Wednesday, June 27, 2007

So... I'm Going to Asia...

Well, its taken a few days, but I've come to grips with the scope of this whole thing. Obviously I knew this was coming, and I've been preparing for it, but there's something to be said for when this kind of thing officially happens. Reality sets in and a '!!' becomes a '...'.

I signed my contract today, which was 7 pages long, and faxed it back to the recruiter. Figuring out how to work a fax to send something internationally took me a minute, but I added in a few extra numbers and it seemed to have worked. When in doubt, push extra buttons - if it doesn't explode, you win.

I thought for a second that I'd scan it to show you, but there's really no point to that since its pretty basic. I will be paid 2.0 Million Won each month (whoo hoo I'm a millionaire!) which works out to be about $2,000 USD, 10 vacation days, free roundtrip tickets, 50% health insurance, a pension plan that SHOULD get refunded to me at the end of the contract, a month's bonus at the end of the 12 months, an orientation/training time of 3-10 days and be paid 40,000 won each day during that time, and be set up with my own studio apartment which they will pay for. My expenses will be minimal, as it consists of electricity/gas/water/phone/tv (if i want it, and I probably won't) which should, rumor has it, come out to be $100-150 total per month. I'll also be using Skype as well (more information to come).

I will be working for the SLP school in Suji Gu, Yong In Si which is about 25-30 minutes from downtown Seoul. My leave date is August 20th and the details are still a little fuzzy as far as if I will be flying out of Syracuse, NY or if I will be flying out of Newark, NJ. Syracuse is easiest since I'll be home, but Newark will allow me to spend my last night in New York, have less connections, and meet up with my friend to fly out together from the beginning. It's up to the recruiter/school at this point to figure all of that out. More on that as things develop.

So what happens next? The visa process. I will be receiving an E2 visa, but generally E4's are what is needed to travel in and out of an asian country, but for some reason Korea is exempt from this. I now have to Fed-Ex all of the following materials to the school in Korea:

- My Original Diploma (I'm assured I will get this very expensive piece of paper back)
- A sealed copy of my official university transcripts
- A copy of my resume
- A copy of my passport picture page (copy only)
- Signed contract
- 2 passport-sized photos

After I take care of that this week, basically all there's left to do is wait, pack, and go. I'll be researching more things like Banking, Phones, US Tax information (like, do I have to pay any?), and then making lists of everything I'll need to bring and such.

Other than that, all that's left to do is officially tell work I will no longer be an employee here. As exciting as it is (I've had dreams of running into the HR office, jumping up and down, and saying, "PEACE OUT SUCKAS!") , it really is bittersweet.

Monday, June 25, 2007


As of 10:51pm tonight I got a job offer for South Korea!!!!

I'm thoroughly freaked out and excited and nervous and happy and so many other words that I can't even remember.

I have a contract in hand, and well, you'll hear all about that in detail later.

Also, my co-traveler has received one too, so this is just beyond exciting!

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Ebs & Flows of Interviewing

Well, *we are finally in the beginning of our actual interviewing stages, and I've had two. I am slightly concerned about it all, but won't become truly nervous until around July 1 as that's my "OH MY GOD, WHAT IF I DON'T GET A SCHOOL" date. Up until this point, we've been told "It's too early to interview, wait til late June, don't worry." Now that its late June I feel like everything is going to pass me by and somehow wind up on the other side without a job. This is probably not the case, as I can be kind of a worrier at the last minute. I also have this annoying of habit of believing everything will work itself out on its own, so I'm trusting in that right now.

Allow me to explain what the process so far has been like... Everyone knows that when you want a job here, you get your resume together, mail it out to about 100 places right off the bat and just wait for the interviews to come rolling in. When they do, you try and juggle them all. You schedule them, and you research them, and keep all of the paperwork you collect in order and try to be as organized as possible. Well... that's not really the case here. Basically when one school is interested, we will get a form letter email from the recruiter giving us the details of the school (hours, pay, what they offer, type of school, location, etc.). They hold all interviews at 11am Korea Time, which corresponds to 10pm New York time. In the email they ask for 3 days worth of availability for the school to call you and we only have one interview at a time to interview with, as to not get anything confused. Sounds kind of efficient right?

