Level 2 take 2

I haven’t been posting a lot since the new year since I started working part time in January and have found that I basically have no free time on weekdays.

The semester went by pretty fast and will be coming to an end on Tuesday. We had our finals this week and although I didn’t do as well as I would have liked on some of my exams I did better than expected on otjers and managed to make it out with a good average. Since I was repeating level 2 I am a little disapointed that I wasn’t able to do better but since I started working this semester I will consider that partof thr reason and will adjust for next semester.

Since I was repeating and already knew the grammar and vocabulary for the semester I don’t think I can work everyday and pass level 3. So I have spoken to my boss about changing my schedule since I won’t be able to maintain this schedule and pass level 3 next semester so starting in March I will only be working 3 days a week. Anyway we have nearly 3 weeks off this time around so I hope to find time to do some travelling at least around Korea if not anywhere else but my term break where I teach falls at the same time so I might get a chance to go somewhere else as well. After all travelling in Asia from Korea is quite cheap, and the cost of living is also cheap so it’s makes for some really cheap vacations. Plus I’d like to go somewhere warm, I’m tired of the cold…

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Got a job, I am so tired…

So I managed to find a job teaching English, still waiting on confirmation from immigration but I have started working. You get a 2 months grace period while you wait for your background check since it takes a while to go through the whole process from Korea.

First you have to get your prints taken at the police station, and hope you are lucky enough to run into an officer who speaks English. I was very lucky and did actually run into an English speaking officer and he was very nice and helped me with the whole process. Then you have to find a Canadian company that will send your prints to the RCMP, that’s pretty easy if you go on the embassy’s website since they have a list of companies that have the service. Then you mail your prints, which is actually pretty fast and cheap from Canada to Korea. Once the company receives your prints they process them and send them electronically to the RCMP and they check to see if you have a criminal record. Basically they want to check if you have any sexual charges (at least that’s what I heard), last time this went pretty fast when I did it in Canada. Once the RCMP has your record back there are two options: they can send it to you directly or a third person in Canada or send it back to the company who can forward it to you internationally. I chose to have it sent to my brother since the company charged in US$ if I had it sent internationally and it ended up being really expensive. So now I’m waiting for my brother to get it so he can send it to me. Once I receive it we can go to immigration and I should be able to get confirmation on my working status.

But that’s actually not at all what I wanted to talk about, but the whole background check process was actually a pain in the butt. Anyway I started working on Jan 2, the problem is I work about 1 hour from where I live so the commute is killing me. Here is my schedule right now: 9-1 school, 5-6 travel 6-9:30 teach, 9:45-10:45 travel.  I actually only recently realized that I can take the 5pm subway to get to work on time so I will be testing that out again this week, I can get to work at 5:55 which is a little last minute but at least it gives me more time to study between school and work, since before I had to take the 4pm subway. The line I take to go to work only has one train per hour so my options are limited, I could take another line but then I have to transfer twice and it takes over 1 hour so I don’t really want to use that option.

The teaching itself is not particularly difficult I don’t need to prepare anything and have everything I need in the books provided by the school, but keeping up with this schedule (even though it’s only been 2 weeks) is already killing me. I haven’t decided what I will do yet but I don’t think I will be able to maintain this when I go to level 3. Maybe I will have to put more effort into finding online work… I will have to give it some thought…

Chuseok

We finally get some much needed time off for Chuseok (thanksgiving), YAY! We have ten days off and then as soon as we come back to school we have our midterms, well we have one day of review and then midterms. I didn’t really make any plans for this time off since, well I don’t really plan things but also I knew I had to study quite a bit during this time if I want any chance at all to pass level 2.

So besides studying… I also recently found some work online doing some translating (French-English) so I’ll probably be working quite a bit as well. Having finally found work is quite a relief since I had started getting a little worried about having no money coming in especially since I have to pay my tuition for the upcoming year before next week. So besides studying and working (which makes for a boring holiday) I will be going to a Chuseok party for foreigners tomorrow so that should be interesting. It’s quite close to home and I’ll be going with another friend from school as well. We’ll get to meet new people eat some good food and take a break from studying too!

My boss

I wrote this post a little while ago, just after submitting my visa request actually. I started thinking about how much more difficult the road to Korea would have been without his support. He is the first and only person outside of my family who knew the whole story about my going to Korea; that is, that I originally planned on teaching and had issues with that and that I eventually decided to go learn Korean instead.

