LAX Airport—2.20.12

Sitting here in LAX writing my next entry on MS Word because free internet access in airports is apparently still not a real thing.
Anyway, it’s 9:55pm here (almost midnight back home) and it’s just been a complete whirlwind of a day.  That’s the weird thing about travel.  Just this morning I ws driving around a rental car and visiting my grandparents one last time and now I’m here in Los Angeles for the first time.  (side note: The little bit I’ve seen already makes me want to come back here someday soon and visit).  I really should have gotten out my camera on the plane because it was really awesome to watch LA appear out of the darkness on the plane.  The city just seemed to stretch out forever…and as we neared closer to the groun, watching the little headlights on the cars zipping through traffic, going about their lives, completely unaware that someone is watching them from the sky.  It was just beautiful.

Aside from LA, I’m also one of the like 20-non Asians that I’ve seen while in the intermational section of this airport, ha.  I know I’ll be in for a shock when I hit Korea.  Also, first impression of Asiana Airlines:  very friendly staff.  And al the flight check-in people were all young, attractive and female.

OI.  Sorry that this post is jumping around a bit, but there’s lots to talk about and my brain is feeling sort of scattered anyway.  Probably also shouldn’t go without saying that I was fighting through a breakdown earlier.  I started off in pretty good spirits…nervous, but overall, pretty excited.  It really stated to hit me on the flight from Denver to LA.  When we started descend, I guess I just realized this was my last American stop, last time being…well…comfortable.  This is my country….I know the language, the customs…and just…yeah.  I don’t really know how to describe it.  Part of me is clinging on to what I know and all that’s familiar.
It’s honestly terrifying.  There’s no getting around it.

I know it’s nerve-wracking for several reasons:
*new language…COMPLETELY new language.  There’s nothing familiar to even grasp at.  I’ve taken Spanish and Italian in school before and with that, I can sort of get a general feeling for other words based on the root…but not with this.
*New job—Um.  I’ve never been a teacher before.  What if I’m terrible at it?  What if I get fired?  etc. etc.
*Length of time–Ths is easily the longest I’ve been away from home.  My backpacking trip was for 6 weeks and that was more for the fun of it, and if I didn’t like a location, I could just leave.

It just feels very binding…and I’m scared as hell.
I know I’ll adjust and I’m feeling better now tha I got myself a bottle of ($3.50!!!) water and a sandwich ($8…wtf).  I’m trying to remind myself just to take is slow  Big, deep breaths.  This is all normal.  And to definitely cut myself some slack.  Of course moving to the other side of the planet is terrifying.  I just had a bit of a breakdown after I got off the phone with my brother (who didn’t realize that he couldn’t just call me when he wanted after this last phone call) and I tried so hard to keep myself from bawling in the middle of the airport.
Anyway, I’m doing better now, as I mentioned.  I have less than two hours til my boarding time and about 2 hours 15 minutes til departure.

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now.  Seriously hoping I can get some sleep on this flight.  Also, I’m seeing more non-Asians walking about…wonder how many of them are going to be teaching, like myself.

Currently Reading:  My Sister’s Keeper (Started reading it on my flight from STL to Denver, currently on pg 141.)


A Good Read

My friend Bethany sent me that link this morning and I wanted to share it.  She’s also teaching English abroad, but in Japan, and is currently on her second year…and loving it.
Anyway, she sent it over and said she thought of me when she read it…and it really is perfect.  Especially since today is departure day, and my brain is practically racing.  It goes back and forth between the possibility of failure/being horrible/hating it, etc. to the prospect of this really being awesome.

This is kind of a crappy post, but I’m in the middle of some last minute stuff before heading to the airport later today.  I’ll post again when I get settled in at an airport…probably LAX (last US stop before Korea) when I have a 4 hour layover.
Anyway, just wanted to share the link 🙂


Wrapping Things Up and Special Suprises!

Had my last day of work the yesterday (it already seems like it’s been days!)…went ok..just another long night.  Turned in my keys and swipe card…and…I’m done!  Weird..but exciting.
Then today I had my going-away party from my family, and that was really great.  I loved getting to see everyone 🙂

Love.  🙂  Also, I got two more bouquets of flowers 🙂  That makes my total up to 3 now.  I also got one from one of my locations for work when I left 😀
As a single girl, it’s pretty rare to get flowers so I get really excited when I do 🙂 haha.

Allllllsoooo.  😀 😀
I had been planing a bit of a surprise for my mom and brother over the past few weeks, and I got to reveal it to them today too 🙂  I got them both to go out to lunch with me today, and I revealed their surprises then.

