Sunday, January 30, 2011

apartment and more...

Here's a video we posted on youtube from our first night in Korea.  Everything we have done so far has been so much fun and we love every bit of Korea.  We were told that our apartment is a lot bigger then most other teachers.  We are still waiting for other furniture to arrive because they still have some teachers on contract till the end of February.  We have cleaned up the apt, but we still need internet and curtains :(  We'll post some more videos when we have more time on the internet, but until then enjoy the video and Danelle's first experience flying.  

Danelle's first experience on a plane:

My first experience in an airport/plane was not at all what anyone had explained to me.  It was easy.  We took our bags and had to stand in line.  Once it was our turn to collect our tickets, we stepped up, said how many bags we had and weighed them.  The woman tagged our bags, gave us our tickets and we were on our way to another line.  The next line was for security.  We had time to have our shoes already off held our coats in our hands and were able to get our belongings put into the bins quickly.  We had a couple hours to just sit and wait for the plane.  The plane arrived and I had to take all kinds of pictures of the plane and a picture of us before we boarded.  We were in the back of the plane and with KoreanAir, those passengers board first.  We stepped onto the plane got our bags put up in the overhead compartment and took our seats.  The plane took a while to get into the air.  As soon as we started takeoff, it felt like we were being shot out of a gun.  It was quite the adrenaline rush. I really enjoyed that part.  There was a really rude man on the plane with us who slept halfway in the isle, hit on the flight attendants and was just disgusting! Chris had to sit across from him and he smelled of alcohol and BO.  They served us several snacks and drinks as well as two meals.  There were many options on the plane for entertainment during the long flight.  There were numerous movies to view as well as several games to play.  The was also a sky map that showed where we were, how long we had left to fly, how fast we were going, etc.  My favorite part of the flight was flying over the Russian desert, it was absolutely beautiful.  I had never seen a desert before in my life and I was just amazed. However, I doubt others on the plane appreciated it because most of them were trying to sleep.  That which I got little to none of, I could not sleep a wink.  For one, it is extremely difficult for me to sleep sitting up.  Too much of everything going on and I just couldn’t miss any of it.  We got to Korea and began to land.  This is where I started to feel awful.  I  thought I was going to be sick, I think this may have to do with the fact that it was around 2am US central time and 4pm South Korea time.
                We landed at Incheon Airport in South Korea and went through immigration services, which didn’t take very long.  (This whole time I felt miserable.)  Afterwards, we stood around the conveyer belt waiting to collect our bags, which took a while. This gave us a chance to catch our breath. Once we had our bags, we stopped at customs to turn in our cards and exchanged some currency before finding our driver.


Friday, January 28, 2011

We are here!

We just got here, but we have no internet.  We are at a local cafe and only have so much time to do stuff.  Just wanted to say we are safe and we'll be posting videos and more info about everything later. is not liking me being in korea for some reason, and blogger won't accept my video :(  16 hours in Korea so far and loving it! :D

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We leave Jan. 26th 11:30am from Chicago to go to Korea!!!! YAY we are so excited

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What we know before we go

We thought it would be fun to show what we know before we go over there, and then see if your first impressions live up to what we expect or know.

Where we are going to live? (picture from Wikipedia)

We are moving to Bundang, South Korea, which is a suburb of Seoul the capital. We are not sure of our Korean address yet, but we will be around here. Bundang is a city that has been built around 1989 because they wanted to spread out the population of Seoul which is around 10.5 million. The Korean government created several planned communities and Bundang is one of them. This city is around 450,000 people and was created with rows and rows of apartment buildings. Unlike the big city (Seoul), they planned more parks and green areas to allow for more activities outside. Bundang has a subway line which is attached to Seoul's Subway and there are buses to get there as well. From what we have heard its around 20-60 min to get to different places in Seoul, and around 30 min to downtown. From what we have read Seoul is surrounded by mountains which is exciting to wake up and see a beautiful backdrop everyday!

Where are we going to teach?

We will be teaching at a school called EtonHouse. It is a private preschool. The children range from ages 3-8 (2-7). The ages in parenthesis are how old we feel that they are. Danelle will be teaching the Nursery class (2 1/2 and 3 year old children). Chris will be teaching an older group of children, but we do not know which age group. The hours we will be working 9:30am to 4:30pm but we only work 30 hours per week. We will be teaching science, math, and english. With Chris having a degree in PE, they want him to start a PE program at the school. I have a minor in music and they want me to teach music for them.

