Beaches, Rain and Apartment Photos

It has been a few days since my last post. Sunday the 22nd, Kevin and I headed out to Bukbu Beach to do some slacklining/exploring. We first stopped by this little Coffee/Bread place called “Sweet Step”. I am beginning to love that place, I have stopped there everyday since I’ve been here, haha. I got a french toast sandwich, which was awesome (there was ham, cheese and sweet pickles in it, different, but good).

We took the bus to downtown, once you have a bus card, it’s only about 1,000 won a trip (about $1). Our friend Nida was on the bus and helped us figure out what stop to go to and after about 20 minutes we were at the beach!

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It was a little dark out and looked like it might rain, but who cares I am by the sea! I don’t remember the last time I was at a beach, we were excited! Below is a picture of POSCO, it is a steel mill a pretty big mill, I think the 6th largest producer of steel in the world. Also, notice the elaborate life guard chairs.Image
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We found an over hang to set up the slackline between two poles and then this happened……….

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Just an absolute downpour, luckily we were at least under a little bit of cover, didn’t help too much, but we at least didn’t get drenched. Dried off and headed back to the bus stop to head back to the apartment. Speaking of apartment, probably time for some pictures of our first apartment (apparently we are moving to a bigger place in a couple weeks).
Entryway:
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“Kitchen”:

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Bathroom: Unique thing about Korean bathrooms, notice there appears to be no shower stall or shower curtain, well…the whole bathroom becomes the shower,haha. If you look on the upper left of the picture, you will see the shower head attached to the sink. It’s a little weird, but I’m getting used to it quickly, just can’t leave your towel on the towel rack or it will get soaking wet.
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Our amazing shoe closet that is located in the entry way, I’m actually kind of impressed that we brought this many pairs of shoes with us.Image
There are few things about the apartment that are different in both good and bad ways. We have a washer in the apartment! First time in years I’ve had a washer right in the house, however, there are no dryers in Korea apparently, we just have a hanging rack to dry clothes on. So far it hasn’t been an issue (we just have to make sure laundry doesn’t pile up). There is no microwave and no oven…we have a stove top, but ovens are another thing that are rare in Korea (microwaves are easy enough to just buy). Storage space….it does not exist in this apartment, I’m currently living out of my suitcase and our luggage is just in random parts of the apartment, hopefully when we move we will get a little more space.

Day on my Own:
Kevin started work and I have started to have a lot of time to myself. So yesterday I decided to try to walk downtown just following the bus route. I did not have a bus map with me and had follow bus stop signs and make sure I was on the right path. I did make it downtown, but the beach seemed far and I didn’t want to get lost, so I hopped the bus that I knew would get me to the beach. Running along the beach at sunset was amazing and I also walked out to a little pagoda time area and just listened to the sea for a bit. Here are some pictures of that awesome outting.
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The Epic Journey from Indianapolis to Pohang

Kevin and I have finally arrived in Pohang, have settled into our apartment and now have an internet connection! Time to recap what has happened in the past 70 hours, or something like that (I’ve lost all track of time).

3:00am EST
We wake up at Kevin’s parents’ house and prepare to head to the airport.

4:30am EST
We arrive at the airport and report to check-in. This process was so much easier/faster than I ever imagined. Weighing the bags before we got to the airport was genius (shout out to Ryan and Katie Sawrie for lending us their weight handle!). All our bags were at the 49lb mark, no extra fees. After a heartfelt good-bye to the Sawrie parental units, it’s onto the security checkpoint, which turned out to be easy-breezy as well.Image
We didn’t have to take off shoes, belts, or take anything out of our bags (thank you TSA for starting to once again make the process easy on all of us). That’s about where the easy breezy process ends for us….for a while.

5:52 am EST
This is when our plane is to begin boarding, of course there is a thunder/lightening/downpour going on directly over Indianapolis, which means delays (we only have a 40 minute window in Chicago to make our flight…time is winding down). We are informed that the Indy airport is grounded, nothing coming in our out for at least an hour. Then another hour….

8:30am EST
Still in the Indianapolis airport, waiting. An announcement is made, we are going to start boarding, HOORAY! Perhaps we can somehow make the connecting flight in San Francisco (I don’t think I mentioned this, but the Chicago O’hare airport has also been grounded this whole time as well, because of the storm) Yes, this is it, we are all on the plane, seats in upright positions and everything. Captain comes on the intercom, obviously frustrated with the situation (did you know they don’t get paid unless they fly? So essentially when they are stuck on the ground, they are working for free? He deemed it necessary to divulge that info to us) and says we are going to have to get off the plane.Image
Very excited to have BMO along for this whole adventure!

9:00am EST
We de-board. Okay this is going to get really long so here is the short of it. We finally taxi out to the run way around 10:30am and then wait there for an hour. On our way out there we did get to see a plane on fire though! Calm down, it was just a fire department exercise, but they were some huge flames.

11:40am EST
We are in the air on the way to Chicago, only 5 hours later than originally intended (total time at Indianapolis airport…7 hours). Once we get to Chicago we must race to our protected flight (back up flight in case we didn’t make the other one…which we didn’t). As we are getting our boarding passes, the flight starts boarding. I run and get some sandwiches that ended up costing almost $20!

12:05 pm CT
Seated on a direct flight to Tokyo, a 14ish hour flight. I won’t bore you with details, it was a lot of sleeping, reading, watching movies and standing up to do squats/ stretches (apparently Kevin and I are the only people who do that last one).

??? pm Time Zone?
I start to mix up time zones at this point, but I’m pretty sure it was at least 4:00am EST, so 5 or 6pm Japan time. Quick transfer in Japan and then 2 hour flight to Seoul.

