Need advice, RE: Astrofiancee question...

Take a deep breath, this is gonna be long!

So Astrofiancee and I were eating dinner tonight at our favorite restaurant, and she hit me with a question I couldn’t answer (actually a series of Q’s, but we’ll get to that. I hate this, as I like being Mr. Know it all!

Background info. if you don’t know (skip this if you know who we are/where we are from prior posts):
we are in Korea
Astrofiancee is Korean
we will be moving to the US at some point to pursue a “normal” life

So, Astrofiancee is worried about what kind of job she can get in the US. She is VERY smart… much smarter than me (NO!!! the teaming masses moan, How can anyone be smarter than Astroboy?? Sadly, it is true!) She has a bachelor’s in statistics (of questionable value, coming from a Korean university… another topic, and I don’t want to get back into the “Korea sucks” thread of a day or so ago in the Pit), and has been working for the past 4 years or so as a secretary. She likes being a secretary, as she absolutely LOVES planning stuff for her boss (one of my pet names for her is “Planning Girl”), and having her nose in EVERYTHING that her company is doing; so she wants to pursue a career as, maybe, an Executive Assistant for a CEO of some company. We have previously discussed employment prospects for her in the US, from my little knowledge of the area… her pluses: she’s VERY good at math and planning. She’s a native speaker of Korean (a plus if she applies to some company that does bidness in Korea). She is a VERY hard worker. Her minuses: her degree (will it be accepted by a US company? will it be accepted by a US, Australian, New Zealand, or UK University?), and her English!

Now; her English is pretty good, much better than the average Korean speaker of English (she understands most western jokes I tell her, and that takes (think about it) not only a good command of the language, but also a very good understanding of western culture! She loves “dumb blonde” jokes; and most of those require extensive knowledge of western culture… most Koreans, even those very fluent in English, wouldn’t understand why “she goes home!” is a funny answer to “what does a blonde do first thing in the morning?”… the culture here is very different). But her pronunciation is bad, and she needs more work with vocab. and idiomatic expressions before her English is good enough to really hope to work for an American company…

I know what you’re thinking: “But Astroboy, you teach English! Correct her pronunciation and give her vocab. and idioms lessons!” Yeah, right! Our time together is VERY limited due to our hectic schedules, and when we DO see each other we have a choice: language lessons, or get naked and screw/snuggle… guess which one wins!:wink:

So: to enhance both her English skills, and to enhance her skills in the secretarial areas, she has decided that she needs to go back to school in an English-speaking country. I’m not 100% thrilled with this idea, as I can’t go with her (just started a new business with a friend, and I’ve gotta see it through for a couple of years to either get rich or go bankrupt… “A promise made is a debt unpaid”); but I think she IS right about this…

Thus, her questions tonight: Where should she go to school (Australia? New Zealand? US? Canada? UK? Keep in mind that money is a large factor here…)? What should she study (or major in) to pursue an executive secretary-type job? What else could she do in the US with her degree/qualifications? What about work/study programs in the aforementioned countries?

She asked me all of those questions, and I answered:
ME: Shit, honey… I dunno!
HER: Well, can you find out?
ME: I wouldn’t even know where to start!
HER: What about those “Stray Dorkers”?
ME: What?
HER: You know! Those people on the internet that you ask everything!
ME: (choking on a bite of kim-chi as I try not to laugh)Straight Dopers?!?
HER: Yeah! Maybe they know; will you ask them?

So, (whew… this may be my longest post to date! Appologies to those who read all of this and found it of no interest…) anyone have any input? Or, can point me in the right direction to begin research?

This is important to both Astrofiancee and me for obvious reasons.

Thanks for reading this far (even if you have no input)!

So; anyone? Help please!

This stray dorker suggests coming to Southern California. Los Angeles has a large Korean community, lots of Korean businesses, great colleges and a pretty good community college district. She should do very well.

Gosh, Astroboy, that’s a toughie. As far as the cost of education, she’s be better off in Canada, which has the most favorable exchange rate with the won of all the English-speaking countries’ currency. It will be the most affordable place for her parents to send her, and degrees from Canada are also respected here in the US, something not true of a Korean degree. In addition, Canadian visas are a hell of a lot easier for Koreans to get than US study visas, at least from the anecdotal evidence I have from my adult students who had children studying in Canadian universities.

The most important element for improving her English, as you know, isn’t so much formal study as living 24/7 in a full immersion English-only environment.

If Astrofiancee wants to pursue an executive secretary position, she should take as many business and computer courses as she can, in addition to conversational English classes. Has she taken the TOEFL yet? She’s going to need that for her university applications.

Anyway, best of luck to you both, and sam-il jol chukhahamnida!

Stray Dorkers? Why, I oughta… :wink:

If she wants to learn English, the UK might be an idea. But London would be insanely expensive. The US, while being a second choice in terms of the language skills she’ll develop (;)), might have more opportunities to attend an education in her field (I have no idea what that would be), AND keep things affordable at the same time.

OZ is an expensive country as well, from what I hear.

For a relatively cheap country that speaks English, how about Ireland? Canada, perhaps?

[sub]The Netherlands?[/sub]

Ah, Spooje we want to improve her English, remember? I have had Korean friends who spent a year or so in LA and had their English deteriorate! Due to hanging out with only Korean friends, and speaking only Korean…

Yeah, goboy, she needs to be in an English only environment for a year or more… she’d be near native speaker quickly (her English is THAT good, no thanks to me…). I think she’d have no problem getting a visa to study in the US (she has a 10 year visa already, due to her employment… but I believe it’s only a tourist-type visa… I plead ignorance here…)… but would the US be best? Or another country?

