Application Process

Graduation to me meant a whole lot of uncertainty. Job interview after job interview led to many dead ends.  So did a very fun, 5 month long marketing internship at a sports company. After talking to many friends, I decided that teaching English abroad was a good job option as well as a great opportunity. To me, traveling has always been a way to open yourself up to the world and experience different cultures you wouldn't have otherwise. And as all of you fellow travelers out there know... once you experience traveling for the first time, the traveling bug bites hard.

So, I took a month long TEFL course at SDSU through their extended studies program at the American Language Institute. Each day consisted of 3 hour classes and 2 hours of being a teaching assistant in ESL classrooms, plus a total of 10 hours of grammar class.

After that was over, I did a lot of research in order to decide where to go. My original plans included going to a tropical location like Thailand or a place with Spanish as their native language like South America. As I looked into it more, South Korea's teaching benefits couldn't beat those of other countries. They pay for your roundtrip airfare, rent, 50% of medical insurance, get your taxes back at the end of your contract, severance package after the contract is completed, and a pretty decent salary. They are hungry for native English speaking teachers. Sign me up. Plenty of money to live on, to travel with, and to come home with. Plus, South Korea is gorgeous and nothing what the uneducated mind may think. South Korea is NOT the same as North Korea as some may believe... nor is it anywhere close.

EPIK (English Program in Korea) hires for all of the public schools in South Korea. There is one teacher per public school and this teacher gets a Korean co-teacher to work with.

I kid you not... it is the longest application process EVER. I had been dragged along in the mud for about three months with zero solid plans. Here is the timeline so far:

April 5-30: TEFL classes at SDSU
June 17: Decided on S. Korea and first heard from my recruiter
June 23: 7 page EPIK and 3 page SMOE applications submitted
June 28: Application accepted and interview time set for June 6th (and asked to be reschedule due to vacation); went to get LiveScan done for Criminal Record Check
July 2: Received Criminal Record Check in the mail
July4-11: Vacation in Mexico (no internet or phone=no interview!)
July 7: Notification of new interview time
July 12: Phone interview with EPIK
July 13: Trip to LA to get Criminal Record Check and Diploma notarized (15 mins and $30), signed by the county clerk (15 mins and $18) and apostilled (2 hours and $45)
July 19: Received email that the phone interview was successful
July 22: Documents FedEx'ed to Thailand ($85 later. Seriously??)
July 27: Documents arrive to my recruiter
July 28: FINALLY received my new TEFL certificate with the hours on it (After waiting for job placement guy from SDSU to respond to my emails for over two and a half weeks... I eventually took things into my own hands and called my instructor. Fyi: tell someone who is waiting on important/time sensitive documents if you are going on vacation)
August 4: Got word that I may not be starting until Sept or Oct because my documents were late (Seoul orientation is Aug 17). Waiting on contract/notice of appointment so I can get a visa.
August 10: Got an email that there was a placement for me in Seoul and I should be ready to go by Aug 25. More waiting for contract/notice of appointment so I could get a visa.
August 31: Received an email from my recruiter saying "I spoke to EPIK this morning and they said that EPIK Seoul rejected your application. I am so sorry about this. I have no idea why as they are not allowed to tell us." SO upset
September 1: Received both a phone call from EPIK and an email from my recruiter saying there was an immediate position open for me in Daegu
September 9: Got word that EPIK sent me my NOA
September 10: NOA arrived
September 14: Brought my visa paperwork to the Korean Consulate in Los Angeles.
September 15: Visa ready! Recruiter asked if I could be fly out on the 16th (tomorrow??NO!?!) Flights booked for that Saturday & Sunday.
September 18: Fly to Seoul

Always seems like Korean time is either uncertain or happening all at once...