Day Trip to Semiwon Garden

While Seoul so much to do and explore, someone who enjoys exploring the countryside and taking the vast, lush and enchanting nature of South Korea, needs the occasional trip away from the hustle and bustle. My most recent adventure lead me to Yangsu in Gyeongi. My objective was to explore Semiwon Garden and Dumulmeori. It was such a rewarding trip. I hope you’ll add it to your list of places to see while you teach in South Korea.

Semiwon Garden

From my knowledge, this botanical garden is the only garden in the world that is solely dedicated to the lotus flower. It is open year around. However, it is most beautiful and worth the trip in the summer when the lotus flowers are in full bloom. There are a total of six ponds in the garden, and plenty of sculptures and areas to relax and enjoy the unique atmosphere the lotus flower ponds offer. The kimchi pot fountain towards the main entrance of the garden is great for photos! Also, for any Avatar: The Last Air Bender fans, if you time the fountain correctly, you can get a fun video of yourself ‘water bending’. Also, there is a green house on the grounds that is worth stopping by if it is too hot outside. Make sure to take a good camera with you!

 

Dumulmeori Park

Dumulmeori is an absolutely gorgeous park. The name refers to where two waters meet, which fits it perfectly. It is located where Bukhangang River and Namhangang River meet. There are beautiful lake views, and a very large lotus flower pond, too. Many people ride bikes through the park and stop for picnics. Vendors sell many delicious street foods. Also, you can buy cute animal-shaped cotton candy. It’s a great spot for a summer date!

 

Giselle Moreno is from California, USA where she attended the University of California, Riverside. While a student, she always worked with international students and she decided to teach English abroad upon graduating during her third year of university. It was through the experiences of being an English tutor for international students that she felt really fulfilled. She found it particularly easy to get along with Korean students which is why she decided to pursue a teaching opportunity in Korea. She even attended Yonsei University in Seoul for a semester as a study abroad student and fell in love with the city. She is currently working at ChungDahm Learning’s April Daechi branch located in Gangnam, Seoul.

Why I Recommended Aclipse to My Friend

Crazy Idea

I lived and taught in Seoul, South Korea for a year from August 2016-September 2017 and it is definitely the best decision I’ve ever made. My first thought when I first had the crazy idea to move abroad was to, of course, talk to friends and family for advice! In these conversations, I actually learned that a friend of a friend had lived in Korea and loved it so much that he stayed for 3 years. Obviously, my next move was to talk to this person. He had the same goals as me: teach, travel and explore! He had enjoyed his time in Seoul and found it to be a very fun, interesting and safe place to live. Little did I know this is exactly why I would be recommending Aclipse to MY friend!

English language teachers posing in front at their school with Christmas hats

The Reference

He let me know that he had worked with Colette at Aclipse and how easy she made the whole process. In my first conversation with Colette, she told me about her experience living and working in Japan and how that led to her career path in recruiting for English teachers. She made it a very easy, step by step process and it never felt overwhelming. I interviewed with her, created my “intro” video, got steps on how to apply for my visa and everything else I could possibly need. Within weeks, I was placed at ChungDahm April in Jamsil, Seoul which was exactly what I wanted since I wanted to teach younger kids.

 

A group or Chungdahm learning English students posing at their school
A foreign English language teacher posing with selfie stick with her students in a Chungdahm Learning classroom in Korea

Gratitude!

All in all, it was a great experience and I have Aclipse and CDI to thank! I will always look back at that time on my life positively and really appreciate the opportunity that I was given. I recently had a friend reach out to me because she is wanting to teach abroad and I recommended Aclipse and CDI for her to teach through. It not only allowed me to fund my travels (which included Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand), but I really enjoyed my job and the students that I taught.

 

Two foreign English language teachers posing at a baseball game in Korea
Two English language teachers in a canoe on a river in Korea
Foreign English language teacher posing with a Korean staff member at a Chungdahm Learning institute in Korea
Two native English language teachers posing on a mountain in Korea
A few native English language teachers posing in Halloween costumes at a Chungdahm Learning location in Korea

 

Emily is from Chicago, IL and attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana for her undergrad degree. After finishing college, she spent 5 years working in student advising for a university and while she enjoyed and felt fulfilled in this role, she craved an opportunity to live, teach and travel abroad. She had never been to Asia, and after much research decided that the lifestyle and culture in South Korea would be the best fit. Coming from Chicago, she knew she’d want the big city feel of Seoul and taught at ChungDahm Learning’s April Jamsil branch located in Jamsil, Seoul.

