1. Why South Korea?
The recruiting agency we applied with (Aclipse) places teachers all over Asia; schools in Japan and China were full. We have the option to relocate after our initial contractual obligations are met. Thankfully, North Korea was not an option.
2. Where in South Korea are you going?
Chung-Dahm Learning Center has ten branches in the Seoul area, and though we know we will be in Seoul, we do not know which branch we will be teaching at or in which district we will be living. These details will be determined during orientation.
3. Do you speak Korean?
– Not at all. In the classroom, we will not be required to speak Korean. The students are to speak exclusively in English. If they speak to us in Korean we are to tell them we do not speak Korean and to please address us in English. On the other hand, I plan to learn as much Korean as I can, starting with basics, like “hello,” “my name is ___,” “I’m sorry,” “How much…” and “where’s the bathroom,” as those seem like crucial things to be able to say. Further, I don’t wish to be an arrogant American who expects everyone around them to accommodate them.
4. How long will you be there?
– We have a twelve-month contract that automatically renews unless we give 45-day notice.
5. Do you have a place to live?
-Not yet. During orientation we will be assigned a branch to teach at, a place to live within 10 minutes travel time of that branch, and cell phones. We will also have the opportunity sign up for such benefits as health insurance.
6. How much will you be paid?
As hourly employees we stand to make more money than salaried employees, though we will be responsible for our housing costs.
7. What’s the weather/climate like?
-Very similar to the mid-west; hot and humid in the summer, wet and cold in the winter (lots of snow). When people learn that we are from Kansas they generally tell us that S. Korean weather won’t throw anything our way that we haven’t already experienced. Obviously, the further north one goes, the colder the winters. Remember, Korea is a peninsula.
8. When are you leaving?
-Hopefully around the 24th of August (our departure date has been set back a couple of times due to VISA issues – see my blogs on VISA debacles)
9. What can you take with you?
-Two fifty-pound bags (check in), one twenty-five pound carry-on and one personal item.
10. What are you doing with all your stuff?
-We have sold nearly everything we own through a series of yard sales and numerous listings on craigslist. What we have left, which consists primarily of personal items that have sentimental value, is being stored in a 4X6 storage unit.
11. What are you going to do about your pets?
-Akira, our dog, is living as a “foster” dog in a very loving environment and has a foster sister, Frannie (pictures to follow). We will continue to keep in touch with Akira and pay for his vet bills as needed. He will live with us again some day.
-Baby Girl, our cat, has found permanent residence in a home with other cats. I have no doubt she will be thoroughly spoiled (and I’d have it not other way). Her new name is Princess Anabelle.
12. What do your families think of you moving out of the country?
-As might be expected, our families feel a little conflicted. They are happy for us and excited that we are answering this call for adventure. I think it’s also safe to say that they are very proud of us and rather relieved that we will have each other to rely on while taking on this challenge. In tandem with these positive feelings though, are feelings of sadness that we will be so far away, sadness that they won’t be able to talk to us anytime they want or see us several times a year as they can now (we plan to get a skype account). Above all, they love Gary and me dearly and support our decisions.
13. Are you worried about war?
-Of course. Everyone is worried about war. That our proximity to North Korea will be greatly reduced is obviously a point of concern; no one wants to live in a war zone. But living in fear that some un-name-able tragedy might occur has never been my style and I’m not about to begin now. I live my life regardless of world politics and threats of nuclear testing or war. Besides, those North Korean missils are aimed at American soil. (As reassurance to my readers, we will be registered with the American embassy in Seoul in case evacuation of expatriates is required. I have also subscribed to the US State Departments e-newsletter alerts. Finally, I have no intention of wandering into North Korean territory in a journalistic endeavor to cover some sensitive political issue.)
I will post more FAQs and their answers as I collect them.