My journey officially started in October of 2021. That was when I made the decision to apply for CIEE’s TEFL Certification and Teach in South Korea Program. I remember the deadline being at the end of December so I had plenty of time to gather everything I needed for the application. This was perhaps the easiest part of this ten-month long preparation, but it did take a bit of effort. Some of the required documents I had to update and upload like my resume and letters of recommendation took a couple of weeks each. However, by the end of October I had everything in and just had to await CIEE’s decision to bring me in.
On January 27th I was officially accepted into the program. This didn’t quite mean I was going to Korea just yet, but it did mean I was going to enroll in an official TEFL Certification class and work with recruiters to match me up with a job eventually. This was exciting news! There were several different start dates to pick from for the TEFL course and I got started right away with the soonest start date available.
My TEFL course started on Valentine’s Day and lasted until May 1st! During this time, I was also working full time at my local plant nursery. My TEFL course ended up being super helpful and a lot of fun, but it was also definitely a bit of work too. It’s definitely more manageable if you’re able to work on it a little bit each night rather than do the whole week’s assignments on one day.
While working on my teaching certification, I was also able to get started on some of the documentation I would eventually need to get my visa. The two most important documents were a notarized & apostille copy of my Bachelor degree and an apostille background check. I was told it was important to get these signed, stamped, and uploaded as soon as possible because it can seriously hold up the process if you don’t have them. So, I took this to heart and had all of my documents sent out by the end of March and I got them back by mid-April.
I also started the job search process at the very end of March by sending the recruiters my school placement preferences and resume.
I believe I got really lucky with setting up an interview so quickly because not even a week later, I was getting a call. The interview lasted quite awhile and I was starting to really like how this school sounded. They requested I send a mock teaching lesson so of course I completed that as soon as I was able. On April 12th, I was offered an official teaching contract!
Also around this time, I started my teaching practicum. I wasn’t quite done with my TEFL Certification, and I needed to make the most out of this to prepare me for my job. One of the things that drew me to CIEE’s TEFL program was the 20 hours of real-life teaching practice. I have some background in tutoring, but my degree is not in education so this was really valuable to me. I found an English school near me and got to experience a classroom full of adults from Turkey, France, Mexico, Columbia, Japan, Korea, and all over the world! I really loved this experience and may talk about it more in a future post.
I finished my TEFL Course, but the grading stayed open until June to allow students to finish the teaching practicum. From here on out it was basically a lot of paperwork and a lot of waiting. I had to prepare my visa documents (which included the aforementioned apostille diploma and background checks) and send them off to Korea. From there, the school would essentially apply to sponsor me and send me a visa issuance number once they did.
Once I got my visa issuance, I had to prepare one final packet of documents to send to my local Korean Consulate for my final visa. I also booked my flight for July and started preparing for the move.
This, of course, is a pretty watered-down version of everything I had to do, but it has been quite the process so far. When I think about the last year of my life I don’t feel like I did all that much, but in actuality I spent most of the year preparing for this. Finally, the time has come and in just over a week I will be departing to South Korea.