9:30pm KST (Korean Standard Time)
We arrive in Seoul, lots of people, we take a crowded train, go through immigration, find out Kevin’s suitcase of all his clothes has been lost and we also missed the last bus to Pohang. We ended up staying in a guest house, which was actually an awesome deal. Only 50,000 Won (about $50 USD) for a room with 3 beds, TV, Shower, shampoo, tooth paste, tooth brushes, water and a ride to and from the airport.

8:00am KST
We went back to the airport in the morning to catch the 8:50 bus to Pohang, it was a limousine bus, incredibly comfortable and spacious. The bus ride was approximately 4.5 hours, which put us in Pohang at 1:30 pm or so.

Our director, Linda, met us at the bus station, thank goodness, we would have been scrambling and lost with no wifi and no phones. She took us to the apartment, showed us the school and also took us out to lunch.

Later, Kevin and I hit up an E-Mart (kind of like Wal-mart) and met up with Nida, a girl from South Africa who has been teaching english at another school in E-dong (that is apparently the name of the area where we live). She took us out for dinner and also showed us around some places and helped us get a bus card.

Tomorrow the plan is E-Mart, beach, and slack lining. Kevin starts teaching on Monday! I get a little more time to acclimate and prepare for school. I promise more pictures from now on, hauling around a ton of luggage and taking pictures is difficult and somehow we were always in a rush, haha. Time to slow it down!

Got the Visas and had a good time in Chicago

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Successful trip to Chicago to celebrate our one year anniversary and also to pick up our visas. It feels so good to have that all taken care of. We have 11 days until we are leaving the country, our time is flying here in the US.

Picking up our visas was a piece of cake compared to when we first dropped off our applications. I definitely recommend getting a prepaid envelope to turn in at the Embassy with your application though. Also need to make sure it’s either just pre-stamped at the post office or print out your own fed ex label ahead of time, it will save you a whole lot of headache.

With our passports and visas ready to go, now comes the awesome part….packing. Time to look into lists of “what to pack for Korea”. I have heard that lots of clothes and shoes are necessary, since on the whole Koreans tend to be smaller than Americans.

11 days and counting, we are very excited!

Deciding to move to South Korea

When we first decided to move to South Korea, it felt like we had so much time to get ready. Now here we are with only 1 month and a few days until we actually depart the USA.

Over the next few posts I would like to explore the reason we chose South Korea and the process we have gone through to secure jobs.

Why would we want to teach in South Korea?
Asia is a part of the world I have never been to (not that I am well traveled, but I have been to the Caribbean and Germany) and South Korea seemed to offer the greatest benefits. Benefits such as a free place to stay (no rent), paying for the flight to/from Korea, and also the cost of living in South Korea is pretty low (I’ll have a better idea about the cost of living once we actually arrive in Korea).

Why Pohang?
Kevin has a friend living in South Korea already who suggested we check out Pohang for jobs. It is a city of about 500,000 and is on the coast. Kevin and I had decided at the beginning of our search that we did not want to live in Seoul (not that Seoul isn’t amazing, we definitely intend to visit and will dedicate a post about it) because it probably the closest we could be to a large group of expats and Americans. We are really wanting to experience the smaller city, plus….beaches!

Before the job search even began…I took a TESL course through Oxford seminars (a lot of South Korean schools don’t require a TESL certification, but I feel like it prepared me more and looks good on the resume). Both Kevin and I already had some background in teaching kids. Kevin worked with kids at a camp during the summers and I had music teaching experience, as well as some tour guide experience. It seems a lot of job offers will say that you don’t need any experience, but they really like to hear about your experience with kids.

To teach in Korea you also need a 4 year college/university degree. It really doesn’t matter what your major was, but if you are an Education major, you will probably have more opportunities (I stress that you don’t need an Education major, but if you took ANY education classes in college, put that on your resume). Basically, if you worked with kids or have experience with education, in any capacity, put that on the resume (unless it was a situation that ended poorly…you may want to keep that bit of information to yourself, haha).

VISA Documents (we did this before the job search had really started)
There are a few documents that the Korean school will require for you to get your work visa:

Copy of Diploma, notarized and apostilled (Helpful Link: http://marshalljonesjr.com/how-to-get-an-apostille-for-your-degree/)
FBI Background check,apostilled, you’ll have to get  your fingerprints done for this (Here is a helpful link: http://marshalljonesjr.com/apostilled-fbi-background-check-for-teaching-esl-in-korea/)
2-6 Passport sized photos (We got these done at a CVS)
Sealed Transcripts (just email your college, there is a usually a standard way to request these transcripts)
Contracts and Health forms (provided by Korean school)

When you send the visa documents over, I suggest using FedEX. Before you go to fedex though be prepared to spend about $80 on shipping an envelope with your documents. Also, make sure you have the postal code where you are trying to send it (trust me, it will make FedEx feel a lot less stressful, haha). Also, you will probably want to send it International Priority.

Please feel free to email me about any of these processes

How to get the job…
We started our actual job search after we had all our visa documents ready to go. Now, I had to work around leaving when my lease was up, when I was able to quit my job and when I had enough savings to carry me through the transition.

I approached the search knowing I wanted to leave at the end of august and could leave no earlier than that. I used primarily Dave’s ESL Cafe to search for jobs, there is a Korean job board on there. We started the search in May and didn’t find our job until August. Don’t get discouraged or anything, sometimes schools don’t need to fill spots until a few weeks before the term starts.

We are very happy to have found a job. Look for posts becoming more about preparing to leave the states, arrival in South Korea, and living abroad! Please email pohangadventure@gmail.com if you have any questions for us!