As far as courses go: she’s very proficient in computers… I’m not sure if she approaches IT proficiency; nor do I think that is necessary in an executive-secretary position… Business classes, however, are a different story! Should she seek a business degree? An MBA (seems like a bit much to me…)?

She hasn’t taken the TOEFL test, yet… but I’m positive that her score would be in the 800+ range (average for Koreans is, maybe, 600 for good English speakers), from a perfect score of, I think, 990… (keep in mind that she hangs out with me and my mostly English speaking friends, and I rarely have to explain what we’re talking about to her…).

Coldy, Ireland! I hadn’t thought of that! Thanks for the suggestion! But, The Netherlands? Do you folks speak English as a primary lingo there (forgive my ignorance, please)? As much as I’d LOVE to visit Astrofiancee in Amsterdam (I will get there eventually, dammit! My life’s dream is to order pot, legally, in a cafe!), I want her English to improve more than I want to get high (which is saying a LOT!).


Just my two cents. It would be advantageous for her to study in a country where not only is she immersed in english 24/7, but also a country where a british accent (or irish, or even ausie). Nothing causes me to check my assumptions at the door than when a person speaks to me with an accent that’s very different from an accent I expect them to have.

For some reason this causes me to presume they are even more intelligent than I otherwise assume.

YMMV, but that’s what came to mind when I read your list of options.


Former executive secretary here.

In my opinion, the term “executive secretary” is pretty worthless. In today’s job market, they’ve overhyped the words “executive assistant” “administrative assistant” so much that they can mean anywhere from “Right Arm to the CEO” to “Receptionist with a Title”. Her interests and skills sound like mine, but I have no degree. A secretary (except at some large company in a large town) will typically not make very much (under $30k generally) and getting into a position where she will be challenged and actually be able to do everything she’s capable of will be hard coming in off the street.

Just some info to consider. She might be better off getting a business degree on top of her Stats degree and then using that to get into some place.

AstroBoy: I was kidding about the Netherlands. We speak Dutch, although it’s fair to say over 75% of the population has a more than adequate command of English. Don’t send her here man, us Dutch blokes love Korean chicks! :wink:

Yeah, BunnyGirl, and this is what I have been trying to tell Astrofiancee for months now…
I think that she wants to be something like “executive right arm”… but what does she study to get there?

We Los Angelinos speak some english here.
How’s her spanish?:smiley:

Yeah, Spooje, I know… but where to send Astrofiancee? (she does speak some Spanish! Her major in high school…)

I’m going to keep her away fron The Netherlands, though… I don’t entirely trust Coldy

She’s MINE, dammit!
Anyways, I’m off to bed… would someone bump this is 2 or 3 hours so it doesn’t fall off the boards? I’d appreciate ot…

I’m WAY tired…

That should read: "would someone bump this IN 2 or 3 hours so it doesn’t fall off the boards? I’d appreciate IT…

Did you read my post? I said Canada would be the best option, since it’s an English-speaking country with a more favorable exchange rate, making it easier for her parents to defray expenses, plus there are fewer immigration hoops to jump through.

And, yes, she does need computer classes if she wants to get an executive assistant job. She needs to know how to use modern business software and how to create databases, tables, proposals, reports, how to import and export data, and so forth. she doesn’t need IT-level proficiency, but she needs to know how to put an Excel worksheet into a Powerpoint presentation.

Astro- Stray Dorks? I wanna meet this lady!

I was thinkin- why not anywhere in the usa? Wouldn’t it be less of a hassle (I guess I mean if you guys were married), and if the marriage thing is the case, then if she came and established residency, wouldn’t she get cheaper tuition?
Plus, you guys are most likely gonna move here anyway…
I kinda agree about the unexpected accent though.

But picture this: Astrofiancee with a nice southern accent?
move over boy…


Ireland can be both Cheap and expensive also. The link above caters for English courses and AuPair placement.

hope it helps.
Just a thought. As you plan to move to America after you get married, why not wait until you move over, let her go to school and improve her language for a year before she goes for a “career” job.

Astro, if she wants to do the “right arm” thing, getting her degree in Business, Communications or that sort of thing will help.

Here’s some programs she should learn and some stuff to pursue:

[li]Pretty much all of the Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint).[/li][li]Knowing some Access wouldn’t hurt either.[/li][li]Have her get her typing speed up, 60-75 wpm is good.[/li][li]Knowing basic computer “how-to” stuff is good. By this, I mean, how to install new software, how to add a printer to a pc, basic troubleshooting, etc. I add this because of all the CEOs I’ve met and worked with, most were NOT computer savvy and having an assistant that can handle the basics for them is very important. These are guys and gals that know how to use a computer, but when something goes wrong, they don’t know where to start to fix it. Most have never defragged their own hard drive.[/li]
Is there the possibility for her to start working with an American company with an office in Korea? Maybe transfers to the States would be an option in that case later, while getting her foot in the door.

Feel free to email me if you’ve got other questions on the whole “executive assistant” thing and I’ll help where I can.

Might I suggest she contact some of the Korean companies that do business in the US? I work in shipping, and there are several companies with a large presence on the west coast. They might even pay for any additional schooling she needs or wants.

One more suggestion…

There’s a something of a korean presence in the Northern Virginia/Fairfax County area. (Yeah, I know, immersion is an issue, but I don’t think that’s a problem in the DC 'burbs…) In addition, this area has grown with high-tech and multinational companies by leaps and bounds over the last decade (think Silicon Valley east). And there are already thousands of companies and associations with HQ’s in and around the beltway…also dozens of choices for excellent universities…

Downsides…it’s an expensive area to live in…and I don’t know how recent economic downturns have affected the local economies…(used to live there about 7 years ago.)

My 2 cents, hope it helps!


Hey, make her a Doper! Maybe grammar isn’t our strong point, but she should pick up on idiomatic expressions, we have plenty of idiots here!