of living and working in Dubai. If you should choose to visit or begin living and working in Dubai yourself, I hope that it will be very good to you too.

For more information about Alison’s adventures check out her blog at http://www.alison-andrews.com/