Today was a big day in my journey to get to Korea! I received my form from the immigration office to take to the Korean Consulate here in the U.S. and that is the final step in the visa application process. But that is not the biggest news of the day at all.
The news of the day is that the manager of my school has set my entry date as February 13th and that my ticket has been booked! The cost of a one way ticket was a little under $800 and while that is a bit more expensive than normal it is still a good price. I will be arriving in the middle of the Winter Olympics so that is partially way it could have been more expensive but I know nothing of ticket prices and my school covers up to $900 of a plane ticket so mine was well under that.
Through the ups and downs I have been waiting for a moment like this that is like a chorus ringing through my head singing “Alleluia! Alleluia! Al-le-luia!” and I couldn’t help but chuckle happily to myself!
Next week’s post will be about my week long trip split between Paris, London, and Bristol! See you then!
Getting all of your documents in on time in order to apply for a visa can be a headache but once everything is in Korea the next step is to just wait. I hate waiting, but hey its a lesson in patience… Anyway, this past week I was able to get all of my documents in and have the manager at my school set a meeting with the immigration office in Daejeon. Once that meeting is set, the manager will go and deliver my documents in person. Simply enough, and once immigration has everything I have to wait 2~3 weeks before I hear about the status of the application. From there it will be another 5~7 business days before I receive the necessary paperwork.
Now some of the things that I want to expand upon are timelines. 2 of the things that take the longest are the apostilled FBI background check and the apostilled degree/letter of expected graduation. That is because in order to get the background check through “normal” channels it takes about 2~3 months to receive a result, send it to be apostilled, and receive it back. Which if you’re in a time crunch like I was, this is not feasible and was one of the reasons I went through a recruiter like Korvia. For me it took about 2 weeks total because Korvia partners with a FBI-approved channeler and I got my results in about 4 days for $50. Another Korvia partner, Monument Visa Service, helps by expediting the apostille process and from the time I faxed my information to the time I had it back in hand was about 8 days later for $50 as well. I recommend services like this as you receive documents sooner and the sooner you get things the easier it is to get everything in within the 4 week deadline.
Now the Degree/Letter of Expected Graduation is a different story as this is something that is taken care of by the State Department in the state you live in/graduated in. Indiana does not charge for the Apostille (Go Indiana!) and you can walk in and have your stuff done in a matter of 2 days. Unfortunately, I mailed mine in and had to wait about a week and half before I asked my dad to walk in with a copy and get it done for me (turns out the person in charge of apostilling documents had been on vacation so maybe thats why and my recruiter was not thrilled but hey whats a girl to do!). Go Dad!
Deadlines are very important when trying to get a work visa in any country so remember to start early that way you are not surprised if things take longer than normal to be completed. Also, make sure you read up on the type of visa you should be receiving so that you can have an idea of what will be required of you! Once you have checked off the box, kick back and enjoy the wait (or in my case try to get all my stuff for graduation on order)!
I realized that while I said what type of visa I was trying to get, I never explained what type of visa it was. There are many different visa type in Korea and the particular one I will be applying for is an E category visa. There are A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, M, and T visa types and each group has sub categories that fit with a specific description of what the applicant can do while on a particular visa. As I am going to Korea as a native English Teacher I will be applying for an E2 visa or a visa for a “Foreign language instructor who plan on teaching conversational language” (Wikipedia). Now under this visa I am not allowed to teach grammar or literature, only conversation.
This is an important distinction as doing more than you are authorized to do can cause you to be deported or issued a 30 days notice to leave the country. This is a current “problem” for some English Teachers in Korea right now as these teachers are finding out that they have been doing things not allowed in the visa description and their school cut corners (sometimes knowingly). While, it is in no way the fault of the teacher as they english contract doesn’t always have the exact translation and therefore all these teachers are seeing is “foreign language instructor”, it still is still illegal.
Now if you are going through a government program such as EPIK, GEPIK, or SMOE this is not something you will have a problem with (after all the government also issues visas). If you are going to work for a private institution you need to ask questions such as “What will my jobs be?” “What type of visa did you plan on giving me?” and then do your own research so you know what you can and cannot do. If you have time you can also search youtube to learn more about these types of things.
Hopefully, this will help all of you as you start along the visa process!
There are so many things that go into preparing to live in another country and while some things are easy, others are mini nightmares, like in a holy crap I jumped off the deep end and forgot I couldn’t swim kind of a way.
