The documents have been collected, the apostilles granted, and the contracts signed (twelve or thirteen times per copy). Everything has been sent off to Korea and has been certified as complete. So now I wait.
Overall, as I have talked to (aka: read comments on our Facebook group) people working with different agencies I have become more and more pleased with the experience I am having with Footprints Recruiting. They have been exceedingly professional and helpful since I began this process. They collected all of our documents up front and provided me with a fantastically detailed visa guide so that I knew exactly what needed to be done and how to get it done. And let me tell you…there was a lot to be done. But all that is behind me (for now) and we are just waiting for the Notice of Appointment to be sent out from the SMOE. Once we get that I can go about getting my visa and then my plane ticket.
It seems impossible that in almost exactly two months I will be getting on a plane and moving halfway around the world to South Korea. I am excited and nervous and god knows what else. Honestly I hadn’t given myself a chance to be nervous at all until the other day I was reading one of my favorite blogs from a teacher in Korea, who also happens to be A Geek in Korea. I love reading his blog because it is really honest, includes a lot of interesting (and often quirky) stories, and it has a lot of helpful teaching tips and strategies from someone “in the trenches.” Anyway, I was reading an old entry and it was the first truly negative one I had read on his site. I know that it was written at the end of a long day, and it was probably just the frustrated rantings that come out when the straw breaks the camel’s back, but it caught me off guard. I think the part of the entry that got to me the most was when he talked about going to eat lunch at the coffee shop. This is a guy who has lived and taught in Korea for multiple years, can speak and understand Korean in conversations, and is married to a Korean woman. And yet he hit the wall of frustration with having no one to talk to and share ideas with. “I’ve started leaving for lunch and working in coffeeshops because I can’t stand being with these noisy people. I also have no one to speak English to. They converse exclusively in Korean about boring Korean things like the beauty of different models. I’d rather spend 4,000 on some sweetened coffee and not have to deal with those topics of conversations. I miss having a foreign coworker to bounce ideas off of, or to blow off some stress with a complaint.” It is almost guaranteed that I will be the only native speaker English teacher (NSET) at my school. I know that I am pretty out-going and get along with a wide variety of people, but I do have moments of worry that I won’t find someone that I click with during that whirlwind first week of orientation and then I’ll be thrown into Seoul to fend for myself.
That is a scary thought. As much as I whole-heartedly look foward to immersing myself in another culture, I know I’ll need some people with common backgrounds to vent to and share experiences with. Hopefully this Facebook group will allow me to connect with some people before I leave so that we can form those bonds even quicker.
In other news, the title “Korean for Dummies” makes it sound significantly easier than it is. I can say “Hello” ("Annyong haseyo”…shout out to Arrested Development fans!), “Thank you” (”Kamsahamnida”), and I can count from 1-100 (which you’ll just have to trust me on). I can only say the names of the numbers in order fluently…if you ask me to translate a specific number it takes me a minute or two to figure out what it would be. But hey, it is a start…right?