Tuesday, 21 October 2014

From TEFL to the Language Show LIVE!

So on Saturday I attended the ‘Language Show Live’ at Kensington Olympia, London. This exhibition was for Students and Teachers a like to find out more about studying and teaching a range of different languages including our very own, English.

The TEFL section was particularly small and the seminars were more specific to teaching the exam side of things (on a specific programme), and did not cater for people (like myself) who just wanted to pick up a few teaching tips. All in all it wasn’t really that well programmed for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, however I did have an interesting conversation with a company called ‘Education First’.  The interesting thing about this company is that you can go off to China for a year or so and then come back to a secure Job in England, at least this is how they made it sound. I am actually considering this, as the thought of being able to come back and have a job here is extremely appealing. However, I haven’t really considered China as an option and I don’t really fancy it next to my beloved Korea if I’m honest. Either way it wouldn’t hurt to have a little meeting with them and look in to this a little more.

In other news this week I have received my documents back from the government, all notarised and aposilled which is great and took a lot less time then I imagined. I'll pop a little email over to the recruitment agent in the US, as its a good idea to stay in touch with them.

As I don’t have much else to report this week, I thought it would be a grand idea to attach some sites that I have found extremely useful through this process so far. So, if you are looking into doing a TEFL and packing up your entire life then have a little read of some of these fantastic and very informative blogs, sites and resources:


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

If no one hears a phone ring, then does it really ring?!

Yes, yes it does! As I soon found out this week when I had my first call from South Korea….and missed it! A lovely sounding Korean man left a lovely sounding voicemail in an almost robotic sounding American/Korean accent. He spoke with almost perfect English and told me that he had seen my resume and would like to speak with me about an opportunity that had arisen at his school in Seoul next year. He then followed this with… I will email you the details and try to arrange a better time to talk.

The only problem being is that he didn’t leave his name and I couldn’t make out the schools name either. A day later and I still haven’t received his email. I have contacted my recruitment agent but as yet she has not responded. I am in London, England. My agent is in the good ole USA, and the man that left a voicemail (I.E the potential employer) is in Seoul, South Korea. It is hard enough trying to get in touch with people in the same time zone as you, but trying to liaise with 3 different countries is proving difficult to say the least. Hopefully I will hear from him again soon via email and I guess I could ring back but then what would I say? I do not know ANY Korean and do not have his name, I am also slightly reluctant to spend £5000 (estimate) on a phone call to South Korea. Terrible rates…I’m not calling the moon for Pete sake!
 Very different places as you can see!
Excitement fills my thoughts to the brim, but I am also aware of the absolute terror that soon dawns upon me at the exact same time. Especially as I have been told that it may actually be sooner than my expected departure date, which is quite daunting. This was also the first day that my profile had been live, which is of course a good thing as it means people are still interested despite the horrendous video CV I made of myself. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I had previously thought! Self-criticism is a tragic thing! HECK!

In the last couple of weeks the waiting game finally came to an end (sort of) as I could send off for my Disclosure Scotland Check AGAIN and once again start the document process. This has now been delivered to my solicitors and is currently undergoing notarisation. My solicitor Alison (remember her?) will also be sending this off to the government to get it apostilled which saves me the bother thankfully. Lovely Alison, always helping out the small ‘guy’. She will send this off this week so I should expect to get my documents back within 6 to 8 weeks…hopefully.

I hope this blog isn’t coming across as the most boring thing you have ever read, but I feel it is important to give as much information as possible which unfortunately requires me talking about the dull paper work involved as well as the fun times ahead…and of course there will be fun times ahead (I hope). Here’s a video of a cat playing a piano whilst cracking a nut and wearing a bright green T. 
All in all, this week has actually been quite productive but as the weeks go by and I feel ever closer to going, the panic starts to set in. Leaving the place I have laid my 17 hats for such a long time will no doubt be the most difficult challenge ahead, of this crazy, and epic new journey.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Say NO to waiting...

If you know me, and I mean really know me, then you’ll know that I dislike 3 things in life. Waiting, long goodbyes and waiting for long goodbyes. At the moment I feel like all I am doing is waiting, and especially waiting for goodbyes, which funnily enough makes them LONG.

