Thursday, April 26, 2007

My First Job Offer!

People better start getting in line, the offers are flooding in!

Well OK not really, but I did get one offer and its still very very early. I woke up this morning to see an email from my British Recruiting Agency, Flying Cows Consulting, outlining a job offer and a contract. By the end of this post I'll have made my decision.

If I could post up word documents, I probably would, but here are some of the basics from the 5 page contract:

Location: Daegu
Salary: 2 million won per month (~$2000 USD) w/ overtime of 20,000 KRW per hour (~$20USD)
Vacation: 10 Vacation Days (4 fixed in summer/winter)
Student Level: Kindergarten to Middle School
Class Size: 7-12
Schedule: 10am-8pm
Classes per day: 5-7
Length of Classes: 40-50min
Teaching hours per week: 30
Housing: 2 bedroom/single
Furnishing: Fully Furnished
Distance from Work: 5-10 min
Airfare: Round trip Return Offered
Completion Bonus: One Month's Pay
Health Insurance: Offered
Training Program: Offered
Materials: Provided
Number of Foreign Teachers: 4
Number of Teachers: 1

The positives include that there seems to be more Foreign teachers, the late 10am hour is nice, the class size, round trip airfare, and the training program included. On the flip side - very young children (kindergarten), the late 8pm end time (think about traveling somewhere on a Friday night... 8pm isn't conducive), and the 4 fixed vacation days are not something I like either.

According to Wikipedia, Daegu sits in a basin in the center of South Korea, and collects a lot of humid hot air during the summer, and its drier throughout the year than the rest of the peninsula. I am not looking for that. Although, Daegu IS home to the Samsung Lions in Korean Baseball, which I hear to be a pretty decent team.

Today, after telling a friend about my good news and my trepidation, he said to me, "It might be better than Seoul, because I'd rather go to Denver than New York City." Which is a valid point (especially after having lived in NYC for a few years), but as we all know, there's nothing in the world quite like New York, so there can't be a comparison positively or negatively. Initially one of my main reasons for shying away from Daegu WAS the fact that it doesn't have an airport. BUT after some research I did learn that it does in fact have an airport. I guess being the 4th largest city in a country there would be one, but it mainly only flies to China from what I can tell, and I'm looking for a broader range of flying options.

Basically what it all boils down to, is if I'm going to be moving across the world to live on a peninsula, then I want to make damn sure I see water. I also believe that I can get more from an offer either in Seoul or Busan.

The verdict? Sorry Daegu, but you're out!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


According to the U.S. Department of State website, international drivers licenses get handed out like candy even though "1.17 million deaths occur each year worldwide" due to vehicular accidents (primarily in other countries), or b/c of morons who can't drive, or for innocent bystanders who just happen to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Anyway, with my stellar driving record (I've successfully managed to weasle my way out of getting 3 speeding tickets in my lifetime even if they were deserved or not), I will be in possession of one of these international permits after going through the necessary steps.

What are these steps? Well it is apparently very quick and simple. Most countries do not believe the US drivers license to be adequate, so they have decided an extra piece of paper called an International Drivers Permit (IDP), which is to be kept with your actual license at all times, suggests you are an OK driver and is accepted almost anywhere. It doesn't replace your driver's license, it just supplements it. The IDP can be requested through AAA (American Autombile Association) by filling out this handy little form, and paying $15. You could also go through the AATA (American Automobile Touring Alliance), but who has ever really heard of them before? At least AAA gives you a discount at various places if you have one of their nifty little cards. Anyway, jump through those simple hoops, and within no time you'll have an IDP and be ready for some foreign cruising.

Do I really expect to be driving over there? In short, no. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, Seoul has more than 3 million registered vehicles for its 605 sq. kilometers which is smaller than New York City - so traffic congestion is a pretty common problem over there. My purpose for having an IDP is two fold - 1) I want to add another license to my list just for fun (car, boat, soon to be motorcycle), - and 2) I have read in multiple places that people will rent cars while visiting the island of Jeju, an island off the southern coast of Korea that's a very popular vacation spot full of beaches and subtropical weather.

Whenever I get it in the mail, I'll make sure to scan a copy to show you all here.

***Added after this was posted***
A recent article on CNN about the statistics of Americans involved in Foreign Car Crashes

Friday, April 20, 2007

The State of Things

I've done a bit of tweaking to the site to jazz it up a bit recently - streamlined it, added in some color, moved some stuff around, and added You Tube videos (that yours truly has taken). Granted, the videos are primarily of concerts (I do still work in Music), but it is only a matter of time before they become very focused on Asian matters. Oh, and yea, I sold out to the man and added Google AdSense so we'll see if I ever actually generate some money with this (that's not my purpose or anything ;).