Gyms And Personal Trainers in Korea

Gym Memberships in Korea

First off, if you didn’t know already, fitness is HUGE in Korea. You can find a workout gym on almost every corner. I recently stumbled upon a very lucky find. A fitness center near my work had a small fire not long ago. Nothing serious, but enough of a cause to close down and do a partial remodel. Sounds terrible. But the point is they had to remodel, and this disrupted their business. Get where I am going with this now? Discounts!

I’m located in a rather pricey area, so usual gym memberships at well-known chains are about 70,000won a month to 336,000won for a year. These prices are normal in Gangnam, Seoul. There is always a hook to their prices. Pay more upfront and you end up spending less per month in the long run. Anyway, thanks to their remodeling promotion. I have been trying out the gym for 150,000won for three months. Thus, it is a relatively cheap price. Also, I got two free personal training sessions! I’ll add the information for the gym I go to at the bottom.

 

The Personal Trainer

Now this is what I really want to talk about – my personal trainer. Personal trainers in my area usually run about 50,000won to 90,000won per session. A session is an hour long. I know, it’s so expensive. It can fit into one’s salary as a teacher in Seoul, so it is a matter of how much value one places on exercise. Again, the amount you pay upfront is the deal you get. Thus, one can get about 30 sessions for 50,000won per session, but you have to pay 1,500,000won. So my luck is that due to when I signed up, I can now get personal training sessions for a flat rate of 60,000won per session. Still pricey, but working out is a great addition to one’s lifestyle. The benefits of having a routine workout impact all aspects of health – mentally and physically. Plus, with how cold winter is this year in Seoul, working out gives me something productive to do, so I don’t simply hibernate.

My personal trainer keeps track of my workout. So far she has made sure that I obtained my workout goals in an efficient, effective and safe manner! The personal trainers in Korea aren’t much different than those in the United States. Luckily, most can speak enough English to have foreign clients. They know how to instruct and guide in English pretty well at the gym I attend. 

My first meeting with my personal trainer was about discussing my workout goals, checking the condition of my body (how much body fat I have, how much muscle mass I have, how much water retention I have, etc) and discussing what work I have to do outside of the gym to reach my goal (how much sleep I should get and what type of diet I should be maintaining). Afterwards, we slowly eased into learning some workout exercises. My second meeting with my personal trainer, began with a massage. My PT prepares my body for the workout I’m about to have by making sure the areas I will be targeting aren’t tense. Then, we went into checking how well I learned what was previously taught and building off from that. The sessions I’ve had since then are similar to my second session. After each workout, my PT sends me a review of our workout along with videos that were taken of my posture doing new movements I learned during our session. I can reference them when working out alone. 

 

Korean Gym Etiquette

Here is something I wish I had known before my first meeting with my trainer that may be useful information to one – bring a clean pair of gym shoes that are only for gym use! While these gyms offer their own gym uniforms to workout in, they never offer shoes. There are shoe lockers right at the entrance of the gym and beyond that point one should be wearing their clean gym shoes. It is a major Korean etiquette. One of which I will never forget! 

 

Seek the Discounts!

I hope as English teachers in a foreign country, we all find an activity to keep us active, healthy and positive! Maybe signing up at a local gym would be a great way for you to integrate more into Korean society. Look out for discount opportunities! Having a personal trainer is an interesting experience. 

Here is the site for the gym franchise I recommend:

Humake Gym in Seoul

 

Giselle Moreno is from California, USA where she attended the University of California, Riverside. While a student, she always worked with international students and she decided to teach English abroad upon graduating during her third year of university. It was through the experiences of being an English tutor for international students that she felt really fulfilled. She found it particularly easy to get along with Korean students which is why she decided to pursue a teaching opportunity in Korea. She even attended Yonsei University in Seoul for a semester as a study abroad student and fell in love with the city. She is currently working at ChungDahm Learning’s April Daechi branch located in Gangnam, Seoul.

Weekend Trip in Yeosu

I just spent a weekend enjoying a trip all the way down to the Southernmost point of the Korean peninsula. The last stop of KTX’s Jeolla line is the Yeosu EXPO Station. It takes three hours and costs 45,000 won from Seoul to Yeosu using KTX. I want to share with you why it is worth the time and investment. While I visited, I noted five reasons Yeosu is a must stop destination in South Korea.

 

Yeosu Ocean Railbike

Upon arriving to Yeosu, I made the Yeosu Ocean Railbike (여수해양레일바이크) my first destination. It is located less than 10 minutes away from Yeosu EXPO Station by taxi. The fare was less than 5,000 won. The price varies by how many people go. The more people, the less it costs: 2 people is 26,000 won, 3 people is 31,000 won, and 4 is 36,000 won. I went during the Chuseok holiday, so the wait time was 40 minutes. Plus, I was unaware that making online reservations was possible! I could have saved myself the wait time. On the bright side, I know better now and so do you – reserve at least one day before!