Wrong. I'd rather not devote every 3-4 days to only one interview, and if I could, get a bidding war going between multiple schools, but that's just cuz 'I'm a business, man'. Anyway, last week I had my first official interview with a school called Kae Tae Wong. Everything was all set. I had a confirmation email that the school would call me at 10pm, and I was in my apartment by 10, all ready to go, in a quiet room, with the information up on my computer screen just in case. 10pm, 10:15pm, 10:45pm, 11pm goes by, and no ringing of the phone. I email my recruiter, they apologize, and ask if they can still call. I'm a bit of a night owl, so they call me at 1am. The Korean woman on the other end of the phone was as sweet as could be, but very broken english. We talk for 10 minutes, she tells me a bit about the school, we laugh for a second, I thought I had this in the bag. She says she likes me, and was gonna have an english speaking teacher call me back the next night so I could get more information. Well, no such call. They went with someone else. Ah well, no big deal, onto the next interview. I give my availability for 3 more days, and no phone call. School choose someone else before even calling. But fortunately, the recruiter had another school all set to go.

At 11:450pm last night, I received a call from an extremely nice woman at a school called SLP. SLP happens to be a franchised school, which means that there are 30 campuses or so throughout the country, and its attached to a University. We spoke for an hour, and I would like to think that this is the one. Stephanie, the woman I spoke with, actually spent some time in Manhattan and we chatted about that for a bit. Hopefully within a few days I'll be writing about accepting a position, but I don't want to get my hopes up, or too ahead of myself.

Time will tell... but so far, its been a very slow unpredictable process. And for the next so many nights until I finally sign a contract, you can expect that I'll be waiting by a phone at 10pm every night waiting for Asia's call.

*Also, I say "We" because I have found a willing participant to travel with, but I choose not to disclose that information at this time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Getting Learned With New Books

I did one post in May. One. Some would call it laziness (me) and some would just say that there's absolutely nothing going on at the moment (also me), but that will change soon. Basically what I'd like to think is that I spent that time really researching the crazy thing I'm about to do in two months, and that's somewhat true. Although what would be closer to the truth, is I have gotten a bit lazy as the weather has warmed up, and have been making good use of the little time I've got left in New York (concerts, a Rolling Stone Mag Birthday Party, summer movies, outside drinking, etc. etc.). Ya know, I complain, but this city has been home for almost three years, and in the grand scheme of things it has provided me with an insurmountable amount of entertainment, and that's really all I'm out for. Perhaps I'm becoming a bit more nostalgic as the weeks wind down, and am romanticizing everything as time ticks away, but I think that there is a strong chance I'll return to New York after my stint in Asia. With that being said, I'm really in no place to make any predictions as I want to keep a completely open mind.

Anyway.... .... I wasn't kidding about the research thing. I have managed to pick up two books recently that I think have really enhanced my understanding of Korea and will continue to be useful throughout my stay there.
The first being Lonely Planet's Guide to Korea. I bought the most recent edition (which is currently sold out in most places such as Barnes & Noble) online at Amazon's marketplace, used, for $9 and it was in perfect condition.

Now, I've been needing an excuse to buy a Lonely Planet book, b/c they're so damn good. They give you a brief history in the beginning, some paragraphs on the culture and daily life, and then they break up the rest of the book into different areas and suggest every place imaginable to visit. I broke out the highlighter for things to remember and also got a pretty great history of Korea as far as their place as China's little brother, and a better understanding into their dislike for Japan. It also suggested some places in North Korea, which piqued my interest so now THAT is in the back of my mind.

Also, it talked a bit about Hangul, Korea's written language, which I'm slowly but surely becoming fascinated with. Expect a separate post in the coming weeks as I get a better understanding of the written script which is said to be so easy 2 year old Korean babies understand it. Korea does have a 99% literacy rate, so maybe they're onto something.
The second book I have yet to really crack open (maybe I'm a bit premature in writing about it then) but it can't be anything BUT useful. I bought Korean, At a Glance for $8 at a local Barnes & Noble. This book is no bigger than my hand and about two inches thick, and even comes with a removable plastic cover so it will most likely become a staple in my purse/bag for the next year.
The cover boasts that it has over 1500 phrases and expressions for everyday use, and is as well a useful dictionary. What I liked about it was the fact that it has a food section specifically to help decode menus, because that's not something found in most and will be something I will need in order to find sustenance.
Just from reading the first few pages, it gives an introduction into Hangul and uses English to sound out a word. Once I get further into this, I hope to at least go to Korea with SOME kind of understanding of how to speak, and/or read.
Maybe next I'll find some sort of Korean Fiction, or maybe Korean Lore, or something. Although maybe the next thing I should try and find are some teaching books, THOSE might come in handy. Keep a look out in my new BOOKS label on the sidebar.