When you accept a job to teach in Korea you will find that there are many steps in applying for an E2 visa and if you are like me and have yet to graduate this process can get a whole lot more complicated. Thankfully, going through Korvia means that I don’t have to duke it out with the immigration office in Daejeon over the wording of my documents but it is certainly disheartening to be hitting such a hefty roadblock so soon. I have submitting my background check (notarized and apostilled), 2 letters of recommendation, sealed transcript, 3 copied of the signed contract with my school, TESOL certificate, my resume, a copy of my passport, and passport quality photos. All good and then the catch… Korea needs an apostilled version of your diploma or in place of it an apostilled Letter of Expected Graduation. As I will not receive my diploma until the end of December I opted for the graduation letter, only to find out (and though my advisor had copied the language of the example letter) that my letter would not be accepted until my semester finished in December. It is frustrating and costly but I have hope that it will all work out in the end.
Not the end of the world as it only takes 3 weeks from submission to turn around in the visa process but the question remains on if the school I signed a contract with will waited the couple months until I have officially ended college. I want to be a transparent source of information as I had not heard of people having a problem like this. Therefore, as I find out more information about what will happen to my job, I will detail it here so that if other people have to go through this they can see how things were handled through me as an example.
I have neglected to post in awhile as life caught up to me and proceeded to whack me into shape. Alas, I have gotten it together (as one can try anyway) and am back to update/discuss my journey to Korea. A lot has happened in the 2 months since I decided that teaching in South Korea had to become a reality rather than a dream.
Roughly a month ago I received an email from a lovely lady named Jessie, a consultant at Korvia, about a position that she thought would be a good fit for me. I was impressed by the fact that although she was not “my” consultant she had looked through other consultants’ teacher profiles to fit what the school was looking for. Long story short, I got an interview with the school and on the day of my Skype interview Jessie was there to help me along. I was able to Skype with her beforehand to check the audio and video feedback and to ask any questions about the interview. Once that was done the real interview started and went fabulously! One week after the interview, I heard back from Jessie and was thrilled to be offered a job in Daejeon, South Korea for an affiliate of the International school in the area. Now I had known that if I was offered a job I would sign the contract in no time at all but I also knew that I would need a bit of time to process the fact that, assuming everything went as planned I would starting a new life in 5 months and that thought was, in all honesty, a bit scary.
I am a worry-wart by nature and as fun loving as I can be, I can get tripped up along the way. Once I accepted the job I, like many others, thought it would be smooth sailing from here on out but if you have lived in another country before you know that the visa process can bring you back to reality VERY quick. In an effort to keep this from trailing on I will talk more about the visa process in tomorrow’s post!
Anecdote: Being a student in the last semester of University can be daunting as you try to navigate the world and secure a job for the future. However, over the years (and other jobs in-between) I have learned that being true to who you are as person makes you shine in interviews and that humility in admitting to the things you don’t know shows that as a human you have flaws but you can overcome them as you grow! So pep-talk aside hah You Can Do It!
After dealing with a family matter over the past weeks I found myself back here and wondering where to start again. Loss makes us stronger as we move forward with our lives but it also makes us evaluate the way we have lived our lives up to the present moment. Deep stuff, I know, but I have found my path to be even more enforced. Whether you want to teach abroad or you already live abroad away from family, you have to take on a different mindset as if a family emergency happens you may not be able to drop everything and go in a instant (if you can, you are a very lucky individual). You also come to realize that even worlds apart the love from family is the strongest pillar to support you.
Sometimes its easy to get caught up in your dreams and you fail to take into account the reality/entirety that every part of that dream entails. And while people have said to me that dreams are blinders to living a full life, I disagree. Dreams are ways in which we find the things we love and they should grow as we do. Dreams don’t always come true and they are not always what we envision but they are rays of hope when we struggle, when we fall, and the lights that keep guiding us to the peak after the long metaphorically climb.
My initial dream was to teach English as a second language and I wasn’t picky as to where I would teach (this was Grade 9 mind you). In Grade 11, my growing love for Korean music and culture made my dream grow to perhaps teaching in Korea. My dream grew as my likes grew and I grew. So to all those dreamers out there, dream with full hearts and starlit eyes as the future is only limited by you. You are the ones who are the masters of your own fate and as long as you are true to yourself, you’ll find the lights even in the darkest of places. [That was a little Dead Poets Society/Harry Potter mash-up for you all :)]
So Dream On~
Until next time!
Many people start the teaching process on their own and while I commend you, I also think that going through a recuiter can save you time and a future headache. The recruiter I am going to talk about is Korvia, and as they are the only one I have contact with, they are the only recruiter I can give accurate information on. That being said there are more than one channel/recruiter to go through and I would advise you research which one is the best fit for you.
Korvia Consulting is a recruiting company based in Seoul, South Korea that helps to place native English speakers into both private and public school as an ESL teachers. Korvia has connections to EPIK, GEPIK, and SMOE and as such you get the chance to decide which one to apply for. One of the big reasons I picked Korvia was the fact that they have access to both private AND public schools, they help with the Visa process when you are matched with a school, and will get you from the airport when you arrive.
