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Finding a New Adventure in South Korea

Updated on December 22, 2012

Aspiring ESL Teacher in Seoul

Last week, I celebrated my twenty-fourth birthday. It should have been a happy occasion; however with the Sandy Hook shooting occurring the day before, I was in no mood to celebrate. Such a tragedy deserves a rightful period of respectful mourning whether you knew an affected family member or not. This truly opened my eyes to how short life is and why we need to treasure each moment on this Earth we have. Despite the fact that I have graduated from college and have a happy relationship I have noticed I have been feeling lost lately. I don't seem to have the sense of passion and drive that I once did. I am sure this is because acting jobs in the small town I live in aren't plentiful. Also I always get bored remaining in such small towns with nothing to do. With all of these thoughts bouncing around in my head I decided it was time to do something for myself while giving back to others. That is why I decided to apply to teach English in South Korea next year.

Since graduation I have gone through the same struggles every new graduate faces with trying to find a job in such a limited market. Small towns and jobs definitely do not go hand in hand. Despite the fact that I have always had excellent academic standing, volunteer work, and work experience these are not helpful in today’s job market. For the past year I have been bouncing between temp positions to make money while living at my parent's home. Of course I am glad to keep my mother company, but I long for independence and new things. My relationship is a happy one, but my significant other is relatively successful and I long to feel the same sense of achievement. When I saw the ad to teach English in South Korea I felt like someone had given me a sign. I have always been interested in South Korean culture since I grew up with a few friends of Korean heritage. Hearing them speak of their background sparked my interest immediately and this fascination has stayed with me to this day. The idea of helping children achieve their language goals is amazing.

Last month I made the decision to apply for TEFL or Teaching English to Foreign Learners course. This course gave me the fundamentals of teaching English to students in South Korea. While my bachelor's degree in Theatre, public schools in South Korea only require a four year degree and a 120 hour TEFL/TESOL certification. Some places do not even require a TEFL/TESOL certification, but I wanted to be prepared to teach students properly. I am not in the mindset of going to South Korea to party like I have come to discover many choose to do. The idea of teaching children is much more appealing. I am not a prude or anything, but partying 24/7 just isn’t my thing. That being said I passed my course with flying colors. This month I was able to apply for my recruiter that will organize my application and coordinate my interviews with specific programs and schools. I was nervous for my initial interview with my recruiter, but it went very well and she liked my bubbly personality. Initially I had planned to apply to go through the GEPIK program, but I was advised to go big and go for the SMOE program which consists of schools in Seoul, South Korea.

Last week I also went to apply for my passport which felt awesome, because I know I am taking steps towards something great. Since I am an over achiever I created an introduction video, wrote my application essay, and created my lesson plan beforehand. Now, I am just waiting to hear back if there is anything that needs corrected. Then the very long process will begin. It will take months for me to get my FBI background check, apostille stamp, letters of recommendation, visa application, etc. This is why I chose to apply over six months earlier than the requirement! Despite the fact that it is a long process, I know ultimately I will feel a sense of success, happiness, and adventure once I touch down in Seoul. I will keep everyone updated and go more in depth on the process in future hubs. Stay tuned!


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    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 5 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      Best of luck, and I wish you an amazing time! Teaching EFL is a lot of fun, albeit challenging at times! Elementary school kids have a lot of energy, and love physical activities.

    • everythingdazzles profile image

      Janelle 5 years ago from Houston

      Oh trust me I am steering clear of Hagwans! I am going for public school specifically an elementary level.

    • Aussieteacher profile image

      Di 5 years ago from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

      Good luck. South Korea is an amazing place. I was there in 2009, and had many interesting adventures there. I hope you find a good place - some of the hagwans can be difficult and teachers can be exploited. I wish you well. (I was in Jeonju)