The rail bike trip itself is 3.5 km long. It takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. The rail bike goes into a dark cave that is decorated with many fun lights. While in the cave it does get chilly, so I recommend a light jacket. Even though it was September and a bright, sunny day, I would have liked to wear a cardigan in the cave. I get cold easily.

 

Main Street

The main street in Yeosu is named after a famous Korean naval officer – Yi Sun Shin. Starting from Yi Sun Shin Square, there are many street performances to watch, games to play, restaurants to eat at, and street food to try. All the fun happens at night. That is when all the vendors finish setting up their tents and are ready for business. There is a model warship of Yi Sun Shin’s turtle ship, too. One can take a moment to step back in time and learn something educational about Korean history. I ended every night of my stay in Yeosu here. I even bought fireworks. There is a lot to do and enjoy on this strip.

 

Maritime Cablecars

The Yeosu Maritime Cable Car (여수 해상케이블카) runs from the mainland to Dolsan Island. I aimed to take the cable car from the mainland to the island during the sunset and return at night to get two different types of views. However, to do this I should have planned in advance. Again, I went during Chuseok, so there were a lot of people. There are two different cable cars – standard and crystal. The crystal cabins have transparent floors. I paid 15,000 won for a standard cabin round trip, because the wait time for a crystal cabin was too long at that time. A crystal cable car would have been 22,000 won round trip.

 

Hyangiram Hermitage

This is one of four hermitages in Korea. What makes this hermitage unique is its history. During Yi Sun Shin’s time, the hermitage was used by Buddhist monks that aided Yi Sun Shin fight against the Japanese invasion. One can catch a bus from the mainland that leads directly to your destination. The ride to the hermitage took about an hour and was filled with scenic sights of the ocean and rice paddies. However, the ride back took about 40 minutes. I held tight to my seat on the ride back. Having a bus driver with a heavy foot may end up being a part of your experience as well.

The admission fee is 2,000 won. The trails through the hermitage are well paved and there are plenty of stairs. Be prepared for the workout. Everything is steep. There are many spots to enjoy ocean views, mountain views and turtle views. The turtles aren’t real, but stone ones. The turtle is main symbol of this hermitage. For 5,000 won one can buy a gold leaf to write on, make a wish upon it, and hang around the hermitage. The money all goes towards the preservation of the temples there. Be sure to set aside an adequate amount of time for this trip – transportation to and from, the hike up and down, and time to fully enjoy the zen vibe.

 

Korean Seafood

Food is always a reason to go somewhere. Yeosu is no exception. Seafood is my favorite. There are many seafood main dishes and street foods. Pictures speak a thousand words. Absolutely delicious!

 

Giselle Moreno is from California, USA where she attended the University of California, Riverside. While a student, she always worked with international students and she decided to teach English abroad upon graduating during her third year of university. It was through the experiences of being an English tutor for international students that she felt really fulfilled. She found it particularly easy to get along with Korean students which is why she decided to pursue a teaching opportunity in Korea. She even attended Yonsei University in Seoul for a semester as a study abroad student and fell in love with the city. She is currently working at ChungDahm Learning’s April Daechi branch located in Gangnam, Seoul.

Paragliding in Danyang

Upon arriving to South Korea, I knew I had to accomplish everything on my wish list. Some items on my list include enjoying the beautiful Korean countryside in a rather extreme way: bungee jumping, river rafting, zip lining, hang gliding and paragliding. While I still have a long way to go to complete checking everything off my wish list, I recently checked off paragliding!

Danyang Paragliding

My 90,000 won paragliding experience took place in Danyang County with a company called 패러에 반하다. While it isn’t an exact translation, the company’s name basically is ‘Fall in Love with Paragliding’. Danyang is popular for its breathtaking scenic views, natural caves and outdoor activities. There are plenty of ways to get to Danyang from Seoul. I opted for taking a bus out of Dong Seoul Bus Terminal – it’s the cheaper option. One way is 13,300 won, so my round trip was 26,000 won. It was a 2.5 hour trip. If you are on a budget, this is a good option.

Mountain Cafe

Upon arriving to Danyang Intercity Bus Terminal, I waited for my reserved transportation to arrive. As I mentioned previously, paragliding itself was 90,000 won. I got picked up and dropped back off at the bus terminal by the paragliding company. Also,  the price does include having the video of your paragliding experience downloaded to your phone and/or emailed to you.

