Thursday, July 23, 2009

A month without kimchi -- woohoo!

After arriving back in Canada I gave myself one day to rest and recover from jet lag, and spend time with my parents.

I then began the task of compiling the THIRTEEN items the recruiting company and Seoul Metropolitan Education Office want me to submit . . .

The first thing I had to do was fax them a signed copy of my contract with a waiver against suing the recruiting company. I thought the waiver was quite amusing and have been trying to imagine reasons why an individual would sue a recruiting company for helping them find a job teaching English in South Korea, lol.

The fax cost me $21.00 . . . I freaked out for a minute when I realized that I wasn't sure if I had to fax my contract to a number inside Canada or if I had to fax it to a Korean number--check out the international fee PER PAGE! I had to fax 14 pages . . .yikes!

I then got new passport photos done because I have to get my passport renewed as it expires in about 4 months. I decided to get 6 made so that I have extras on hand when I need them: the cost? 19.99 fee for taking my picture and first two copies, 9.99 per two copies after that . . . the total? $45.00

While I was in the shopping mall where my mom's bookstore is I later saw outside the building that played a fairly large role in my middle school and high school years for socializing and seeing movies. It was being torn down . . . my sister and I used to go see movies here all the time. The theater showed titles that had been out for at least a year but nobody cared because the ticket prices were 80% less than at the regular theater--you can't beat 2.00 to see a movie on the big screen.

This is a shot of the bus stop outside the townhouse complex where my parents live. They're kind of on the edge of the city although there has been a lot of development and expansion of the area lately--it's always surreal to come home and see massive big box stores have been built while you're gone, etc.

It's amazing how place and memory can be so intertwined . . . this bus shelter has a LOT of memories for me from middle to high school to university . . .

Looking down the street waiting for the bus to come. On the left is the townhouse complex where my parents live (and I used to live), and on the right is a very small patch of forest with a large farmer's field . . .

I took the bus to my university (pictures of that to come later) . . . and I went to the student services office to get new copies of my transcripts. Four copies and $48.00 later I was on my way . . .

I then headed downtown to my city's police headquarters to apply to get my criminal background check . . . however, I found out that I had to show them proof of residence in Canada to apply. They wouldn't let me use the addresses in South Korea where I've been living for the past five years for the blanks on the application where I had to write my addresses for the past five years . . . uhm, okay . . .

When I explained to the clerk why I was applying and where I'd been living she said, "Well then, the Korean government should be doing their own checks" with a scathing tone of voice--I agreed, laughing, and said, "Yeah, expat teachers have been saying that for YEARS!"

Anyways, I go back this morning (it's 4am here, and yes my jet lag has messed with my sleep schedule) with a bill in my name with my 'permanent address in Canada' on it so that I can get my criminal background check done while I wait which is cool cause I was worried it'd take forever to get one done--7-10 business days is too long a wait for me because I need to send these documents in one big package back to Korea to the recruiting company's office who will then send it to Seoul's education office who will then send me a 'letter of appointment' saying I have the job so that I can then go and apply for a new E2 work visa . . . ugh.

One irritating thing about the document gathering process is that I will have to go to the Korean consulate in Toronto (a two hour bus ride plus travel time inside the city itself, bus ticket cost will likely be $90.00) to get a Korean consular stamp on my criminal background check and university degree . . . apparently this is only for Canadians, other nationalities have a slightly different process . . .

Anyways, on a lighter note my dad made my mom and I dinner. Hmmmmm, chicken and vegetables . . .

Note the absence of kimchi and anything red and spicy!

Oh baby . . .

Well, time to go watch some TV--hundreds of channels in English to choose from with hundreds of programs in ENGLISH--oh so many choices . . . oh yeah.

J

7 comments:

Foreigner Joy said...

By applying to SMOE ..if I am correct... are you going to be able to chose which area and school you work at? From what I know you are placed based on a lottery system.

Jason said...

I have no idea what the actual process is . . .

The application form asks you if you're willing to travel for 1 hour from home to school--I put no.

I don't know how they choose where they post you--I know I don't get a choice in location other than 'in Seoul' . . . I also requested that I teach high school level but know that it is only a request too ...

I'll try to find out more about how the selection process works during the orientation . ..

As far as I'm concerned as long as I'm inside the central Seoul area (inside the square that is on the maps of Seoul showing the core area) I really don't care. And as far as schools go it's all a crap shoot anyway in terms of quality of co-teachers and the principal because they transfer every four years, etc.

I kind of got an impression that a lottery is not involved in terms of where people get posted but that it's rather based on your resume, interview, and where they think you're best suited to be posted . . . I'm sure there are other factors involved . . .

I'm not worried and will simply be happy to have an apartment inside Seoul where I can actually have access to everything that you can find in Seoul--four years of living in areas with low numbers of foreign teachers, little to no foreign food access, and not having access to the billions of things you can do when you're in Seoul . .. .

Yeah, I'm really not worried about the exact place I'm posted too . ..

J

John from Daejeon said...

If you miss the TV, slingmedia.com and myhava.com can really help out if you have someone who can host a either a sling or hava box for you. Torrents have made life much easier abroad, but live and recorded (dvrs) programs on your time can't be beat.

Brian said...

Ugh, yeah, the cost for passport photos sucks. I also remember paying a lot and getting . . . two copies. In Korea, though, I got about 20 for 10,000 won. (They touched them up, of course, heh.)

Anonymous said...

10 Wonderland?? Good memories...

Foreigner Joy said...

Thanks for the response. I am considering SMOE for February but don't really desire to live in a crowded run down part of Seoul. So I don't want to end up somewhere crappy and have no way of backing out of it.

Jason said...

Hi Foreigner Joy,

I know and understand about your focus on quality of housing but I'd like to suggest that it's a total and complete LOTTERY when it comes to housing . . . and that if you put too much emphasis and stress on housing when applying for jobs it will likely raise red flags with potential jobs/employers that you're a 'fussy' foreigner who will just complain about everything and be difficult to work with.

I lived in a freaking 3-season hut from hell my first year that was not meant for four season habitation--literally! The door to my kitchen was made of metal and glass with a gap at the bottom that let in bugs and whatever else wanted to come in. During the winter it was so cold in my kitchen I never used it. Oh, and did I mention that the bathroom was next to the main door and kitchen? I had to run a space heater for 10 minutes into my shower/bathroom before I could use it during the winter months--oh yeah, and that's when the underground water pipes weren't frozen and stopping me from having running water . . .

Then there was the fact that the hut was 10 meters away from the school itself. I had no privacy at all. The principal and teachers would come and knock and call me whenever they wanted me for something--even on weekends until I put a stop to that. The principal also liked to give permission to large traveling groups to picnic and nore bang in the school yard right in front of my apartment during the summer--imagine trying to sleep when you're sick and there's a goddamn nore bang system cranking out ajusshi songs at full volume . . .

Oh, and did I mention that the apartment was in a two-street village next to a mountain on an island 30 minutes from the closest foreign teacher who I never really saw . . .?

There are only a handful of other teachers in Korea who have had equal to or worse than what I lived in during my first year ..

If you want an apartment that is large, multi-roomed (not a shoebox officetel), fairly modern, and good quality you're going to have to apply to positions that are rural and in areas with good budgets for the education offices--and even that is not going to guarantee anything.

Good luck, and be careful how much you focus on this when looking for your next job.

J