Back in the summer of 2012, just after I had wrapped up my sophomore year of classes at the College of Staten Island, I participated in a study abroad program. My destination was Spain, specifically a small beach town up north called Santander.
(Naturally, it’s even more picturesque in person)
I needed five Spanish classes and the study abroad program in Spain would fill the fourth class slot quite nicely. When I signed up for the trip, I had no idea what to expect and wasn’t all that excited, even as I was getting on the plane.
But the truth is I had one of the most amazing experiences in my life spending 4 weeks in Santander and an extra week traveling at my leisure. I’ll throw up a more in detail post of my study abroad experience eventually but for now, just know, dear reader, that I had a great time.
(Like I said…I had a great time)
I enjoyed the experience so much, and learned so much about myself, that a desire to travel and see the rest of the world bloomed inside of me. After the trip, I always knew I’d return to Europe someday, but my Junior year of college was starting up, and I had plenty of school work on my plate, in addition to my job. (Hurricane Sandy was due in another month or two, but again, I’ll make a post on that another time).
As Junior year wound to a close I started to ponder what it was I wanted to do with my life. In addition to writing this nascent blog, I also write fiction—books specifically—and would like to have a career as an author. However, not only is publishing a competitive field, it moves at the speed of a fossilized dinosaur.
(Actually I take that back…he’s so much faster than the publishing process!)
So while I wait for my inevitable, GLORIOUS literary debut, I have to earn a living, no different from anyone else. But what to do with a B.A. in English? One of the many awesome people I met on my Spain program was a friend of my named Mark. His older brother, Terrence, has been teaching English to students in South Korea for about six years now, and a year ago when I found this out from him, it prompted me to look into the details of the job.
I was ecstatic to learn that not only did the schools in Korea pay for your plane ticket out there but they also furnish teachers with a studio apartment in addition to a comfortable salary. I always said that if I wasn’t so dead-set on being a writer, I’d be a language major (most likely Spanish with a minor in French) so it didn’t take long for me to decide that teaching English abroad would be a great way to not only pay my bills but to also have a job that catered to my interests.
And seeing as how I graduated with a 3.6 GPA and made the Dean’s list 3 years in a row, I would have no problem heading out there after graduation, right?
Sounds like a set plan, RIGHT? I mean…what could POSSIBLY go wrong?
(Not so fast, Mr. Seegitz)
Nine times out of ten I’m the poster child for preparedness and planning. I’m meticulous in many areas of my life, always sure to leave nothing to chance. In another words, I always do my best to make sure I have all my ducks in a row, so I researched the program and did everything I could to get as much of the paperwork done MONTHS before I graduated.
I needed two letters of recommendation, a resume (CV) that is SPECIFIC to the teaching program, a statement of purpose letter that I had to write myself, photos (both professional and casual), a scanned copy of my passport, a scanned copy of my transcript, and contact information about myself.
I also needed an FBI background check, one that is as recent as 6 months before the departure date, so I was sure to apply for that as well.
(This had better be worth it…)
I graduated from college on time and walked with my graduating class at the end of May 2014. A week or two later, I was happy to learn that after reviewing my application, CIEE accepted me into the Teach Abroad program. I was thrilled, not only because this was a job I really wanted, but also because the current job I had was really burning me out (more on that here).
The next step in the process, now that I was done with college and free to FINALLY work full time, was to start interviewing at different schools.
But there was a problem, and this segues into the key point of this post, as well as the current source of my misery, frustration, and depression.
*There is a law in the Korean Government that says they cannot grant a work Visa unless the teacher NOT ONLY has sent over a scanned copy of their diploma BUT ALSO has said diploma ON THEIR PERSON when they arrive in the country.*
Take a second and read that again.
Back? Okay. At first, when I saw that my application wanted me to upload my diploma, I assumed that they were just looking for the transcript with my grades, but as you’ve just read, that is unfortunately not true.
Even though I paid my tuition on time for 4 years and am an ace student who’s been accepted into the program of my choice, getting that obnoxious PIECE OF PAPER will prove to be one of the most crushing experiences I will have faced, so much so that it requires its own post, which will be up next week.
(Ready for a bureaucratic nightmare?)
Until next time,
J. F. Seegitz
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Part 2 is here.
Part 3 is here.
I’m in Korea and I’ve learned that you do NOT need the diploma “on your person” when you arrive. This was misinformation I learned from a CIEE rep.