Leave a Comment

My Non-Valedictorian Speech That Was Never Caught on Camera

gradMe looking all grown-up and holding my $40,000 degree (no taxes!)
Photo source: Un-graduating friend working as my assistant du jour

Hello Citizens of the Internet!

I graduated today, and since I was not one of those fancy valedictorian-summa cum laude people, I decided to write a little dedication to the wonderful people I met during my five years at university. There’s a little part dedicated to the horrible people too, but feel free to skip over that.


Dear Professors who wrote me recommendation letters for graduate school: Thank you for accepting and writing recommendation letters for me. Because I wasn’t an excellent student and you had no reason to write them. From one of you I took two development courses in which I got As, which was great. But from another of you, I’d only gotten Bs in history, and I kind of know that you didn’t really know who I was until I turned up at your office asking for a recommendation. But I know you were too gracious to say “Oh, you’re that B student who now wants letters?” like some of the other professors did. And the third professor, I know I only took one of your courses sophomore year, and yet you agreed to write me FOUR letters. My god. Thank you. That’s amazing. I don’t even know what to say. And to all three professors, thank you for shaking my hand during Commencement and congratulating my admission to the programs I wanted. It felt earnest, not like one of those Hallmark thank-yous.

Dear Professors who promised to write me letters but then mysteriously disappeared: I know you have no real obligation to help me, but you could have just said no, instead of disappearing mysteriously and never replying to my e-mails once applications began. That would have been professional (because we know you get a separate paycheck for providing academic advice).

Dear Partner from Firm I Interned At: I think it was technically your authority to hire me, even though it was probably the Associate who did the scouting. Anyway, thank you for giving me the opportunity to work in a fantastic firm, being nice to the interns, and for letting me use your iPad to watch Spartacus. I hear you’re a Chairman at a Korean chaebol now, and honestly I’m not surprised. By the way, your teammates were all talking shit about you behind your back, but that’s not your fault. That’s what partners have to deal with, right? I’d also like to thank the Senior Associate who gave me challenging jobs, like calling US experts for interviews at 6 in the morning by myself.

Dear People Who’ve Given Me Jobs Over the Years: Thank you for trusting me and paying me. And getting me started on my career. I can promise you I did my best and will continue to. Even the pro bono.

Dear Wonderful & Weird Friends Who Put Up With My Awkwardness: You guys are all too cool for me, and yet you hang out with me.

Dear People Who Crash at My House and Clean Up Afterwards: It’s couchcrashers like you who get invited again. You also bring food and tea and water to keep me stocked.

Dear Gay Brothers and Sisters: I know one of those crazy Christians took the “Happy Graduation, KU LGBTs!” posters and tore it to shreds. Those lunatics. But I know we’re all stronger than their crap, so I don’t worry about that anymore. We’re here, we’re queer, bring us the light beer!

Dear Friends From College I Can’t Remember How We Met But We Still Hang Out: I find it extremely humbling and cool that you’re greatly intelligent people yet never show it. You’re med students and lawyers and businesspeople and overall, people who stand up for the things that matter in life, are busy as hell, and yet you still make time to meet me and talk about your lives.

Dear Friends in my major I don’t really know that well: Hi everyone. I know I haven’t been socialising much, and I never really remember your names that well, especially you Kate and Kathy and Cate and Kat. But thanks for saying hi to me at Commencement, and telling me a little about your lives. That was sweet. Also, I’m really surprised and happy two of you are going to Med school, that’s so cool.

Dear Plastic Surgery Girl from Eng Lit: I’m really sorry, but your blatant plastic surgery  plus layers of make-up is like a magnet. I couldn’t help but stare all term, and I sincerely apologise. I know it’s wrong to stare at people. I know it’s misogynic as hell. But I was uneducated as fuck back then and I used to think nothing of judging women by their looks.

