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FINISHING THE GRUELING PAPERWORK:
So here it is future English teachers, EVERYTHING you’ll need in order to get your visa and finally board that plane to your next adventure:
- Checklist for all documents
- Complete 13 page application with essay, sample lesson plan & 2 passport photos
- Copy of the information page in passport
- Original FBI Criminal Background Check with Apostille from the US Secretary of State
- Notarized copy of degree with an Apostille from the Secretary of State
- Sealed copy of transcripts
- Two original signed letters of recommendation
- Copy of TEFL certification
- Additional copy of all of the above
Getting Your Visa:
Your agency will definitely help you with all of this and give you the appropriate checklists & instructions. Once you send all of these documents to the country you will be teaching in (to Korea, it’s about $80 because you have to use UPS or FedEx – no tracking for USPS in SK!), they will send you a contract and NOA – Notice of Appointment. These documents will enable you to get your visa so you have to bring it to the nearest Korean Consulate (for me, it was in San Francisco), pay $45 and wait 3 days to pick it up. Then you’re ready to book your flight!
Booking Your Flight:
I had been researching flights constantly for the last couple of months and they have stayed around $550, give or take $100. The main site I used was statravel.com but ended up booking with Singapore Airlines. STA shows multiple airlines and compares their prices but in the end, booking directly through Singapore Air was a little bit cheaper and I also didn’t have to pay for the extra “ISIC card” that STA makes you purchase. Booking just a few days in advance still only cost me $530 and I will receive a $1200 allowance for each flight ($2400 total) as part of my contract, so I get over half leftover, which is amazing.
I learned after moving to Australia that I am definitely guilty of OVERPACKING. It’s so easy to do because you don’t know what you won’t be able to get in the foreign country you’re moving to. And it’s also hard to let personal possessions go. Easy fix is to do some research to see what you won’t be able to find. My favorite way of researching this is to check out other travel blogs, especially of people who are doing what you’re doing i.e. other English teachers abroad.
My Packing List:
- Work clothes – because I don’t want to be shopping for appropriate attire right when I get there. Koreans are somewhat modest as well, so it was good to know that shoulders are almost never shown. The shopping here is plentiful, however, so if you love shopping as much as me, you should probably save room in your suitcase.
- Adaptors – Koreans use Euro plugs. A pack of 3 was under $10 on Amazon
- Power Strip (American) – majority of my appliances will still be American so a power strip is good to have so you don’t need to use an adaptor for everything
- Luggage Scale – I obviously encountered many problems with overweight luggage when traveling around Southeast Asia so this is essential to make sure I stay under weight. Not necessarily aimed directly at my packing list for Korea but absolutely crucial to have as a traveler
- Rain Boots – I hear that Korea is ridiculously cold and the rain can be pretty harsh. I had an old $25 pair of rain boots from Target that I didn’t think would suffice, so I invested in the rain boots of all rain boots – Hunter’s! (And when I say “I invested”, I mean that I put it on my birthday wish list and the boyfriend got them for me.) These beauties are currently my favorite article of clothing and even though it hasn’t rained yet, I’ve worn them multiple times and they keep me nice and toasty
- Wet Wipes – If you’ve ever been to any Asian countries, you may have realized that toilet paper in public bathrooms is often scarce. These bad boys saved my life in Southeast Asia so I brought way too many with me to Korea. Turns out they have plenty here, but they were super expensive in Australia so I figured I’d stock up. Probably shouldn’t have them on my list because they weren’t necessary to bring, but it’s also just another good tip for the other overly-health-conscious like myself.
- Camera (obviously)
- Present for co-teachers – When teaching abroad, you’ll work with a co-teacher that speaks the foreign language & English. They help you with a LOT so it’s nice to get them a gift that is related to your own culture. I ended up getting some souvenir gifts from the San Francisco airport
- Deodorant – Like I said before in my Travel Tips Post, this stuff isn’t easy to find or cheap in Korea.
- Sheets – I guess Koreans don’t believe in fitted sheets so these aren’t the easiest to find here either. Granted, I haven’t tried that hard but I brought one and am glad it’s one thing I don’t have to hunt for.
- Mac Makeup – this stuff is obscenely overpriced outside of the US so I had to stock up on a year’s worth
You can get mostly everything else in Korea. And if not, you can always shop online!