To do list 3/30/2015

Things I have to do to start preparing for EPIK as well as getting my elementary education certification in New Jersey:

1. Sign up and take a 140 hour TEFL class (I am going with the i-to-i Professional Certificate)

2. Re-take my elementary education math PRAXIS (and pass this time)

3. Take my 24 hour pre-service program: an introduction to the teaching profession

4. All the documents. All the paperwork.

Interviewing with KorVia

I had my initial interview with the KorVia Consulting Agency last night. The only thing was that I thought it was for tonight because apparently I didn’t convert the time difference correctly.

Anyway, I had just come home from a friend’s house when I got a Skype notification: “Hello Tia. Your interview is in 30 minutes. Please let me know when you are ready.”

Panic.

Immediately, I ran to my closet and threw on a blouse, went over my list of cities, and profusely apologized for the confusion.

My recruiter, Sarah, proceeded to video call me and the interview began. After going over my resume, Sarah decided I would apply for EPIK, which is probably the most well-known of the South Korean government programs. She asked me which cities I was interested in, and I gave her my list. Sarah told me my best bet would probably be Gyeongju, in the province of Gyeongbuk (you can only choose one city/province when you apply). I’m happy with this choice, though. Gyeongju, once again, is known as “the museum without walls.” Is that perfect or what?

The rest of the interview went very well, in my opinion. Sarah was very friendly and very good about answering all my questions. She liked that I do children’s programs at my current job, especially since Gyeongju is looking for elementary school teachers!

I will have to get my TEFL/TESOL certification, though. I had been looking at an online course originally, but Sarah told me that I need to have a few in-class hours. Hm. We’ll figure this out later.

Right now, I just have to fill out the EPIK application and get two letters of recommendation. All in all, I’m feeling pretty good!

Where?

I’ve been doing tons of research on where I would like to be if I end up going abroad. While I would love to live in Japan, South Korea is seeming like the better option at this point. EPIK, for example, reimburses your entrance fee, takes care of your rent, provides you with a settlement allowance, takes care of 50% of your health insurance, and offers 18 paid vacation days. All in addition to your monthly salary. To me, that’s a pretty sweet deal.

Now, picking a city or province.

I have pretty much eliminated Seoul and Busan from my choices. I want to be somewhere urban, but I don’t think I want to be in such a metropolitan city.

Things that are important to me include that I am placed in an urban area with adequate public transportation, there are lots of cultural opportunities at my fingertips (read as museums. Lots of museums), and I am located near some sort of natural setting (beach or mountains being my preferences). I don’t think that’s too much to ask, but maybe it is.

So here is what I’ve come up with so far:

1. Jeju Island

– Considered the “Hawaii of Korea.” It’s an island, so there are lots of natural formations, like mountains and craters. Jeju is home to the Manjanggul Lava-tube, which houses the largest known lava column in the world. There’s also a teddy bear museum and a green tea museum.

2. Gyeongju (in Gyeongbuk Province)

– Known as “the museum without walls.” I like the sound of that already. This city apparently has “more tombs, temples, rock carvings, pagodas, Buddhist statuary and palace ruins than any other place in South Korea” (www.lonelyplanet.com). The Gyeongju National Museum is also considered one of the best in all of South Korea.

3. Ulsan (in Gyeongsang Province)

– Home to the world’s largest shipyard and the world’s largest automotive assembly plant (Hyundai). Ulsan has beautiful beaches as well as seven tall mountains. There’s also a traditional earthward village (Onggi) and a whale museum!

4. Changwon (in Gyeongnam Province)

– So many beaches and parks. There’s a musical fountain and Yongji Lake, “Cherry Blosson Street” (which blooms in April), Seongju Temple (which is over 1,000 years old), and the Gyeongnam Art Museum.

I lie awake…

… and I drive myself crazy, drive myself crazy thinking of teaching programs.

I have a tendency to overthink things, and that certainly doesn’t exclude the possibility of moving halfway around the world to teach English. I slept terribly last night because I was up contemplating the different programs I’ve applied to so far. I have two interviews with Japanese companies and one with a South Korean consulting agency that places applicants into government-run programs.

There’s a lot to think about. My biggest concern, to be honest, is going to be making enough money to send some back home to continue taking care of my expenses in the States. I know that wherever I go I’m not going to have disposable income, but every little bit helps.

After that, rent and health care are pretty important. The Japanese programs I’m interviewing with offer subsidized monthly rent, while the South Korean programs take care of rent completely. Health care is provided through everywhere I’ve applied. The Japanese programs deduct an already specified amount each month, and the South Korean ones offer 50% coverage.

Now, here’s the toss up. While the monthly salaries for the Japanese programs are slightly more than the South Korean ones, the South Korean programs offer the added benefits of entrance fee reimbursement (that’s your one-way ticket), and a settlement allowance when you arrive. That helps.

Now, in about 45 minutes, I’ll be getting a phone call from my favorite high school English teacher to ask for a letter of recommendation for the aforementioned programs and talk about what I’ve been up to since graduation. Life is wild.

Becoming a Wanderlust Queen

I’ve been afflicted with the wanderlust for as long as I can remember. My mother was a travel agent before she retired, and I was very lucky as a kid to visit places like Greece, England, Italy, and Canada. She instilled in me a desire to travel and explore.

In middle school, I spent my time coming up with detailed itineraries for a backpacking adventure through Europe. Never happened. In high school, I revised those itineraries and planned to travel before I left for college. Still didn’t happen. In college, I vowed I would study abroad for at least a semester and have the adventure of a lifetime. Ha. Instead, I decided to work on a five year program to finish my MA (which I’m still 3 credits away from completing) and my dreams of world travel fell by the wayside.

They’re back, though. And apparently, with a vengeance. Two years after finishing my BA and one year after the expected completion of my MA, 2015 is the year I will finally go abroad. After applying for full-time jobs for the past two years with no luck, I have decided to teach English abroad. I’m already working on becoming a certified elementary education teacher, so what better way to gain experience?

So, right now, I’ve been sending out applications and scheduling interviews with a few different programs. Let’s see what happens.