Category Archives: Teaching in Korea

Cleaning House

As the time comes nearer to pack up and leave, there’s a lot of stuff to consider.  Literally, stuff.  With the exception of what we’re taking with us and the wedding gifts (which our parents have kindly offered to store while we’re abroad), there’s a whole lot of crap to throw away.  Most of the good stuff is claimed already– the flatscreen tv, the leather couch, the kitchen table.  Then there’s the things we’ll try to pawn off on Craigslist– shelves, desks, semi-valuable kitchen appliances and video games.

But what do you do with all the things that are only valuable to you?  All of the toys and comics and unfinished art projects.  There’s a lot of art projects.  It’s nothing I could sell, or will even want to display in my own home, so why have I hung onto it for so long?  A part of me feels like it’s there to prove that I am actually an artist.  But it’s time to face the truth; I haven’t created anything real in over a year.

It’s time to move on and I’m feeling really relieved to finally have the excuse to throw it all away and start over.  A clean slate.

Teaching in Korea: the paperwork

We’re still waiting on the final documents to go through and to apply for our visa, but everything’s out of my hands at this point for teaching in Seoul.  As most of our friends and family already know, we are leaving next spring to teach English in South Korea.  I’m hesitant to post any details here, but I’ll try to keep posting as the process moves along.  So far it’s been pretty smooth:

1) I posted an ad on Dave’s ESL looking for a job.  I got a ton of replies, but most of them were irrelevant to what I wanted or needed more information.  I corresponded with a handful of recruiters and within a week already had a few interviews.  Maybe we just got lucky, but it seems like we found a good school in the location we wanted with relative ease!  (It’s a private kindergarten which most people shy away from, but it seems like a good and honest school and I don’t mind teaching kindergarten for a year.  It may be the bottom of the barrel for most teaching positions… but it’s great for me who has no formal education in teaching.)

2) The recruiter seemed a little sketchy to be honest, and I could find no information about her online.  But we interviewed directly with the school which went well.  Because of that we were able to search for information about the school itself, talk to teachers currently there, and scope out the school’s reputation.  A (Korean professor) friend of ours even called the school and must have said something magical because they sent us contracts right away.

3) The longest and most difficult process is getting all of the paperwork required by the Korean government.  You are now required to submit apostilled copies of your university diploma as well as a FBI background check.  It sounds serious but it was mostly just annoying and expensive.  This is how it worked for someone living in North Carolina:

  • Apostilled diploma – Make a reduced-size copy of your original transcript, fax it to the school, and request that they mail it back to you notarized. This was free.  Once you have the notarized copy you can take it in person to the Department of the Secretary of State before 10am, pay $10 dollars and you can pick it up at the end of the day.  Luckily there’s not much wait on that.
  • Sealed university transcript – Just order it from the university, it is only $7 for UNC.
  • Apostilled FBI background check – This was the most annoying.  Call your local police department and ask if they have a fingerprint technician.  It costs $15 and they give you an official fingerprint card, and take your fingerprints digitally (at least in Carrboro).  This is safer than doing it yourself from what I hear because you’re guaranteed to have good prints.  You then mail the fingerprint card, along with the correct forms and $18 dollars.  It can take up to 12 weeks which is why it’s important to have good prints the first time.  Lucky for me I only had to wait 5 weeks!  So hopefully things won’t be left until the last minute.  When it FINALLY comes back, you must have it notarized, and pay $10 at the Department of the Secretary of State again.
  • Passport – I had to get my name changed on my passport before all of this process went down or things might get complicated.  It costs $110 just to change my name, even though I already had a passport!  Not to mention extra fees if you want to have it expedited.  Mine came back a few weeks ago so it’ll be no problem when it comes time to apply for the visa.

That’s a total of $180 so far.  There’s other documents to gather, but it’s all stuff you can do from home.  After all of that don’t forget shipping expenses– that’s at least $22!

4) We have submitted all of our documents and are now waiting for the school to apply for our visa number to the Korean government.  They will send us the number and we will interview in person at the Korean consulate to apply for our visa.  Good times!  After all of that is done the school will purchase our plane tickets for us and I can finally know when the big day is.  Whew.