Sunday, February 7, 2010

Preparation and Visa Application

Imagine an amazing adventure, leaving the city that you grew up in to teach in a country that does not speak English. It sounds like a dream doesn't it? That is the dream that I get to experience for the next year. I am teaching English in Korea!

Ok, so I haven't left yet, but I'm so excited about this trip! I wanted to layout some background information. I know some people are wondering why Korea?

So here it is, I graduated in July of 2010 from Kennesaw State University. My good friend, Amanda, told me that she wanted to TESOL in another country. She did some research and discovered that Korea was the highest paying country for TESOL, and you don't have to have a teaching degree or certificate...all you need is a four year degree from an accredited university. Since graduating, I have been checking the online job board at KSU's Career Services. It showed a listing for Korjob Recruiting, a company that recruits teachers to teach in Korea. A reputable recruiting agency such as Korjob is the best way to find a job especially in Korea. Korea is very competitive for foreign teaching schools. Therefore, some schools hire teachers and are forced to close their doors before they are able to pay the teachers a salary. This leaves the teachers unemployed in a foreign country with no way home. So in the first week of January, I sent my resume to Korjob who called me that week requesting an over-the-phone interview. That same week, they sent me information about a private school in Daejeon. I researched the school and the city. I loved the fact that it is the fourth largest city in Korea because its not the largest and its not the smallest. It's also the center of technology which is nice because let's face it, who doesn't love technology? I would have preferred a more southern location because I love warmer weather, but Daejeon is in the middle of everything, so it works! I am an 1.5 hours from the best beach in South Korea in Busan, and I am 1 hour from Seoul, the largest city in South Korea. My recruiter, David, told me that this is one of the best schools to start at because the Director is very laid back. It is a private franchised school. So I told him to set up an interview. After speaking with a representative at the school, I was offered a position a week after submitting my resume to Korjob! The contract included a fully furnished apartment, a nice monthly salary, 401k, medical insurance, and roundtrip airfare. David, my recruiter, informed me that we needed to get things in order quickly because the school would like me to arrive mid-February. If you have ever applied for a visa, you know it can be a rather lengthy process. If you have not had the pleasure of applying for a visa, let me share with you my experience. I drove to the Cobb County Jail to order a background check (they processed it while I was standing there, however some states can take up to two weeks). I was instructed to take the background check to the Superior Court Clerks office in Marietta to get an Apostille. However, they don't do that there; they only notarize. So I took it to the Superior Court Clerks office in Atlanta who said that I needed it notarized before they could put the seal on it. Something that the office in Marietta had overlooked (even after I asked them). I believe that is something you can do at the jail so request it if you are planning on teaching abroad. So I drove to the bank down the road to get it notarized and drove back to get the seal. After that, I packaged my B.S. degree, my official college transcript, three passport photos, a copy of my passport, a self-health form, and my apostille sealed background check. I paid a hefty sum to send the package via Fedex (because apparently no other delivery service is responsible enough to deliver important documents without losing them) to Korea. I waited while the school filed my documents with Immigration Services in Korea. I received my visa number a week after my documents were delivered. I filed my visa application, another self-health form, another offical college transcript, and a consul checklist with the Korean Consulate in downtown Atlanta. I made an appointment for my visa interview with the Consul. My interview is scheduled for tomorrow, 2/8. I'll tell you how it goes. They said that I will be able to pick up my visa on Tuesday, 2/9. We will see! If you could not tell, all of this has happened in a matter of a couple of weeks.

My trip is coming up soon. The school has already purchased my plane ticket. I fly out of Atlanta on 2/23. I have done so much to prepare for this trip (other than the necessary paperwork of course!). I purchased a matching set of luggage which I have already packed, and I absolutely love! I also downloaded a program teaching me Korean which I have been studying every chance I get.

You might ask what I packed for my one year trip to Korea. Well, I am arriving in late February when the weather is cold. Therefore, I packed mostly work clothes and winter clothing. I have been told that clothing in Korea is extremely inexpensive. So, I am planning on purchasing my summer wardrobe over there. I also packed two voltage converters because their voltage is different then America's. The most important items I will bring are my laptop and a webcam so that I can keep in touch with my family and friends.

If you have questions about anything, let me know! I will try my best to answer them.


Anonymous said...

Hi Melanie, I have a question about the application process. Is it normal for companies to request a photo?

Melanie Chastain said...

Hi! It is definitely normal here in Korea. Working for any company whether its a school or a business, every employee submits a photo of themselves.