Dear Welsh Friend Who Taught Me How To Speak With A Scottish Accent: Long live Liz Lochhead, and the many accents of the UK! Also, I think you bought me more cups of tea than I ever bought you. I still don’t quite know if it’s because you think my accent is genuinely interesting and worth studying, or because you’re such a British gentleman (or maybe you’re really rich, like Eton rich).

Dear British Exchange Student Who Crashed My House Party By Bringing Five More People to a 6-Person Party At a 13m2 Flat: Girl, you’re cool and all. But my apartment is tiny. And I don’t know you that well. I also only invite people I know and like. With the six of us it was already pretty jammed. And them you went and brought five more people, whom I didn’t even know, to my doorstep. I can’t say “no” to people who are on my doorstep! Anyway, you crashed the good conversation we were having, because with 11 people in my flat it was impossible to hear anyone anymore.

Dear Scottish Exchange Student Who Has An Issue With Women: Um, if a girl asks you out and you don’t like her, it’s not the end of the world. You don’t have to block me on Facebook and LinkedIn and run out of the lecture room every time class is over. I’m not going to pin you to the wall and rape you. Wait, maybe you’re gay and I intimidated you. Hey, that’s a good way to look at things. Anyway, you said “Hey, let’s travel in Scotland by car together”, so I asked you out on a date just to see if that was going anywhere. Relax, man. Hope you handle things better now. And if you’re out of the closet now, Thank God. (insert rainbow emoticons)

Dear Austrian Banking Student Who Helped Me At Work: Hey, thanks do much for the headhunting lesson you gave me when I was in charge of hunting executives at my internship. Hope your work is still awesome.

Dear Swedish Girls Who Hung Out With Me Despite Me Being Weird and Awkward: Hooya! I’m really sorry we started hanging out so late in the semester, but I’ve learned, that Swedes like to be approached like deer. Quietly, gently, and in a group. I loved hanging out with you girls and going to that TempleStay. Hope we meet in Sweden soon (I know I’ve been saying that for two years now but now that I actually got a Savings account with money in it it’s truer than ever).

Dear Korean Guy Who Wants to Flog a Dead Horse: Erm, sometimes relationships don’t work out. Then you let them wither and die, and you never, ever, try to revive it. You get on with your separate lives, capiche? It’s weird for you to text me six months later and say “Hey, I’m sorry it took me this long to reply you – I went to Japan”. Did you die in Japan and get revived through Shinto rituals? Did you go to an uninhabited island in Okinawa where there’s no e-mail, no Facebook or telephone connection? Not cool, man. Also, I FUCKING WENT TO WATCH TWILIGHT THE MOVIE WITH YOU ON OUR FIRST DATE BECAUSE YOU SAID YOU LOVED IT. AND AFTER THE MOVIE I PRETENDED TO HAVE HAD FUN BECAUSE YOU WERE GLITTERING WITH JOY. That was the singular most humiliating thing I’ve ever had to do to get a date.

Dear British Girl and My Roommate for One Month Who Is Also the Biggest Buttwipe Ever: You were looking for a roommate, so I let you live with me. And then you went to some camp and had sex with a guy in a BATHROOM. Apparently that was a great experience for you and you’re two consenting adults, so I’m happy for ya. But the next day you said “Hey, here’s my boyfriend. we’re moving in! Fuck your financial planning!”. And then you broke up and went back to London and started pretending you were here taking ‘photographs of the Beautiful Seoul’ for a semester. Yeah right, before that, you had a three-way at some other camp. Also in the bathroom. I hope you didn’t ditch your following roommates the same way, cause that ain’t cool.

To All the Lonely People Who Like to Rant and Obsess, Even If It’s Clear I’m Not Interested: You people need to start a blog. So people don’t start secretly wishing you catch an illness that will temporarily (or even permanently) damage your throat.

To the Mormon, Suit-Wearing, Pamphlet-Distributing People at Anam Crossing: I know you’re exercising your right to religious beliefs and you do a pretty good job at actually learning Korean and approaching people gently (as opposed to the door-kicking “Come to Jesus or Else” types) but, like, can you drop the suit in summer? It’s just not practical, man. Also, why do I never see women mormons evangelising?