Once at the paragliding location, one checks in and signs a waiver. As with any extreme sport/activity, one must sign a waiver. It was in all Korean, so I had my friend translate for me. It was just like any other waiver – nothing special. While one waits for their turn, one can watch others taking off and/or stop by a cute cafe on location. Yes, very Korean. There is always a cafe nearby. This particular cafe, all the way on top of the mountain, is called 산카페 – literally translates to ‘Mountain Cafe’.

two women sitting watching paragliders with their hands in a heart pose

Jumping Off a Cliff

An employee calls you once it is your turn to get changed into your paragliding jumpsuit. Also, they provide you with shoes to wear. I went dressed prepared! But I wish I knew they provided all that… All the Korean girls were still dressed stylishly. At least I know for next time. The instructors hook you up to the shoot, hand you a selfie stick with a GoPro, and it is time to go! The feeling of RUNNING OFF A CLIFF and soaring through the sky is indescribable. So the best way to show how my experience actually paragliding went is to simply attach my paragliding video.

If I had to pick one word, it would have to be EXHILARATING! Enjoy!

Giselle Moreno is from California, USA where she attended the University of California, Riverside. While a student, she always worked with international students and she decided to teach English abroad upon graduating during her third year of university. It was through the experiences of being an English tutor for international students that she felt really fulfilled. She found it particularly easy to get along with Korean students which is why she decided to pursue a teaching opportunity in Korea. She even attended Yonsei University in Seoul for a semester as a study abroad student and fell in love with the city. She is currently working at ChungDahm Learning’s April Daechi branch located in Gangnam, Seoul.

How to Obtain Your Visa Documents in Canada to Teach in Korea

Okay so you’re ready and excited about coming to Korea and teaching in Korea, right?  You’ve made a great decision, but not so fast cowboy.  First, you are going to need a Certified Criminal Record Check from the RCMP on the basis of fingerprints.  Second, you will need to have your University Degree photocopied and notarized and then certified by the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea or Embassy depending on where in Canada you are situated.  In this blog I will take you step-by-step about how to obtain your visa documents to teach in Korea if you are a Canadian citizen.

Criminal Record Check

Step 1:    Get a full set of fingerprints and your photo taken.

Please note that your RCMP Criminal Record Check must include both your photo and fingerprints.  If you receive one without the photo it will not be accepted by Korean immigration. 

If you have questions call the RCMP at 613-998-6362 between 7:30 AM and 3:30 PM Eastern Time.

I live in Mississauga, Ontario and my local Peel Regional Police no longer offered fingerprinting services for non-criminal matters. If you find yourself in the same situation as me, your alternative is to go to an RCMP-accredited fingerprint company.  I went to the Commissionaires office in Mississauga on a Saturday morning when they opened at 9:00 am.  I recommend going first thing when their office opens to avoid potentially long wait times as not all locations will take appointments.  I was in and out in 15 minutes after getting digital/electronic fingerprints, my photo taken and providing some personal information for the application.

Items Needed to get Fingerprints and Photo Taken:  two pieces of valid government issued identification and one must be a photo ID.  Such as Driver’s License, Birth Certificate, Passport.  (Normally Health Cards and SIN Cards are not acceptable)

Step 2:    Provide information to person taking fingerprints and photo.

First, you need to state the reason for your certified criminal record check.  This will be for employment overseas.  You do not need to provide job title, business name or any employment contract to them.

Second, you will provide them with your name, date of birth, sex, mailing address and phone number. It’s VERY IMPORTANT to provide your full name EXACTLY as it appears in your passport or Korean immigration will not accept it. So if your middle name is on your passport then it needs to be on the RCMP check. If your passport only has a first and last name – then so should your RCMP check!! If you mess this up you’ll need to apply for a new one and that’s added expense and time!

Step 3:   Confirm and double-check your application is complete and accurate.

Verify the information recorded by the person taking your fingerprints and photo.  Make sure your name is correct (and EXACTLY as in your passport), your birth date and mailing address are all accurate.  If anything is incomplete or inaccurate, the RCMP will not process the application and it will be returned. 

Step 4:    Pay your fee and application submitted.

Cost:  I paid $70 (this could vary a little depending on location, but not significantly).

For an accredited fingerprinting company like Commissionaires, the fingerprints, photo and application will all be submitted electronically to the RCMP. 

Please note that if you are getting your fingerprints and photo done at your local police service, they may or may not be able to submit them electronically.  Please check with your local police and also fees may differ from police fingerprinting and accredited companies.

Step 5:    Verify the status of your application (optional).

For an electronic fingerprint application with no match, the processing time is 3 business days or less.  If your application has taken longer than the estimated time, you can check the status by emailing: CCRTIS-SCICTR@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

In the email, provide your full name, d.o.b, type of application submitted (Criminal Record Check), date your application was submitted, phone number, document control number (DCN) if available.

