Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eligibility hiccup.

I didn't have the most geographically stable childhood, moving overseas when I was four and then going to boarding school in South Africa from grade 8 and up. So when I saw that the EPIK requirements say that you need 10 years of schooling in a country where English is the main language, from a list of about seven countries (the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, America, South Africa and so on), I got a bit worried.

"Fine," I thought. "If I do a year of honours then that brings me to 5 years of university and 5 years of high school. Sorted."

Then I looked at the rules again a few months later, and saw that it said "10 years, starting from 7th grade."

EEK! I sent an email to them asking if a year of English-medium instruction at an international school was all right, and the very nice man on the other end said it's fine as long as I can prove it. A week later, after some emails back and forth to my first high school, and I have a signed document saying the school did teach in English, and I did go there.


For anyone who is planning to teach in Korea, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to be prepared, read the information closely, and give yourself time for slow documents and so on. I'm organising all this stuff now, but only plan to go to Korea in 2013.

Also, I've been looking up TEFL courses, and so far the one here is the cheapest (but it doesn't include the practical side). I have to do that practical bit in Johannesburg, which could cost ANOTHER R5000. This is looking very expensive, but it will definitely be worth it once I'm there.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Slowly creeping forward.

I'm now in my second last year of my time at university in South Africa. I found out that honours in Linguistics doesn't up my pay scale after all, unless I have teaching experience, and decided to shift the focus of my degree to English and Philosophy instead. I'm loving the work right now. It's been a great year so far, and I can feel myself edging closer and closer to finally getting to Korea.

La La (who wrote TravellinThruKorea, mentioned in my last post) has returned to our little town. We met up for coffee and talked about many things, like Korean hand gestures and my role in the classroom and how to get the kids to behave (bribe them with sweets).

It was really awesome and informative, and in a couple of months when her stuff arrives she's going to give me books on how to speak, read and write Korean.

In the meantime, my housemate Emma has decided she wants to go teach in Taiwan next year, so she is also interested in doing the TEFL/TESOL. I've discovered that you can do the theory component of it in my very own town so we might do it together then. Otherwise we could just go up to Joburg and do the full course there - we would need to do the practical component there anyway. so it makes more sense to do that, and she has kindly offered to let me stay with her family while we do the course. What does she want in return? Well, the same thing. I've invited her to stay with my family at some point as well. The TEFL course is R4500 and the TESOL course is R4800, so I'm going to try to sell my antique piano for R5000 to cover the course fee and flight to Johannesburg.

It's been quite an expensive month because I have tonsillitis, so asking my parents for that much money right now is a little daunting, especially when they're on the other side of the world, in New Zealand. Even if it is just a loan.

Watching the EatYourKimchi videos has me so excited and bouncy... They always do this to me. I wish I could fast forward time, skip all the admin, and just... BE there.

In the meantime I'm going to spend some time choosing which province I would like to go to. I plan to go to Korea for two years, spending one year in a village and one year in a city. I think that would give me a full sense of the country - and plus, you get paid more to be in a village. Score. I'm also training myself out of my dislike of fish by eating sushi and fishfingers. I'm working myself up to shellfish, although I did have oysters over Christmas. Maybe I should also teach myself how to make and edit videos - it could be really nice for my family to have videos to watch, as well as the text of this blog to read. I think I'm going to be the most over-prepared foreigner to ever go there, by the time I finally get there. But that feeling of getting off the plane and BEING there, in Korea... Actually doing it...

I can't wait.

At the same time, I have been watching these videos while pretending that I don't have a philosophy paper due any minute. If I'm not careful I won't get my degree, won't get into Honours, won't qualify to go to Korea at all. So, back to work.