 I am now at the point of breaking. Waiting is driving me slightly crazy and if I have to wait any longer then I will surely forget how to physically move all together. It is as if I am stuck in a huge que at a supermarket, or a theme park, or better yet a doctor’s surgery, just waiting for my time to come around so I can get on with things and MOVE. Days, weeks and even months will go by and I will still be sat here, waiting, or at least that’s how it feels. So yeah, I pretty much HATE waiting.

At the moment I am actually just waiting for the time to pass so that I can once again order my Disclosure Scotland check, and once again send this off to my solicitor Allison, and then of course, to the government.  As I have mentioned before, and as I will mention again, it is important to get the timing of your documents just right. You do not want to be too late ofcourse, but you also do not want to be too early, otherwise you will have to spend out even more money in applying for things all over again. This is the case with my Disclosure Scotland check, so please PLEASE bear this in mind if you are going through this process. Trust me, it will save you a hell of a lot of time and a hell of a lot of money. As I am spending most of my time waiting, this has also led me to spend a ridiculously large amount of time, thinking. Yes, thinking. I thought I’d mention this as no other blogs that I have read seem to. 

Doubts. You will have doubts and it is perfectly normal to have them. This is something that anyone making such a dramatic change in their life will face. Is this the right thing to do? Am I making the wrong decision? Should I just stay here and pursue other interests? And probably the most daunting and doubt provoking question of all… what will I do when I come back? Also the question of what happens if I don’t like it, make no friends and ultimately want to sulk into my own pillow every night for pure dread of doing it all over again the next day. THAT’S IT I’M STAYING! ….No, no you are not.

I have been having these thoughts a lot lately, and many doubts but mainly because I don’t really want to leave the convenience of my comfortable and stable life here in London, and of course my wonderful Family and Friends. But, I have been re-assured by many people that it is perfectly natural to have these such doubts, so if you are feeling the same then I recommend reading more books about your chosen destination, or taking up a new hobby or a new course even. Waiting can be a terrible activity, especially if you’re slightly impatient like myself, when it comes to waiting that is.

So my advice: Fill the waiting time as much as you can, and do not doubt that you will have these doubts themselves. It will happen, and it will be horrific. But just remember, you started this journey for a reason. So say yes to life and continue what it is, that you want to continue.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The word 'Busy' doesn't even cut it!

As promised I thought I’d write a little post about the dreaded Recruitment Agencies. Last week I signed up to two different sites to help me in my quest for a new and hopefully rewarding job, and life in South Korea. I found these by literally google’ing everything. Seriously, I googled ‘Teaching in South Korea’, ‘Recruitment agencies for short people’ and even ‘I would like a job in South Korea…SEND HELP’! As you can imagine everything from the appropriate to the less so came up. Thankfully I also had a couple of recommendations through friends and the various different blogs I have been reading.

With so many different options however, it can seem like an absolute minefield and can be very difficult to know which one to go with, which is why I thought I'd write this little post to try and make it all a bit clearer. I’d say that the most important thing to bear in mind whilst doing your research is just that…do your research! Do it and then do it all over again. Read everything and then read everything all over again. Look at different reviews and read everything on their site TWICE! I cannot stress this enough, as it is extremely important to know exactly what you are signing up to, and on that note DO NOT PAY! A legitimate and trusted agency will receive their payment from the school in question, so if you have to pay then it’s probably not a very legitimate company and they probably do not have your best interests in mind. Remember as with everything in this venture, if something sounds too good to be true - then it probably is.

After hours and even days of searching the internet, my eyelids felt like they would never be able to close again. All I was seeing was a brightly lit computer screen, but eventually I was able to regain some sense of focus and made a decision to go with a recruitment agency called Teacheslkorea. They are an American based company who had been recommended to me by a friend who is currently teaching in South Korea. Having read through the information on their site, I decided that this was the one for me.

So far they have been absolutely fantastic. They have talked me through everything from the visa requirements, right through to which school would be right for me, and have also helped me gain a better understanding of prioritizing documents in regards to the time restrictions they each have. For example, my Scottish Disclosure (CRB check) is only valid for 6 months, which I found out the hard way. The Korean Embassy will only except these within this 6 month period, which means I have had to apply all over again for a new one. So my advice - do not apply for this too early, BUT do not apply too late, as it can take up to 6 weeks to come through, and then you have to get it apostilled of course.