I went in on a Saturday during the busy Christmas season and I still received my Criminal Record Check in the mail on the Tuesday of the following week.  It took less than 3 business days to receive it.

I do not recommend ever getting a paper fingerprint application because the processing time can take up to 22 weeks. 

Have your criminal record check certified.

Cost:  I paid $5.20 (this could vary depending on location

This will be done at your nearest Consulate General of the Republic of Korea.  For a list of all the Korean Consulates in Canada check out this link on the Aclipse website.  Normally it will be walk-in service with no appointment available.  Remember to bring valid ID such as Driver’s License and/or Passport. *Before you get your criminal record certified make sure it has both your picture and fingerprints on it (look at the photo directly below).  If it doesn’t have both of these items on it, then your criminal record won’t be accepted by Korean Immigration.

Following is a list of RCMP-accredited fingerprint companies.  (A photo will always be included)

University Degree

For your University Degree you must have it certified with the Consular Seal as pictured below.

Step 1:    Have your original University Degree ready.

Step 2:    Have your original University Degree notarized.

Bring your original University Degree and a photocopy of the degree to a notary public or a lawyer.  I had my degree notarized by a lawyer for $25.  I called around to several lawyers and asked them the price and went with the lowest cost.  If you want to save some money then you may want to make a few phone calls to find the best price.

Step 3:    Bring original degree and notarized photocopy to nearest Korean Consulate.

The officer will have your notarized photocopy certified.  The cost is $5.20, but may vary.

Please also remember to bring valid photo ID (Driver’s License and/or Passport).

Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Toronto has waived the need for a University sealed transcript.  This was required in the past, but I have confirmed with the Consulate that it is no longer needed at this particular location.  Please check with you local Consulate if a University transcript is required.

Conclusion

Pretty easy eh!?  There you have it, just a little preparation and time and you will have your Criminal Record Check and University Degree all certified and ready to submit to Aclipse.  Now you are ready to go to Korea and experience the best year of your life.  

How to Obtain Your Visa Documents in the U.S. to Teach in Korea

Before you can board the plane and fly to South Korea, of course some planning and paperwork needs be completed and mailed to the Aclipse headquarters in order to receive your visa. Below is a list of what items and documents you will need to obtain if you are a United States citizen in order to teach in Korea.

Before I talk about how to obtain each document, I first want to list the documents themselves, which I have provided below. 

1) 2 passport photos

2) 1 apostilled copy of your bachelor’s degree

3) Latin degree translation (if necessary)

4) 1 apostilled criminal background check (CBC).  When applying for your CBCs do not apply too early. They should be valid through one month after your target start month. ie. Target start month is May, your CBCs should be valid through June.

5) Degree verification from university OR degree verification through American Databank.

6) Your original E2 health statement form with signature and blank date.

7) A copy of your passport which you can scan and email to your recruiter. Just make sure your passport will be valid throughout your entire stay in Korea.

Although It seems like an overwhelming task to obtain these documents, it’s really manageable and just something that has to be done. The most important part is to simply begin and not procrastinate. And I can’t stress enough the value in asking questions. Prior to this experience I’d never needed to provide so many official documents and perhaps you’re in the same boat – that’s okay; that’s why Aclipse has a fantastically equipped and patient team to help you!

Specifically, I want to address obtaining your apostilled CBC and diploma copy.

Obtaining Your Apostilled CBC:

If you are an E2 Visa holder, like I am, you will need to obtain one background check.that needs to be apostilled. Now you maybe asking yourself how do you go about obtaining an Apostilled CBC?

The first step that must be taken to get your CBC is getting fingerprinted at your local police station. This process took about 20 minutes from start to finish. Next, you’ll need to complete and print a specific form from the one of the FBI channelers. This form needs to be mailed along with the fingerprints to the address specified on the FBI channeler website. You’ll also need to prepare a money order, check, or completed credit card form for the amount requested per copy of the results. Include the money with the fingerprints and form. And then you wait for your CBC!

Your CBC is a federal document, which means it needs to be apostilled at the federal level. Once I received my CBC, I mailed it myself to the US Department of State to apply for the apostille, but this method could take as long as six weeks to process and has in the past resulted in start date delays, so you need to do so as soon as possible. You can also send your CBC to Aclipse by making a payment on their Paypal account, and they will send it to Washington Express and get it apostilled for you, which is an easier method.  

Below are examples of what your CBC and the apostille of the CBC look.  One thing of note is is to make sure your CBC has the same name that is on your passport.  This is crucial and make sure to double check this prior to mailing it to Aclipse.