The next month or two will be pretty slow as far as my Korea updates. I have decided to work with Ask Now Inc. to secure a position primarily, but I'm still keeping Flying Cows Consulting (based out the UK) as a backup just in case. I probably could go through any of the number of recruiters that email me daily, but they don't seem 100% legit. I'm entertaining their information, but I believe the safest bet is with Ask Now, plus they just seem like a fun tight knit group. I get a few emails a week from them with various information about moving to Korea, and I really do look forward to getting to know everyone involved. They have guaranteed me that I will have a job by August as long as I don't forget how to speak English and as long as I'm patient... so here's hoping.

Stuff that I will be looking into in the upcoming weeks will be getting an international driver's license (couldn't hurt right?), storage units for stuff here, packing info (stuff to bring, what not to forget, luggage tips, etc,), learning the language, actually teaching EFL, my lists of things to visit, etc etc. Basically, I'm so incredibly bored and this is all I've got to focus on. ;)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Unfortunate Mark in History

I've had this post drafted for a few days now, mainly because I've been composing my thoughts on the tragedy probably heard round the world by now: The Virginia Tech Massacre that happened on Monday, April 16th that was the worst slaughter in US History. It was an unnecessary and unwarranted day of bloodshed from which the events and details are still unfolding. The basics are such however, that during the 7am hour in Blacksburg, VA Cho Seung-Hui, a Korean born 23 year old male who had been living in the United States for the past 14 years went on a rampage killing 33 people including himself. First killing two people in a dormitory before heading back to his room to reload, gather materials, send a package to NBC including an 1800 word Manifesto, pictures, and video, before heading back to the Virginia Tech Campus to kill more innocent people.

There are no words to say here that haven't been said in a million other ways and places. However, I do think that it is important to stress the message that this was an isolated event that was carefully constructed and thought up by the ideas of a madman, and it should not cause any backlash as the Asian Community, or to South Korea itself. South Korea has sent its condolences and support to the area, and a number of international newspapers have reported on many occurences of the same.

What is important now is finding a reason as to what specifically made him result to this tragic behavior, not to attack the entertainment industry because he susposedly was copycating a violent film, review gun control (they don't need to be taken away, but stricter rules and guidelines should be created and enforced), and in my opinion the state of Mental Care and preventative measures need to be reevaluated and overhauled (people like Cho that were declared an "imminent danger to himself because of mental illness" should have had proper care, and no access to purchase traditional weapons).

And I say this next statement in response to a few of you asking if I'm still hoping to go abroad; of course I am - America is the place with the violence problem, so now is a PERFECT time to get the hell outta dodge.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Keep 'em Comin'

Half way (ish) through April and I've made significant headway. Remember when I said that I didn't like Dave's ESL Cafe? Well, so far its proved incredibly helpful. Leave it to me to be completely against something that would have aided in my goals from day one. Eh, there's a learning curve in this whole process, right?

Let me set the scene for you:
-Whatever day it was, Tuesday or so, I was complaining to current coworkers that I'm not gonna get a job, or that my timing won't work out, b/c nothing can be as easy as these websites are making it out to be. Free Housing? Free Airfare? Great pay? Riiiight.
-I posted my letter of interest and my resume up on Dave's site Thursday afternoon almost as a joke (again, b/c the site looks so sketchy), and within the next 24 hours I had 23 inquiries, 7 job offers, and 2 impromptu phone interviews. Not bad eh?
-Thursday night, Jenn is as giddy as a 6 year old with a new toy b/c things are looking up.

Over the course of the next few days I weed out the seemingly legit from the completely crap emails and find one from a company called Access Korea, which I believe I mentioned in the previous post. Jason (head of the company) emailed me, and it was one of the most eloquent, caring, exciting letters I've ever received. It was something from someone who's been through this whole process before personally, and is just out to make sure that people now get the same if not better experience than he had. He sent videos, and audio clips, and quotes from people that have used his agency, and asked for my resume/photo (which is customary in Korea so the schools can get some idea of who they're hiring). After sending this to him, he then asks for a phone interview, which I did on Thursday. On Sunday I received an email from him with the subject, "Looks like Jennifer is going to Korea" and a 50 page guidebook on what to expect. Basically, I'll have job offers coming to me in late June to choose from, as apparently I'm an excellent candidate. yay!

Now, it will remain to be seen if I actually go through Access Korea, because in my opinion due to my personal time table, I want a job secured as soon as possible. However, if worse comes to worse, its nice to know that there are options and that something will come from all of this. If I can hold out, I think I'd really like to work with this company. Apparently they take ski trips and have christmas parties for all of the ESL teachers. Now that's something I can get behind...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

It Figures...

I didn't expect to write another post so soon after the creation (yesterday) but I've got time to kill and some new information to share.