We have read about how most of the food is excellent and some a little strange. We are very excited to get on the plane and test it all out for ourselves! Nearly a week left.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How we started off


With Just two weeks before we head over to Korea, we'll explain why and how we decided to teach English over there. I (Chris) wanted to work overseas because I love to travel and wanted to experience something that would be unique and fun. Danelle was a little more hesitant because she has never traveled outside of the US, but as the idea became more of a possibility she was more comfortable with the idea. Now she and I are both very excited to start our journey. Since we don't have any responsibilities yet, this was a great opportunity to do. This all started when I heard about all the teacher lay-offs across the country. I was scared to see all the teacher lay-offs so I wanted to find a job and get into a teachers pension as fast as possible before I would consider going overseas. After a long and tiring process of applying to over 120+ places around the country and almost getting a job in Anchorage, Alaska. I decided to try for a position overseas. I've researched this subject before because I thought this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity that would give us both a teaching experience and a wonderful adventure learning a new culture. After telling Danelle the plan, we decided to contact many different companies to see which agency we wanted to work with. The three main places we were thinking of going was China, Japan, and South Korea. The main reason we chose Korea was for safety. China, we were afraid of the government and possibly being censored. We've heard that there is racism towards Americans in Japan. As for Korea, all we knew was that we had a strong military presence and that they love Americans. So we went to the safety of our military and people who actually like us and decided to look into Korea.

Application Process

After getting e-mails back from different recruiters we found a great company called Adventure Teaching. I'll take a minute to explain everything about Adventure Teaching that we have come to know and love about them. They actually wanted an interview with us before even considering to post our information to possible schools in Korea. Through the whole process, they have been right there to help us in every step. As soon as we passed their interview, we started getting emails about getting our Visas processed and how soon we would prefer to start teaching. We are looking forward to how helpful they will be during our stay in Korea. We have been told that on a biweekly basis they will be contacting us to make sure we are adjusting well and to get us involved with other English teachers. We applied through their website and realized that we had to do a decent amount of research to see where we wanted to go because they ask our preference of place to go and school. So here's what we decided:

Schools: From what we researched Koreans are very education focused. We also heard that around the age of 3-4 kids have a text book in front of them and they are able to read it from cover to cover. They are very education focused and they are very eager to learn English because it's the international business language. From what we saw the only big difference in education is Kindergarten, besides that they have Elementary, Middle School, and High School.

Kindergarten: Kindergarten in Korea is not a publicly administered program. Parents send their children to private schools: most are taught in Korean, many of those have an English class, and some kindergartens are taught almost entirely in English. Kindergarten in South Korea is composed of children from ages three to seven, and then they will go to the next step in their education which is Elementary school.

We decided to request a Kindergarten/Elementary School level and we didn't care about a public or private setting. We also chose to be in/around Seoul because it was the capital of Korea and had the most events and opportunity for some interesting trips.

September 12, 2010

To end off the application process we had to send our resume and a cover letter. We had no clue, whether we should address it to Adventure Teaching or a possible school. So we decided to focus it on Adventure Teaching and see if we would be told to focus it to a Korean school later. Adventure Teaching was very proficient with their response and wanted an interview before they would accept us and help us find a job. After passing the phone interview we were told that we will have to start early with our paper work and not to expect job offers till the End of November.

Our Qualifications:

Chris: I'm a Physical Education graduate from Western Illinois University. I've developed and implemented a P.E. curriculum from a private christian school as a research project at school, and did student teaching. I have been a camp counselor for 5 years.

Danelle: I'm a Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration graduate from Western Illinois University. I spent two years at WIU in the Early Childhood Education, where I have learned a large amount of information about children birth-10. During those two years I spent a lot of time doing various observations and volunteer work in daycare and classrooms. This past summer I did my internship at a daycare where I had various positions including teaching in classrooms from infants to four year old children (I loved every minute).

Paper Work

Possibly the most frustrating part of our experience is all the leg work and money we had to spend before going to Korea. The few things that we had to do is:

  • Get a copy of our University Diploma (along with a Notarization and an Apostille)
  • FBI background check (takes 12 weeks along with Notarization and an Apostille)
  • Visa Application
  • E2 Health Statement
  • Consulate Check list
  • 4 copies of our transcripts
  • 4 passport photos
  • Around $200 to pay for different documents and Visa
Chris's painful experience with documents:

If your asking yourself what an Apostille is, well so did I until a long trial and error. An Apostille is an international notarization. So not only do we need a normal notarization, but an international one as well. I started off asking Adventure Teaching for help, so they lead me to the state website to find out where I can get one in Illinois. Since the state website is so helpful it basically told me I could get it anywhere. So I tried my local bank to get a notarization and see if they could do an Apostille as well, but they had no clue what it was. Strike 1. So I try another step up, I went to the County clerks office. So I drive up to Wheaton to the county clerks office and get lost. I ask someone and they tell me to go to the court office instead of the clerks office. After an 1 1/2 wait, I find out they have no clue what this is either. I ask for another place to go and they lead me to the clerks office. When I get there they told me "We don't do this here, here's a piece of paper." Strike 2.The paper had two addresses to get the Apostille, so I was off to Chicago. When I got to the address, it took me 10 minute and $4. Too bad to get into the city took me 1 hour and $10 in parking.