(Above is an example of a CBC, depending on where you get it your CBC maybe white or a light blue)

(Above is what an apostille for your CBC should look like. This will be attached on top of your CBC)

Obtaining Your Apostilled Diploma:

The first thing I did was take my actual university diploma to a FedEx shop nearest me to make a copy of it. Then, I mailed the photocopies to the SC Secretary of State’s office. DO NOT DO THAT!! FIRST, you MUST make sure to get the copy of your diploma notarized prior to getting it apostilled. I thought I ONLY needed an apostilled diploma. But it turns out, I can’t get an apostille without first getting it notarized, so I had to get a new photocopy of my diploma made, and then I went to my bank and had them notarized. For fear of being short on time, I decided to drive to my Secretary of State’s office and had my CBC and diploma apostilled in person. It took me three hours round trip, but it honestly saved me the headache of wondering if my documents would return to me on time.  One other key thing your should know is that your diploma needs to be notarized and apostilled in the same state.  You can’t get it notarized for instance in Massachusetts and apostilled in New Hampshire.  Below are examples of what a notarized and apostilled diploma look like.

(Above is an example of a notarized diploma. A notarized diploma should have a stamp that says “Notary Public” on it)

(Above is an example of an apostille for the diploma. Each state will have a different apostille which will be attached on top of your diploma, but they should all have the state name written on it along with the word “Apostille.”)

Along with obtaining an apostilled diploma, if your diploma is written in Latin, you will need to obtain a Latin translation from your University. Also, if your name is different on your diploma from your CBC and passport you will also most likely have to obtain a letter from your university stating you are the same person as the one in your passport. For instance some diplomas may just have a middle initial, while the passport may have the full middle name. 

I hope my account of getting my CBC and diploma apostilled didn’t confuse anyone further. It’s especially important for me to share my blunder with my diplomas. While there are a few steps to take, they need not cause headache or sweats. Most importantly, ask your recruiters questions if you are confused or having issues. 

Linda Gaida was raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina and graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2016 with a degree in Romance Languages. While passionate about environmental studies and conservation, her interests now lean towards education! Her curiosities and studies have taken her to Romania, Portugal, Peru, India, and now South Korea, where she works as an English teacher for ChungDahm Learning in Busan. Deciding to teach abroad was an easy decision to make for Linda: while she gets to experience a culture foreign to her own, she is able to benefit the global society by teaching children English and helping them pursue their own ambitions. Linda is also interested in yoga, climbing, hiking, backpacking (anything involving movement), cooking and writing poetry.

How to Obtain Your Visa Documents in South Africa to Teach in Korea

Obtaining the necessary documents to teach in Korea can be really stressful and a big headache if you do not know where to start or how to go about it. From experience, following a methodical order of things needed to be done will help speed up the process. Every citizen coming to Korea has a different route to follow and one needs to know the specific requirements for their nationality. The method of obtaining documents is different in every county. So what may be allowed in America, may not be allowed in South Africa.

For South Africans, acquiring the necessary documents to teach in Korea is pretty straightforward and is much easier than other nationalities’ lengthy processes. There are 5 things you need to have and a particular order of steps that you should follow in order to use your time efficiently. This blog will lead you step by step to make the sure process is easy and efficient.  

If you live outside of Johannesburg and Pretoria, it is highly recommended that you make use of a third party service, such as Docs4Expats or DocAssist. From personal experience, Docs4Expats, run by Noma, is a trustworthy and efficient courier service that is well-connected and has a speedy overturn rate. If you prefer to not sit waiting, Noma does everything for you, once you have paid the required fee. Before you begin gathering the required documents, make sure you know which ones and how many of each you must obtain if you go through Aclipse to teach in Korea.  The documents you need are:

  • 1 apostilled copy of a criminal background check (clearance certificate)
  • 1 apostilled copy of your university degree
  • 2 passport photos
  • 1 degree verification

Step 1: Apostilled Police Clearance Certificate

The Criminal Record Centre in Pretoria processes all South African Police Clearance Certificates. First, you have to have your fingerprints taken at the nearest police station along with a copy of your passport/ID book and your original passport/ ID book. Next, the applicant can opt to use the SAPS postal service or their own courier service. It is advised that you use an external courier service, like Docs4Expats, for quick processing. If you live in Johannesburg or Pretoria, it is much quicker to drop off your PCC at the CRC yourself. If you drop it off or use an external courier, the process will take about 6 weeks. The process cost for one PCC is R96,00.00 which you can be paid at the CRC or via a bank transfer or directly to your courier service. A re-issue of the PCC can be made within 6 months, and it will cost an additional R96, 00.00. 

