Hello all! I have exciting news!
So I have certainly been busy since my last post! Since the last time I wrote for the blog I have completed collecting all of the necessary documents for my visa, begun the job hunt with two separate recruiting agencies, interviewed for a bunch of schools, and (wait for it…) CHOSEN A SCHOOL!!! But we will get to that in due time!
To get some of the slightly more boring stuff out of the way first, when I last left off I had just received my FBI criminal background check (CBC) back after weeks of anxious waiting. I did end up using a courier service to get the CBC apostilled by the State Department in Washington, D.C. I used a fantastic service called US Legalization. They were outstanding. All I had to do was mail them my CBC, a prepaid return envelope, and a check to cover their fee and the State Department’s fee for the apostille. In total it only cost around $45 to get the apostille done and I had it back in my hands in three business days. This was definitely not bad when compared to some of the other apostille services that charge double or triple that for the exact same service. All in all it was a rather painless process, and I would certainly use US Legalization again. I highly recommend them!
After that the last thing I had to do was make apostilled copies of both of the diplomas for my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. As with anything else in this long process I did extensive research on the process online, and had some trepidations as to how it would all go. I had read in various places that it can be hard to get your diploma apostilled if you are not in the state in which it was issued. Well luckily that was not the case here in Michigan! The Secretary of State here really could not be more laid back about the whole process. All I had to do was take my diplomas to the nearest UPS Store to make copies and then stop by my local bank and they notarized a statement that I signed stating that “I certify that this is a true copy of my diploma.” Once that was done I took them to my local Secretary of State Supercenter where they apostilled the notarized statement and it was all done. All in all, the entire process took about an hour and a grand total of $2.46, 46 cents for the copies and $2 for the apostilles. And that was that! I now have all of the documents I need for my visa!
While I was finishing up the process of apostilling the last of the required visa documents I contacted both my original recruiting agency and a couple others to get the ball really rolling on the job hunt. Just about everywhere I looked people suggested using multiple recruiters when searching for a teaching position at a hagwon in South Korea. I found this to be pretty solid advice. Recruiting agents kind of play the role of a used car salesman. They help you try and find the right one that fits your needs, but at the end of the day they are out to make a buck and sell you on one of their own. So I decided to use two of the more highly recommended national recruiters and one local recruiter for the Busan area on the south-east tip of the peninsula. The local Busan recruiter, though they came highly recommended, turned out to be total rubbish. After three emails that went completely unanswered they finally matched me to two positions in Busan. I responded that one of the two really interested me but never heard another word from them. On the other hand, both of the national recruiters I used were extremely helpful in the job search.
The two national recruiters I used were fantastic at listening to what I was looking for in a position and getting my resumé out to schools all around Korea. I would highly recommend both Park English and English & Korea to anyone looking for a hagwon job in South Korea. In the course of under one week, the two recruiters scored me six interviews with different hagwons in places like Seoul, Jonju, Suncheon, and Daegu. Just a small aside, the one thing that I personally found funny about the whole process was how I told both recruiters that unlike a lot of people that are looking into teaching English in South Korea I was really not interested in living in Seoul. I would be okay with living in one of the satellite cities outside of Seoul, but living in downtown Seoul was really not my cup of tea. Yet a few schools in downtown Seoul asked both of my recruiters for interviews with me without them ever sending those hagwons my resumé. In the end there were some good interviews and some “okay” interviews, but there ended up being one clear cut winner for me.
After all of my interviews there was one particular school and location that stuck out in my mind. To be honest, I am still not one hundred percent sure why it did at the time. Going into the whole job hunt process I really didn’t have any major preferences about where I wanted to teach in South Korea. My only initial requirement was that I wanted to at least be in some sort of civilized location and not out in the boonies. As time went on I developed a few more preferences. I decided that I definitely wanted to work mostly with younger students. My personality tends to mesh well with younger kids and it would make my teaching that much more effective and fun for me. While scouring some teaching in Korea message boards one day last week I discovered how amazingly cheap tickets to any of the K-League, the top tier professional soccer league, sides are. Tickets to get into a K-League team run from around 1,000 won to 10,000 won, so anywhere between 80 cents and $9! I love soccer, and that seemed like an inexpensive and easy way for me to entertain myself on the weekends, so I told my recruiters that I wanted to be located somewhere close to a K-League stadium. My final item on my wish list was something that was always in the back of my mind, but it took a little while for it to become an official part of my job requirements. I wanted to be along the coast. Korea doesn’t necessarily have amazing beaches or anything, but I still like being along the coast. So with all of those considerations in mind, my decision became pretty clear to me.
For the next year I will be living and teaching in the city of Suncheon, South Korea on the southern tip of the peninsula! Suncheon checks a lot of the boxes for things that I wanted both as far as working conditions and location. It is a city of around 280,000 people, has the Chunnam Dragons close by, and is right along the coast. After quite a bit of research, I think that it will be a fantastic fit for me!
There are a bunch of exciting things about the location that all played a role in why I chose it, but this post has become quite long as it stands, so you will just have to wait for my post later this weekend when I shall update you all about Suncheon, the surrounding area, and the job offer!