Danelle's painful experience with documents:

The FBI CRC (criminal record check) was my biggest issue. I was determine from the beginning that I was going to get my fingerprints and send them in right away. It takes up to twelve weeks for FBI to process your fingerprints. I highly suggest this to be the first thing that you do if you are interested in teaching overseas. In order to obtain a FBI background check, you must send in your fingerprints, a paper with your credit card information, and the Apostille request letter (whatever the Apostille was, haha as Chris already explained). First I decided to contact the State Police office in Macomb, and they told me that only county police do the fingerprints. So I drove to Macomb, got my fingerprints, typed up my credit card information and signed the letter. It cost around $25 to send 1st class mail to FBI. So everything else seemed to be going smoothly and I was nearing my twelve weeks. After nine weeks, I received something in the mail from the FBI and I was so excited, until I opened it... Inside the envelope was a letter and a new fingerprint sheet. The letter said that my fingerprints were not legible and I needed to resubmit. This was the second week in November and I knew there was no way that I would get my fingerprints before I had to leave. So I frantically called the FBI to find out what could be done to speed up the process. The first receptionist I spoke with told me that I was not the only person who needed a CRC and that I would have to wait a whole twelve weeks again. I got off the phone, shed some tears and called Chris. He said, "Call them back, I will take you there myself if I have to."(What a sweet boyfriend.) So I called again, the second receptionist told me to write on the outside of the envelope and that was the best I could do. I mentioned driving there and she told me that I wouldn't have been allowed in. So, went back and got my fingerprints again but this time had them checked by both McDonough and Knox County police (yes, I drove to Macomb and Galesburg the same day just to see that they looked accurate.) I called Adventure Teaching and they told me to speed up my Visa process, I could do a State CRC. This cost me another two weeks and $16, but it was worth it. I had to drive to Springfield to get my Apostille. This was simple and cost only $4 for 2 documents. I went to Macomb to find FedEx shipping, and found a private company that ships for FedEx, UPS and DHL. They charged me $75 to ship my documents overseas. Chris told me that his cost half that. Word of advice: Don't ship from a private company. So back to the FBI CRC, I called on January 4th and was told that my background check was complete and should take up to 7 days to send. My FBI CRC came in on January 12, 2011. The total amount of time it took for me to receive the CRC was 17 weeks. Nothing like last minute!

October 15, 2010

We were told we wouldn't hear from anyone till late November, but instead we get a wonderful E-mail from Adventure Teaching telling us we have a job to a School called EtonHouse. EtonHouse is located in Bundang, South Korea, a suburb of Seoul. This is a pre-school (Kindergarten I think) that focuses on Teaching English, Math and Science. After a wonderful interview experience with our soon to be boss Kaye, we got job offers. Even better, I was told that they wanted me to implement Physical Education and for Danelle to do some Music. This pre-school focus on a more western style of teaching where there is more socialization and play time. A normal Korean school has kids study, study, study and not focus on the simple things that kids like to do like play time. So we were asked to teach a lot of different subjects and a teaching style that we are both use too. This was such a great fit for Danelle because of her experience and I didn't know if I could find another school that would let me teach P.E. so we accepted the job.

January 5, 2011

Once our visa information had been sent to Korea, we had to wait for our Visa Identification Number (VIN). Adventure Teaching waited for both of our information before they processed it.
We received an email with our VIN numbers and had to contact the Korean consulate to schedule an interview. We were told that they could be done face to face or via webcam. We checked the location and had to go to Chicago for our interview and turns out they no longer do webcam interviews. The interview was set for the morning of January 5th. We had a list of things that we were supposed to bring along with us for this interview.

  • Visa Application
  • Resume
  • 1 sealed transcript
  • 1 Passport Picture
  • Passport
  • Copy of the Passport
  • Consul's Checklist
  • Health Form
  • $45 in cash or cashier's check
So it turns out that we didn't need the resume or the transcripts. Chris and I had a 9:45 interview and were confused that it was at the same time. The interview was in the NBC tower in Chicago and we were both very nervous about it. We ended up meeting another gentleman that was interviewing as well. When the receptionist came to for us to interview, she called all three of us at the same time. We interviewed together. We walked back to the consulate's office and he had us all sit on the same couch, side by side. He brought a chair over and asked us all what our New Year's resolutions were, where we attended college, our degrees, and what we plan to do in Korea. When he got to Chris' answer about his degree (physical education), the consulate stopped him. The consulate said "Oh, Physical Education, I have a bad back." He went on to explain that he had gone to the gym and supposedly pulled something in his back. So he asked Chris to teach him some stretches to help his back. Chris said that it would be easier to show him instead of telling him. Without a pause the consulate offered him the floor. Chris got down and showed him and few stretches and the man got down and mimicked the stretches. They both stood up and the consulate told us that we all passed. After that, he told us that we were to help him with some English that he was learning. He had several packets of political conversations that we read to him and had to explain what they meant. We came across a phrase about the "Grand Ole Opry." Chris said, "Danelle sang there." I explained that I didn't sing there, but I've been there and know a lot about country music. The consulate said "You sing?!? I have something for you." He grabbed a copy of the Star Spangled Banner and had me sing it to him. That was our interview....and we were nervous?!