Now onto the specifics~ the time from when I applied to when I was contacted by a recruiter was about a day and a half. Which is a very fast turn-around time if I might add! Anyway, from there I scheduled a skype interview for a couple days later. I had my interview with a recruiter named Victoria Bae and although the alloted time for the interview was 30 minutes, we talked for about an hour.
Before I went into the interview I googled what types of questions would be asked and what it was like. Overall the reviews were across the board, with some people saying it seemed unprofessional and there were other voices in the background, etc. Yes, I could here voices in the background but it never took away from the conversation and it didn’t bug me in any way. Victoria went over my resume and asked my clarifying question on things she wanted to understand better, if I was healthy enough to work in another country (Korea wants drug-free, healthy teachers in their schools), and why I wanted to go to Korea. This interview was more or less a talk about myself and why I thought I should be a teacher. It was a straight-forward interview and from there I got the green light to continue on.
The continuation consisted of obtaining 1~2 letters of recommendation, creating an introductory video (will be discussed in a following post), and making sure I had the right timing to get my FBI background check done and sent in.
Stay tuned for Friday’s post about creating an introductory video!
So you want to teach in Korea? Well there are several things to take into considerations~
One of the most important things to understand is that if your major is not an approved one, such as Linguistics, you will need to obtain a TESOL/TEFL certificate in order to teach. You can get such a certificate through the American TESOL institute, as I did for mine, or other approved one in your country. Secondly, you will need to hold citizenship in a country where English is an official langauge or primary langauge and you can find more information about this on South Korea’s education website (http://english.moe.go.kr/main.do?s=english).
Once you’ve taken care of that you’ll need to think private versus public schools. The pay is different, the hours are different, the amount of vacation is different and so on. The pay is usually a higher starting salary in the private schools, called Hagwons, and this type of school is more along the lines of a cram school that students attend after their normal school hours. That being said the hours can be later in the day, lets say maybe from 14:00-22:00, and you will be teaching a variety of levels. These private schools also have less vacation time and from what my recruiter said vacation time is usually assigned by the owner of the school. Very different right? Also important to note is that private schools DO NOT recieve government funding, so in the event that the business fails you may find yourself without a job.
The similarities are that both provide housing, reimbursement for flights and usually 50% of medical. I personally will be looking to the private schools as the recruiter that I went through felt that will the little experience I had teaching I would be most qualified for a Hagwon. I would recommend that anyone who wishes to teach go through a company like KorVia (http://www.korvia.com/) because it makes the process less confusing and you have someone who can help match you to a school, private or public, help you with the required paperwork and the visa process. Plus a lot of these companies will pick you up from the airport and help you get to your place!
If you have more questions feel free to comment!
Picture from http://thenews-chronicle.com/south-korea-turns-off-propaganda-after-north-expresses-regret-for-mine-attack/
Having titled my first post “The Leap”, I found myself stuck in the awkward and scary phase after that metaphorical jump. I have no idea where these next 5 months of preparation will take me as I transition from a college student to a full time working adult and being new to blogging, closer to word vomit on a page if you ask me, I find the prospect daunting. Very daunting. 5 months may seem too early to start writing about this material but I thinks its a good way of getting my thoughts out and to document things (the process) as it happens.
To begin I have always known that I wanted to teach English abroad and throughout my time in University I have researched the steps to get to the final destination. To start I decided early on that with its rich culture, beautiful language and history South Korea was the place for me. There are several different government programs to go through to teach English and I will go into more detail on those in a subsequent post. That being said, the two main tracts are public school and private institutions called Hagwons (more like cram schools) in which an English teacher can be placed. Based on my experience (English Major, 2 TESOL certificates, no teaching experience), the company I went through, KorVia, thought that I would be most comfortable and more qualified for a position at a Hagwon (학원).
With that crucial interview decided there are 5 things remaining for me to do. Create an introductory video, obtain a background check, obtain 3 letters of recommendation, get a medical evaluation and most importantly, graduate from College. Oh and then once that is all done I need to find a place at one of the schools.
So much to do but thankfully I have time. Next time I’ll go into more detail about getting a TESOL or TEFL certification, the company I went through, and the difference between public and private schools in South Korea.
When I was 15 years old I began to experiment with music in the hopes of growing into my own tastes and relinquishing that of my parents. Little did I know, I would begin a journey that would bring me to where I am today.
Prelude complete. I have always been in love with Korean culture from the moment I heard my first Kpop song and here I am 8 years later starting the process to teach in South Korea. Although nothing is set in stone and I have no idea if I will get a job, I have decided to take the metaphorical leap into the unknown and start this new chapter in my life. Only one catch, I need to graduate (Dec) first. Oh, and get matched with a school but who’s worrying!
Thus, this blog will be my brain child and a chronicle of the process that will unfold in the next 4-5 months. Enjoy!