The new information being that I found a blog that has more information than I could have ever asked for. I don't know why it never popped up on any of my searches before (it looks to be about a year old), but low and behold today, it was atop my google search results. Now, when you click on the link I'm about to give you, you may notice how familiar it looks, and I swear to you I have never seen it before today. That being said, there really are only so many graphic options one can choose when using blogspot, but still. And honestly, he's doing some of the things with it that I was hoping to do with mine. I guess now I will just have to be a bit more creative.

So anyway, I spent the entire day reading his blog. I started in June of 06, and made it up until about October I think. He spends a lot of time talking about Korean Food, but underneath it all he had some really insightful things to say, and an abundance of pictures which I've been having trouble finding elsewhere. The one thing I noticed is that he doesn't go into too much detail about the beginning, but does give a link to Dave's ESL Cafe - something my own searches have kept bringing me back to. Today I finally gave in and for about an hour perused the Korean Job Board. (I don't particular like Dave's ESL Cafe website... there's something very basic and old about the whole setup - like someone created it using the old Geocities cut and paste HTML program. It comes off as a sketchier for the international teaching world)

I found about 10 different recruiting agencies to contact, but the most promising has to be Ask Now. The intro alone hooked me:

"The year was 1999, and there I was, living in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. I was working in a job that I didn’t particularly like, and I had debts starting to accumulate. As a recent graduate, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. Then, I saw an ad in a newspaper that read, “Teach English in South Korea.” I was interested, so I called the guy. After chatting for a half hour, I was hooked. I couldn’t believe that this opportunity was possible, and that it actually applied to me. So, what started as a one-year contract led to another, and another, and eventually 5 years of teaching in Korea, with months of vacation and travel between contracts. It was a great lifestyle. " - Jason

Well yep, sign me up. I've already sent in an application, requested materials, and will watch the videos they have to offer a little bit later. I am bound and determined to get everything I want as soon as possible (mainly b/c the alternative is too scary to think about).

More on this stuff as it develops...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Step 1. Admit You Have a Problem.

The Setup:
I probably should have started this in October last year when I first thought about jumping ship, but it is probably better for everyone involved that I didn't. You would have read a LOT of "OMG, should I do this? is this legit? Am I crazy?" day after day after day. Now that I've had a few months to think about this, as crazy as it sounds, its the most sane decision I've made in years. That calm, cool, collected, and logical statement obviously comes after about 67 freakouts. The point of starting this now is three-fold - 1) I'm bored and excited, and still have quite a few months left to go before I actually leave 2) It'll get me organized and ready 3) It'll answer questions you've all been asking me and then inherently entertain you, and really - that's what I'm here for.

The Basics:
- I'm a 24 year old girl who graduated from Syracuse University and has been working in the music industry for the past 3 years full time. I've partied with the best of 'em in NYC (and 'Cuse), but I'm burnout and jaded and looking for a massive change.
- I received a shiney brand new passport in February of this year, and its burning a hole in my pocket.
-I'm hoping to go to South Korea to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). I'm not entirely picky since its not like I'll know the difference, but I'm hoping for Seoul, Busan (Pusan), or Daegu. Mainly because I want to be near an airport for more traveling fun, and a big city with the opportunity to meet tons of people.

-NYC Lease is up: July 31.
-Last Day of work: ??
-BIG Home Friend Wedding in CNY: Aug 18th.
-Leave Date: Anytime After Aug 18th

What I've Done So Far:
- Got a Passport.
- Bought a new camera (this Asia thing was the excuse I used for buying it, so I suppose I should go, right?)
- Sign up for listservs on,, and peruse sites like Dave's ESL Cafe, random blogs, etc.
- Contacted some recruiting agencies such as: Footprints Recruiting based out of Vancouver, Flying Cows Consultants based out of the UK (where you can see my bland picture and decent resume:
- Talked to Cingular. Apparently I can pay what they call a 'Reduced Rate Suspension' which is $10 a month to keep my phone on while in foreign countries. Which will be very helpful for when I return to visit or to reintegrate.
-Start this blog. (Hey that's productive, right?)

What Has to Happen From Here:
A Lot. - I'm just now figuring out the Visa process (apparently Korea wants my original Diploma - which they'll have to pry that expensive piece of paper from my cold dead hands if they think that's happening), and of course I still need a job before I get too ahead of myself. After that it should be all downhill - signing of contracts, moving, ending work, getting a plane ticket, scheduling an obligatory Going Away party, and most importantly saying goodbye to everyone I've ever known for the unknown. Oh, and I should learn English.

In upcoming posts you will be regailed with my tales of dealing with the daunting task of finding a job, hopefully hearing about my prospects and interviews, and if all goes according to plan (fingers crossed) eventually the insanity of actually being in Asia. Be sure to expect a lot of information, and of course pictures. ;)

In Case you couldn't guess below is the South Korean Flag (an image I've fallen in love with):