Dear School Library: I’m sorry our relationship was so on-and-off, and for using you for the wrong books like :”Kobe cooking”, “Yoga for Beginners (with Pictures!)”, and “Sexuality in Chosun Society”. I also ordered books no-one would ever read in the near future, like “Swedish Mentality” (for when I had a crush on a Swedish exchange student and couldn’t figure out his passive-aggressive attitude), “Reading Comics”, and “Histoire de France pour les Nuls” (because I found it so amusing they translated ‘Dummies’ to ‘Nuls’ and wanted to see if it was in fact a real book title). I also use this opportunity to confess I was kind of hoping for library romance, and admit I have checked out the “dating advice” books, which are useless and should be shameful for the trees fell for their making, but whose pages are tattered and covered with various sub-notes and replies to those sub-notes which contain the wisdom of real women.

Dear School Reading Rooms (in particular to the one underground): I hereby confess that I have once mis-plugged my earphones and played “Troublemaker” from YouTube. On the second hand, I packed, left and didn’t come back for the following half year, so we’re sort of even.

Dear Bus #273: Without you my college life would be incomplete. Thanks for hauling me and my drunk friends from Hongdae to Anam at 5:00 in the morning. And I’m sorry that Swedish guy kind of vandalised your window.

Dear Kindle: You are cheap, fast and available anytime. Wait, that sounds wrong.

Dear Naver: Without you we are all a bunch of idiots. Also: Thanks for annihilating the need to ask stupid questions such as “I know that’s right from YOUR side, but isn’t East the right side from MY house?”, “How the hell do I log onto this [micro-site on university homepage that’s somehow a detached page] site?”, and “Is the name of this famous person spelled with a single R or double R?”.

Dear Blogs I Run: Thanks for taking my ranting. Also, it’s pretty cool I have all those viewers.


Dear People Who Come Up With Strange Excuses for Group Presentation Meetings:
1. Missing a Sunday meeting due to “I went to church. Are you denying me my freedom of religion?” is not a valid excuse, especially when delivered through your girl/boyfriend who’s also in the team.
2. Making a shitty PPT file and then lashing out on team members because we “changed your authentic slides” is something you really should not do, especially when you flew out to the Philippines over the weekend and we couldn’t reach you because of your slides where you put the entire 2012 US Govt. Budget in raw numbers, not a pie chart. Ain’t nobody in for a Death By PowerPoint.
3. “Oh I’m so sorry, I was meeting friends to prepare for this job interview I have in one month” is not a valid excuse because (a) TODAY WAS NOT YOUR INTERVIEW DAY; (b) NO-ONE MEETS THEIR FRIENDS TO PREPARE FOR A REAL JOB INTERVIEW.
4. Saying “I’m so sorry. I’m sick” and then running into us with your girlfriend on campus is just bad lying. People like you make exchange students look bad.
5. Not turning up to meetings but turning up to all the club parties in Seoul and posting your pictures on Facebook? Did you forget our group has a ‘Facebook Group’? Too much vodka in your blood, matey?

Dear Exchange Students Who Seem To Think They Can Get Me To Work For Them Without Paying Me Because We’re “Friends Through Friends”: First of all, I’m not your friend. We just started to get to know each other. Just because your friend is also Swedish and she’s a friend of mine and I help her get around town sometime and talk to her about Korea doesn’t immediately confer you the rights to be my “friend” and to try to use me.
You’re not allowed to suddenly come up to me and say “This thing about Korea. Tell me all about it. Because You’re The Korean Here.” You’re not allowed to message me on Facebook and say “Hey, I want Brazilian waxing in Korea. Can you translate this site?”, what the f*ck. You’re also not allowed to tell my Swedish friend that I’m racist because you’re from Palestine. Did I tell you I won’t help you because you’re from Ramallah? No, I’m not helping you because you are f*cking rude.
Also, I get paid for interpreting and translating. Come and consult me for my fees.