I also chose to go with a second recruitment agency called Flying Cows, who have so far been less than helpful (if indeed there is anything less than that). They seemed to slightly ignore my location request, stating that there are currently no jobs in South Korea but China on the other hand have plenty. Who said anything about China?! They then went on to tell me that they have a suitable job starting NEXT WEEK, and I don’t need any documents and can leave straight away. Really?! 

It was slightly frustrating as I wasn’t looking to move to China in the first place, and I certainly didn’t want to rush into anything. It seemed as if I was just a huge lump of cheese casually moving along a conveyer belt with all the other lumps in line, waiting to be processed and packaged. Whereas Teacheslkorea, told me to aim for a February/March starting time, and ensured me that they would be concentrating on finding a job and location that was absolutely right for me. Once again do your research guys, it certainly pays off.

This week I also had the painstakingly unpleasant experience of moving house, which actually wasn't too bad thanks to some amazing friends and family of mine. I feel at this point it is important to mention that the day to day business of life does still go on, so you have got to be prepared during your TEFL experience to work extremely hard in all aspects of your life, which unfortunately includes mundane things like moving house. The word 'Busy' doesn't even cut it...

Until next time...

Monday, 25 August 2014

Docu...what now?! Oooh documents!

Wow, what a week it has been. I am pleased to say that I have now entered the next stage of my TEFL experience and am therefore one step closer to moving to South Korea. Whoooopi! Let me tell you about it....

...not about Whoopi Goldberg silly.

After completing the course, I received my TEFL certificate in the post on Thursday, coincidentally the same day as my 29th (oh dear) Birthday, which was an extra little treat. Shiny and new like the life I hope to be leading far away in Asia, it looked up at me like a small smiling lamb, happy to be alive after just missing the butchers slaughter knife...Phew! It is now 100% official, and I have a lovely reference letter to prove it as well. This was a major accomplishment and one that I would happily do all over again if given the time and patience. I am actually considering doing another 30 hour Teaching Young Learners course to bump up my CV, and also to gain some more experience before going away, so watch this space.

Next on the list was notarising my degree. ‘Whats that Sarah?’ I hear you all ask with anticipation and wonderment. Well, let me tell you...as I intend to teach in South Korea I need a little thing called a Degree. Fortunately I was lucky enough to have completed one of these many moons ago in my youth, so all I needed to do now, was to prove that it was REAL! In order to do this I needed to seek the help of a solicitor, which is where Alison came in. Alison, the solicitor (we’re already on first name basis) came to my rescue and took a copy of my Degree along with my Disclosure Scotland certificate (which is basically a Criminal Records Check). I don’t think that you actually need to get your Disclosure Scotland notarised but she was only charging a small amount extra so I decided to go ahead regardless. 

These documents are part of what you need in order to get a Visa in South Korea. It doesn’t have anything to do with the School you end up at, it is just necessary for the Korean Embassy upon acquiring your Visa. So, it is best to get these done nice and early so I am ready to proceed whenever that time will inevitably arrive. These documents are currently being notarised by the lovely Alison as we speak (or you read). Once she has done so, I can then send them off to the Foreign Commonwealth Office to get the documents apostilled. Which is basically a further check to show that they are definitely the real deal. Alison very kindly offered to do this for me (over a cup of tea no less), so I will probably take her up on that to save some time. Obviously she asked for a small fee but since we are basically family now, I thought best to go ahead and accept her offer. Thanks Ally!

You're doing it again...she is sadly not Alison Moyet!

Another milestone that was achieved this week, was the horrendous process of filming a video of myself telling the whole of YouTube why I would like to teach in South Korea. This was a mind boggling activity and took me the best part of 5 hours to complete. Self criticism is the worst, and I have never experienced it to such an extent when filming myself 5000+ times! I do not want to look at this face for at least a week! Terrible...and if you want to see it then you'll just have to waste the best part of an hour trying to find it! Good Luck!

Once this was completed I could finally sign up to a recruitment agency. Which is what I have done today...

Next time on ‘In Pursuit of Pavements’: Recruitment Agencies! Who to go with, who I went with, and the ins and outs of MOVING HOUSE!

Stay tuned...

Sunday, 17 August 2014

A roller coaster ride of emotions...

To say that this week hasn’t been extremely difficult would be similar to saying that pigs can actually fly. I have however achieved quite a lot and in turn probably grown a little too - although not literally, when that will happen is still a mystery. I finally after what seemed like years, but in reality was actually more like a couple of days, received my results from my TEFL course. I am pleased to say that I have successfully passed the course and am now a qualified English teacher (as a foreign language). It has all been utterly worth it, and I can not express my gratitude to tefl.org, and the lovely people it has enabled me to meet and work with enough. I was so pleased to have finished the course, but it suddenly all dawned upon me...what next?