I first decided to tell him about my plans in what I would call the earlier stage of my journey. I told him because I was worried about not being able to give my months notice, and that I would leave him in a bind. So I told him and asked him to keep it to himself because if I got refused I didn’t want to have to explain to everyone how my plans had fallen through. It was around November that I told him, when I still had a lot of hope for plan A to succeed and hoped to be in Korea by December.

Since that time my plans have obviously changed, but he has been supportive in the whole process and was a welcome ear to listen to my ramblings and tentative plans. It was very helpful to have someone to talk to in person about this. I did talk to my family about it but mostly via Skype or text, so talking about it out loud with someone was a helpful outlet. Besides listening to me, he has also helped me by letting me leave early whenever I’ve had to go to the consulate, the notary, or wherever else I had to go to prepare my paperwork.

I hadn’t originally planned on writing anything about him, but felt like he deserved his own post for helping me so much on my journey, and so I thank him wholeheartedly for making this that much easier.

The search for online work

Since I can’t work here on my current visa (D-4) until I have been here for 1 semester or 6 months (I’m still trying to figure out which of those is accurate) I will have to find something else to bring in some money in the meantime. I do have some savings and something you could call an emergency fund but I’d really prefer to be able to get by without going into that particular fund.

This week there were a few days that I just didn’t feel like going out and just wanted to relax at home. Since arriving here I have kind of felt obligated to do something everyday and I think that this has contributed to how tired I am and how I still feel like I’m suffering the effects of jetlag. Anyway on those days in order to be at least somewhat productive I continued the research I had started back home on finding online work. There seems to be a number of possibilities to make money online including tutoring, writing, website testing, transcription, and many more.

I tried out transcription on a few sites and have found it to be very time consuming and not particularly interesting, especially when I have to listen to certain parts of a recording 5-10 times because I can’t understand what is being said. When you consider the amount of time it takes to transcribe something and the pay rate, I feel it just isn’t worth the time. So the research continues… I recently found a subreddit that discusses working online and have found the discussions to be very useful both in helping wead out the scams (there are a lot of those) and productive reviews of legitimate opportunities. Like most things in online work you get what you put into it, so a lot will depend on how mush time/dedication I put into it.

One of the opportunities that seems really interesting is tutoring English on Cambly. It’s basically just helping students to practice their conversational English so there is no teaching per se, I mean I wouldn’t have to create lessons and such. Most of the sessions are also one on one, and because most of the students are from Asia I am currently in a perfect position to have many available hours. I have already started my application but I amd trying to think of what to say in my introduction video… Only Cambly staff will see it, but since this is the only sample of me they have I feel like it should say a lot about me (kind of like an interview).

Once I reach the 3/6 months milestone here I will be able to work, although my Korean will still not be very advanced at that time so finding work may still be very difficult. Perhaps if some of my online work is fruitful I will be able so support myself with that and concentrate on studying the rest of the time. Oh and let’s not forget being a tourist, I still have quite a few things that I want to go and see while I’m here (DMZ in particular).

Things are moving along

Let’s see, here’s the progress for this super awesome trip that can’t possibly come fast enough.

  • Flight booked, departure 29 May 16:00, arrival 30 May 21:50 Gimpo
  • Airbnb booked from 30 May-4 June, that’s how long I’ll have to find a hasookjib
  • Visa received last week
  • House rental: lease will be signed on Friday
  • Packing: no comment… I’ve actually started packing up the house somewhat, as for trip packing I plan on doing a packing test maybe next week (after I receive my compression bags from amazon)

All in all plans are going well. Just having trouble getting through each day at work… I never really liked my job but no that I know I’ll be leaving in less than four weeks I am having a really hard time being productive or caring at all about work. I have resorted to counting down the days on a mini post-it pad on my desk, and I am now at 16 or 17 workdays left (I’m not sure since I didn’t go to work today.

I think the closer and more real this becomes the more stressed I become, even though I should be getting excited. This in turn is causing me to have more migraines than usual which is very unpleasant. Hopefully the more I get done the less stress there will be, time will tell.

I Quit!

Ha! That’s right, I quit! I officially gave my one months notice at work today and in the process also had to explain why I was quitting. Firstly, everyone was surprised that I was leaving, but everyone thought that going to Korea was a great project. I was happy that I was not met with any skepticism, fear, or thoughts of my being crazy.

For some what I’m doing could very well seem like something completely crazy. I mean I just bought my first house, I have a good paying job and for the most part like the people I work with. But I am not happy, I feel like I haven’t found my place or what it is I want out of life. I am hoping this somewhat crazy journey I’ve embarked on will help me to find those things.