Dear Korean Students Who Think I’m a Free Translational Service: You’re not allowed to bring 30-page lawsuit documents for our project and say “Hey, you speak English, you should translate this for us”, when reading your own research material is your fucking job, even if it’s in English.

Dear Crazy Christians Who Followed Me To My House: What you did was illegal. You’re not allowed to follow me from campus to my flat while constantly rapping “Do you go to church?” “Do you?” “Do you know Jesus died for you?”, especially when it’s clear I don’t give a f*ck. And you’re also not allowed to turn up at my flat the next day, and after I’ve slammed the door in your face, start screaming “But sister, otherwise you will burn in hell! We can save you!”

Dear Next-door Neighbour The Single Mom: Your daughter sings even though she really can’t at one in the morning. Your dog barks at three in the morning and won’t shut up. You have men turning up at your door at 4 in the morning, drunk and yelling “I just want to come in for a cup of coffee!”. You have two daughters living with you for f*ck’s sake, and just because they’re out of town doesn’t mean you, the mom, should behave like a teenager. Your daughter is gone and you’re free to do what you like in your life but not when your neighbours can hear your guest yell their horny asses off in the morning. If they’re threatening you, you should call the police or ask your neighbours to help you. But not leave them outside to wake up the entire building.

Dear Male Associate from Firm I Interned At: Hey manbitchasshole. How’s life being the most self-centered, mean bastard in the whole world? Remember when we had the new intern? It was her first job and she was slow using Excel because she had no idea how to, and because you didn’t specify the qualifications needed for the position? Remember when you lashed out on her and said “How can you be studying at an Ivy League college and writing your graduation thesis? Did you even attend university at all?”, and she went to the bathroom and came back 30 minutes later, her eyes red from crying? And what did you say then? “Oh, Rachel, are you feeling ill? Maybe you should go home”, with a straight face, and then she did go home, and never picked up the phone again and I had to handle her payment papers? Well, motherf*cker, she took Excel courses in the evenings, after you sent her home at 1AM every day. She was trying for f*ck’s sake. I hope you’re still miserable you didn’t get to Goldmann Sachs and had to settle for less, and that your hot model girlfriend f*cks you over after she spends all your cash buying Chanel bags and a fake tan. And whatever else she likes. Cause she sure ain’t getting anything else from you.

Dear Racist/Sexist/Fascist Friend: I know we used to be theatre/drinking buddies, but man you have some issues. Like the time you said “Man those Turks/Swedes/Americans/Japs/Chinks are inferior”, or said “Mixed kids will never be Korean” (when you clearly know I have half-Japanese brothers), or when you said “Women just aren’t as smart as men”. Or, maybe the time you said “Faggots don’t exist in Korea, it’s an American invention”. I’m glad we will never meet again. I hope you never become a diplomat like you’ve always wanted, because God, then we’d be just as bashed as the Pyongyang Kims by the press on any good day.

Dear ManWhore: You know who you are. We know who you are. You dated my friend for three years, then slept with some slutty freshman girl, and then introduced that girl as ‘a friend’ to her. And then you went and told all those freshmen that you were a straight A student, who’s a genius at computer programming, and then got one of them to date you, while sleeping with some thirty-year old woman. What the f*ck? You had all Fs the first three terms and we all know it. I hope you catch syphilis in the near future (or whatever is worse than that).

Dear American Expat Students Who Are Dealing Drugs in Seoul: You should both get deported for spending your parents’ money here on first buying drugs and getting drunk, then using that money to import drugs and sell them to the other American exchange students. By the way, these ‘clients’ of yours have been blabbing about you, you should seriously watch your dealings.

This entry was posted in: Personal
Tagged with:


Internationally lost since 2000, Emily was born in Seoul, raised in India, and has been living and studying in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands since 2014. A translator and interpreter by profession, she enjoys talking and debating just about anything.

Tell me what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.