Of course the next thing is to actually start applying for jobs in South Korea, and it soon became apparent that this was all just a little bit too realistic for me. Yesterday morning as I was packing away my tiny life into similar size boxes, I stopped for a moment and thought about the events of the previous week. Whilst looking at a chair that I have carried around with me from place to place for the last 9 years, I thought about one of my closest friends that has just left the country this week for an unknown period of time, I thought about the books, DVD’s, ornaments and of course hundreds of photographs that I have been surrounded by for many years. I then turned my attention to the future and what it may bring. Leaving my home that I have had five wonderful years in was one thing, but leaving my friends and family would be quite another. It all got a bit to much and of course a small break down was inevitable, however after a good hug, a splash of water and a nice cup of coffee, I regained some sense of awareness and a realisation of why I wanted to do this in the first place.

Not quite all of my belongings...

I can't seem to shake the thoughts of travelling and living in a different country off, so how ever difficult this will be, and how ever many things I have to leave behind, I am sure that it will all be worth it in the end. If I can forget these doubts and remain positive this could be one of the greatest adventures. After feeling a severe lack of self confidence, I pack away the last book on the shelf which is ironically called ‘How to be Good’ by Nick Hornby. Classic.

I dust myself off and successfully manage to sort my possessions out into some sort of order, and I can now focus on the next stage of this journey: Recruitment Agencies. After reading many different articles, blogs and watching thousands of YouTube videos I have come to the conclusion that I should really go with an agency for my first job in South Korea. I have heard many good things about teacheslkorea and flying cows, so initially I think I will apply to one of these. It is of course possible to join more than one agency, but just so I don't become to overwhelmed, I think for now I will just focus on the one. I also need to make a highly amusing ‘video CV’ of myself, which I am sure you can not wait to see...although I think I may keep this one for my personal collection. 

However, before I can think about putting any of these plans into action, I first need to make one of the most important decisions of this morning...tea, or coffee?!

Always Coffee, lots and lots of COFFEE! ...Goooood morning London!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Did you just say South Korea?!

Let me start by taking you back to May this year, when I made a conscious decision to pursue other pavements in far away places. Big, small, old and new, most of the world is covered in these things and I came to the conclusion that I would like to walk upon their paths. The realisation of space being nothing more than just air, that is completely up to me to fill, made me want to take up a whole new concept that would inevitably alter everything that I was familiar with, and allow me to basically, see the world. Having made the difficult decision to do this, I now find myself upon this new journey where I wish to experience something new, something unfamiliar, and something that I can look back on and know that I have made the most of every opportunity I could have. 

The concept in question was a TEFL course that I am pleased to say I have just completed, and this will hopefully become my passport to the world. TEFL for those of you that do not know stands for ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’. The course itself was brilliant, and I urge anyone thinking of doing it, whether you would like to teach abroad, or to just simply gain a better understanding of your own language to (as the popular shoe brand of Nike once said) ‘just do it’! It has opened up so many doors to me, some of which I wasn't even aware existed and although it can be tough going, it is totally worth it in the end. This is what I now hope to do in either South Korea or Japan. Yes, teach!

The difference between the two countries varies significantly, and if I am honest I think I will have a greater adventure in South Korea, so I will be concentrating my search here. From what I have read, the people, the food and the overall impression I get of South Korea is that it is a friendly, safe and utterly beautiful country that has in the past had a tough time in the public eye. It is a completely different culture to that of my own, and this is what appeals to me the most. Plus I’ve heard that they have the most delicious cuisines around, all of which I will of course be documenting throughout my journey. As my journey has already begun here is one of the many things I will miss about the UK. An English delicacy (if you can call it that)...

The classic English Breakfast! YUM!
I will soon be boarding the ‘train of change’ and starting my search, which I am sure will be another learning curve that I will hopefully be successful in. The path on which I now find myself on is ever changing. Day by day, new experiences that I have, enable me to leap into a world that has endless options and opportunities. So here I am telling you my story complete with beginning, middle but no end, and hoping that you enjoy reading my restless pursuit to saying YES to life.

To be continued...

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