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The final preparations

February 1, 2011

After about 5 months, 15+ pages of applications, recommendation letters, essays, background checks, securing university documents, 2 trips to LA, many trips to the San Diego County office, dealing with the FBI and the IRS, getting a visa, lots of stress and a lot of waiting….I am finally about ready to head to Korea to start my teaching contract!

Though it is not necessarily “hard” to get a public school job in South Korea, as you can see from the above it takes a lot of hard work, time, stress and patience.  The requirements to teach in the country are pretty simple: be a native English speaker, with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, a TEFL or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate if you want to teach  in Seoul, and a clean criminal record.   And if you are picky about where you want to be placed (like I am) it is basically a race to the finish to get all your documents in as soon as possible and as perfect as possible.   I am not going to lie, in my opinion it is a tedious and hellish process, but the hard work paid off and I hope this next year will be well worth it!

So Why South Korea?

For most people, including myself, there are a few good reasons.  Firstly, for teaching English right out of college…South Korea pays the most!  Korea (and the Korean government) has English fever and they spend billions of dollars (some experts have estimated between $10-15 billion) on English education.  And I am definitely okay with taking a small percentage of that fortune!

Curious what all that money goes to?  Below is what an English teacher in Korea can expect from a one year teaching contract.

  • Paid airfare to and from Korea. (along with an entrance allowance to cover a few various expenses)
  • A furnished single apartment
  • Paid vacation time (21 days for public school positions, excluding the many national holidays)
  • Monthly salary generally between $1600-$2000+ depending on your qualifications and teaching experience.
  • Among a few other things such as a settlement allowance, %50 medical insurance etc

So overall, it’s a pretty good deal for anyone who wants to travel and have the ability to save a good amount of money due to the fact you wont have to pay a monthly rent, car payment etc.

Oh yea, and not to mention the fact that South Korea sounds awesome. I have only heard good things (ok I’ve talked to one person who didn’t like Korea but I don’t trust that source).  In my opinion, the culture is interesting, the food is delicious and the lifestyle is exciting and fun!

Where is South Korea? Somewhere in South-East Asia?

Not exactly.  South Korea is pretty far north and can get pretty cold.  If you think I am being completely obvious by explaining this, then you don’t know how bad Americans really are at geography.  When I tell most peers that I am heading to South Korea, many probably cannot pin point it on a map.  And for those of you, looky here…I’ve added a little map for you to see!

Among some of the other responses I’ve gotten when explaining I am going to Korea is “Oh, cool…North or South?” and “Wait, arent Koreans communist?”.  This point shows how awful Americans are at foreign politics as well.

Why Seoul?

Well, if i can’t find an employer to pay for my rent in Tokyo, Paris, London, Hong Kong or NYC….then Seoul it is!  Over 10 million people living in the urban core + many cultural sites + things to do + nice scenery + a population density that is double to New York City = sky-high rent prices (which I don’t have to pay).  With all the exciting places to explore and fun things to do I don’t see myself getting bored within a year either 🙂

I can’t wait to visit to visit the palaces, markets, shopping areas and beautiful scenery in my free time!

I leave the USA on February 21st, and after arriving in Korea, I head to a 9 day orientation for all new English teachers in Seoul.

I hope to document an entertaining/informational/ridiculous year to come and for you to read.

Are you interested in teaching English in Korea?

This is an amazing blog by a Canadian couple teaching in Korea.  It answers almost any question about teaching English in publics schools and living in South Korea  –>

Here is the recruiting company I used get help with paperwork and help get me placed in Seoul —>  (I wouldn’t give them the greatest recommendation, at times they were a pain in the butt and I heard the same from other people….BUT all in all they still got me here and made sure I got a place in Seoul.  Sometimes dealing with recruiters can make the process a bit more difficult than just dealing with EPIK directly)

Here is the direct site for EPIK (English Program in Korea).  You can apply directly through this site, or apply with a recruiter (like above) to get accepted. —>

If you’ve stumbled upon this blog and want to ask someone some specific questions about applying and working in public school positions in Korea….email me and I might just respond.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Your Dad!` permalink
    February 1, 2011 6:05 pm

    Too cool. Great beginning blog. Wish I could join you (on the traveling part not the work part).

    Lv dad.

  2. The Groundhog Gang permalink
    February 1, 2011 10:00 pm

    We wish you luck and hope it’s everything you want it to be! Grandma wants to send you a Kimono dress. She thinks you’ll fit in better wearing it while you teach. And she doesn’t want you picking up any strange accents. Brenda highly recommends eating lots of sannakji so you are energetic. I think you ought to take your new friends to the malls and show them how we have a good time in America. There’s nothing like watching soju rain down on a bunch of kkangpae fools eating kimchi three floors below you!

    Have a safe trip, and keep us updated!
    Love Grandma G, Cuz K, Nurse B, Ma Belle & Tweety (The Groundhog Gang)

    • February 1, 2011 11:49 pm

      Dear Groundhog Gang, In the same day I wear a kimono to class, I also will eat sannakji (maybe dog too), go to the mall, and make it rain soju. Then I will blog about it. Thanks for giving me the best blog idea ever. Hahahah. Love you guys, hope all is well 🙂

      • The Groundhog Gang permalink
        February 2, 2011 3:51 am

        There was a Spanish guy, a Korean guy, and a Russian guy all working for the same construction company. At the beginning of the day the boss came out and said to the Spanish guy, “You’re in charge of the cement.”

        Then he said to the Russian guy, “You’re in charge of the dirt.”

        Then he said to the Korean guy, “You’re in charge of supplies.”

        Then he said, “I’m gonna be back at the end of the day to check on your work.”

        At the end of the day, the boss checked over the big pile of cement and said “Good work” to the Spanish guy. Then he looked at the big pile of dirt and said “Good work” to the Russian guy. When he couldn’t find the Korean guy he asked, “Where the heck is the Korean guy??”

        All of a sudden, the Korean guy jumped out from behind the big pile of dirt and yelled, “SUPPLIES!”

        [Thus the importance of a good English teacher!]

  3. Jill Arant permalink
    February 22, 2011 8:48 pm

    Hi Jessica! Been thinking about you and hope your journey to Korea was fun and uneventful…except for any good events! Now your real journey starts – will look forward to seeing updates on your blog. Have fun and be safe!

  4. Dad permalink
    March 7, 2011 2:38 am

    Soooo glad everything has worked out well. Sorry to hear about Josh. I hope that you can stay in touch with him. It sounds like you need a crash course in Korean. Keep sending updates. Love, Dad.

  5. Dad permalink
    March 7, 2011 2:38 am

    Soooo glad everything has worked out well. Sorry to hear about Josh. I hope that you can stay in touch with him. It sounds like you need a crash course in Korean. Keep sending updates. Love, Dad.

  6. Jill Arant permalink
    March 8, 2011 6:56 pm

    Hi Jessica! Loving your blog! You are a very good correspondant and you write just like you talk! So fun to hear about your escapades! What experiences you are having – and it sounds like you are meeting some really nice pepes. I love that your neighbor is from SD and you have also met someone from Rancho Penasquitos! Such a big world gets smaller! That was a great joke posted about “supplies” haha I’ll be telling that one to Bill when he gets home tonight! Your mom and I are playing golf Thurs – we went to the “mats” on Sunday for some practice and a Billzy lesson. Be safe and have fun and keep your blog going! It’s great!

    • March 9, 2011 4:04 am

      Thanks Jill! Glad you enjoy it. Have fun golfing and I hope Bill enjoys the joke too! haha

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