A final step is to authenticate your certificate. You have to get your PCC Apostilled at any High Court in South Africa. For convenience, there is one in Pretoria, which you can go directly to, with your PCC and University Diploma, after collection. Another option, is to pay for a third party to process your PCC and Apostille it at the same time.  

While you are at the police station kill two birds with one stone, and get a copy of your passport information page certified. Take your passport and 3 x copies of your passport and get all of them certified by a ranked officer. You will need this at a later stage in the application process.

Tip: request 2 copies of your PCC for future use, it takes some time to request a new one, even though it is valid for 6 months.

Step 2: Notarized and Apostilled Photocopy of University Degree 

The Korean government wants foreign teachers to bring their original university diploma with them to Korea to present to the Korean Education Office when it is requested. However, in South Africa you have to apostille two copies of your University Degree. First, you need to make two clear A4 copies of your degree, black and white is fine, then you need to submit your original degree and the copies of your degree to a South African High Court to Apostille the document, thus authenticating it. You can opt to do it yourself, after receiving your PCC, together with your original and copied university diploma and take it to the High Court in Cape Town or Pretoria.  A more convenient way, is to use a courier service like Docs4Expats, that will Apostille all documents once they have received your PCC and your emailed copies of your university degree.

Tip: Wait for your PCC to arrive. Afterwards, take your PCC, original and copies of  your University Diploma to the High Court to get it apostilled.

Step 3: University transcripts

While you wait for your PCC to be processed, you can email your universities registrar and get them to mail you 2 sets of University transcripts. You only need one for the application, but a back up transcript is always helpful. You must tell your university to seal the back of the transcripts with the Universities official stamp. The transcripts must not be opened before coming to Korea, the Korean Education Office requests all of them to remain sealed and will not accept them otherwise.

Step 4: Passport Photographs 

Getting a good set of passport photographs for teaching in Korea is important. By the time you look again, you can’t believe almost all of them are gone. You need passport photographs for contracts, ARC registration, visa application, and a Korean Health Check.10 photographs should be sufficient and follow the Korean photograph guidelines, regarding size and posture. These should be 3.5cm by 4.5cm and in color. All photographs have to be the same shot. You can go to any studio or photo printing shop in South Africa. Make sure to specify the correct size and color.

Tip: Ask for a digital copy in the correct sizes, then you could just reprint it at a studio in Korea.

Extra Tips:

  • Make sure your passport is valid for the duration of your stay in Korea
  • Apply at AA for an International Drivers Permit
  • Have photocopies of all original documents, and authenticate them at SAPS

How to Obtain Your Visa Documents in New Zealand to Teach in Korea

Kia Ora, my name is Samantha and I’m from originally from Taranaki in New Zealand. I graduated from Victoria University with my BA in English literature and Theatre which I then followed up with a Diploma of Primary teaching. Now my partner and I are both currently in the recruitment process with Aclipse to teach in Korea. Having recently obtained our visa documents for Korea, I wanted to provide some insight into how to make the process less stressful and help answer some of the questions many candidates from New Zealand may have.  I am confident if you just follow the steps below that you will successfully obtain your documents without any issues.

Step 1: Apply for a Criminal Background Check

The first thing my partner and I did was apply for a criminal background check which was free. Make sure you apply early as it can take up to a month till you receive it. We each filled out a personal request form from the justice department which you can find through this link: https://www.justice.govt.nz/criminal-records/get-your-own/

The website page has instructions on filling out your form and how to send it. While filling it out I requested both an electronic version via email and a paper copy which arrives by post. I took a photo of my driver’s license as identification which I attached to an email along with my form. I then sent it to the following email with my first and last name as the subject: criminalrecord@justice.govt.nz

* One thing of note when filling out the form, make sure the name you provide in the form matches the name in your passport.  This means if your passport has your middle name please provide your middle name in the form, and if your passport just has your middle initial, only include the initial in the form.

Example of a New Zealand Criminal Background Check 

Step 2: Once You Receive the Criminal Background Check

The paper copy was just a back up but all you really need is the electronic copy to be sent by email so you can then forward it on to the Authentication Unit. I attached an apostille form along with my background check to the email with a brief message stating what I was sending to this email address: auth.unit@dia.govt.nz . You can find the form to request an Apostille through the government website or by following this link: https://www.govt.nz/browse/nz-passports-and-citizenship/proving-and-protecting-your-identity/use-your-nz-documents-overseas/#how-you-apply   

The first apostille costs NZ$32.00 and any additional apostilles cost NZ$15.00 each. If you want both a paper apostille and an e-apostille, it costs NZ$47.00. We got both but you only need to send away a paper version. It will take up to 7 working days to process and the paper version will be sent by post.

New Zealand Apostille Example 

Step 3: Get your Degree Notarized and Apsotilled

The background check is a government document which means it does not need to be notarized like your degree will. Before you can send your diploma away to be apostilled it will need to be notarized by a public notary. I used http://notarypublic.org.nz/ to search for a notary in my area. I selected my region and it gave me a name, number and address to contact each public notary. A public notary is a lawyer who is authorized to authenticate your document and we made sure to contact them first and ask about the process and what the cost would be. Ours cost about NZ$100 each for the notarized apostille but check with your notary. In my case they were also able to send the document away for the apostille after they notarized it. My partner and I had to take some form of identification when we gave them our degrees so they could verify the documents belonged to us. The apostille takes up to 7 working days and will be mailed back to you in the post.

Step 4: Send your Documents.

Once we received all our documents my partner took them to the post shop to have them be mailed to the Aclipse office. One thing of note is although using a courier is expensive, you will have the ability to track your documents and they will arrive a bit quicker. However, my partner and I prefer to live life on the edge and sent them by air mail which is cheaper but the choice is up to you.

Once Aclipse receives your documents your recruiter will notify you and tell you if all the documents were done correctly, or if there are any issues that need to be fixed.  

Arriving in Korea: What to Expect

Big Move

Moving to Korea can be really intimidating. There are plenty of questions racing through your head, such as “Where am I going to live? How am I going to get to school? Will people understand me? Will my students like me?” We all worry about things we cannot control, so to lessen the nerves, at Chungdahm Learning you will receive a lot of guidance and help that will make your life easier and more comfortable. 

 

Support

In my experience, CDL offered a lot of support once arriving in Korea. The company is organized and knows exactly where each candidate will be placed. There is never a point when you cannot ask someone for advice or information about your new city and job. The HR department is really helpful and if they are not sure about a specific question you are asking, they will go out of their way to try and accommodate a response or a solution. Of course, not all situations are ideal, but as long as you accept this and embrace the environment, you will be more than surprised how helpful and caring employees at the company are. 

Arrival

The minute you arrive in Korea, CDL takes care of you. Pre-flight documentations and travel arrangements will be sent to each applicant, explaining in detail exactly how to get from Incheon Airport to Gangnam, Seoul. Once arriving in Gangnam, you will be met by a driver who will escort you to the Coatel Hotel. At the Coatel you will check-in to a room, where you will stay for the duration of the week. Most candidates will have one or two roommates, which allows for the opportunity to make friends with your fellow-trainees.  

Training

Chungdahm provides adequate training for all of its employees, which is above and beyond what other academies offer in Korea. You will be assigned an experienced trainer who will help you throughout training week. They are on-call for any questions you may have, and most candidates can email any questions about the training material and homework to their trainer daily.

 

You’re Not Alone

Since you are rooming with other candidates, you can also work together to complete the training homework and mock teach to one another at training centre or in your hotel room. 

Training centre is open late so candidates can have the opportunity to make use of the facilities in preparation of the mock teaching. Here you can utilize the smart screens and mock teach in a live environment. 

 

Team Manager

During training week, you will be contacted by the Team Manager of the location you will work at. During your first week of teaching you will receive assistance from your TM. They will be your direct line of communication for classroom and personal issues. Your TM will also help with communication between the Korean staff and any housing/banking issues you may be experiencing.  

 

The branch will host an Orientation workshop where you will get to meet the other employees. There might also be a Hweshik – a company dinner – that you should attend. Here you will be welcomed to the branch and get to know the Korean staff, faculty and management. 

Korean Staff

A Korean staff will be assigned the responsibility of housing and  ARC card registration. They will meet you during training week to set up available time slots for housing. You will join them and other candidates who are moving to your branch to see all the possible options.  

 

The assigned Korean staff will also arrange your ARC card appointment and make sure that all your documents are ready for your registration with the Office of Immigration. They will give you a list of things you need, so make sure to have your passport available during the first week of working at your academy. 

Also, they will help with any communication issues you are having with your landlord or if you do not know how to set up a bank account and phone account. 

Faculty Human Resources

Finally, CDL’s FHR department is readily availble for any enquiries you have about work and life in Korea. You can email facultylink@chungdahm.com anytime during your contract and they will be happy to assist in resolving any issues you are having. 

There is also Chungdahm TM that deals with classroom and material issues. They are also available anytime for enquiries, chungdahmtm@chungdahm.com 

 

Tijana Huysamen is a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people.  After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email tijanahuysamen120@hotmail.com to request more information on teaching in Korea!