Yep!! Sending them both on a cruise to the Bahamas in August!! 😀  I’m so so excited and thrilled that I can give them a gift like that.  I normally have to live check to check, and I know with this next job that I’ll be able to pay it off with my first payday, so I’m so thrilled.
Neither have been on a vacation in over 10 years as far as I can remember, so this will really be great.  🙂

I was also going to update on my nightmare of a car situation, but I’m exhausted.
So…next time.

Anyway…t-minus ONE WEEK!!!  AHHHHHHHHH!!!

Ugh. Let me get a bit honest here…

So, if you know me at all, you’ll know that I have a minor stuttering problem.  It can get worse if I’m stressed out or frustrated, but for the most part I try to keep it hidden.
Anyway, because of this, I’m honestly really nervous about teaching.  Mainly because my voice is supposed to be so important in what I do.  I also know that Koreans are very much about appearance and that sort of thing…so I’ve also been nervous that I’ll end up getting fired or something because of it.  😦  😦 😦  What a shitty reason to get let go from a job.
I checked (again) on therapy and my insurance covers a whole 2 (TWO) doctors here in the St. Louis area (out of a few thousand) that specialize in speech therapy.  One lady charges like $300/session and it’s a 12 week session…uh…I don’t have 12 weeks or $300.  So..I guess I’ll have to just chance the whole thing.
I’ve been thinking on this since I accepted the job, and thought more of it just now when I called the nearest police station to see if they did fingerprinting for visas.  (I need a second set to get another background check.  Hoo.rah.  And the other place I went to last time said you’re supposed to go to your city’s dept…whoops.  ah well.)  Anyway, apparently they don’t.

I’m just…frustrated.  I wish I could talk like a regular person.  My friends that know me would probably say that you can barely tell (because I work to hide it) or that they don’t notice it…and it’s not all that frequent…it’s just that it’s a constant struggle…for me.  Not being able to get out what you want to say, when and how you want to…it sucks.  It’s nice living around people though who already know about it, so I don’t have to keep explaining myself or apologizing.  Oh and yeah, when people think it’s some sort of joke or something I’m doing on purpose is pretty hilarious too.  I love getting mocked by people and told to “just spit it out”.  Right.  Let me just get on that…

Anyway, this whole vent started with my call the that police station.  I couldn’t get the word “fingerprints” out, and ended up having to force it out.  It’s just so shitty.  And then the lady on the other side sounded annoyed with me.
Ugh. 😦
I just hope I don’t get fired for something like this.  :-/

Somewhat unrelated, but I *love* this interview with Colin Firth about his role in The King’s Speech.

Contract: Submitted

I was offered a contract with this school a few days ago, and I had a bit of time to look it over and to send it to a friend of mine (that has been extremely patient and generally awesome through this whole process :-D) that has been teaching in Korea for over a year.  She’s on her second contract and has a bit more experience in what to look for than what I did.  Also, sent a few emails to current teachers at the school to find out what I’d be in for…and…after a bit of tweaking on the contract…I submitted it tonight.
Meaning..I now have a school to teach at in Korea and I start February 20, 2012.  Wow.
I’m a huge mixture of terrified and nervous and a bit excited too..but mostly nervous and anxious currently.  However, it is really nice to have that out of the way.

As far as paperwork is concerned, I believe all that I have left it to wait to receive my Apostilled FBI background check and to send all of my documents off to Korea.  Two things.  Wow.

And then, there’s the matter of telling my job and completely wrapping up my life here in the US by February…notifying cell phone companies, selling off the car, canceling insurance policies, getting in last minute doctor’s visits…etc etc.

Not sure if I mentioned it yet but I’m also taking a TEFL course online through ITTT.  So far, the course has been really helpful.  It’s basically a teaching certification that covers English Grammar 101 (and how to teach it) and classroom basics.  I still have a ways to go for the course, but so far so good.  I’m just extremely busy with trying to coordinate everything…but it’s all for a good reason, so it’ll be alright.  🙂  A huge thanks to my amazing set of family and friends that have been so so supportive.

Fairly brief post..but another milestone under my belt.  Good night!

“To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.”

A whole lot of “hurry up and wait” + Backstory

This first post is basically just going to be a bunch of backstory, and basically a place for me to log all that I’ve been working on for the past few months.  I’ve been abroad before, the most recent was a solo backpacking trip through Europe and the UK, and I really wish I would have written down all the work that goes into a trip like that before I went.
I had an amazing time, and kept a sort of journal while I was there, and hope to do the same while I’m on this trip…except now including the pre-trip preparations.

For the next year, I will be teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) to elementary and kindergarten students in South Korea.  I’m a traveler at heart, and love working with kids…and have considered being a teacher here in the US before…so this seems like a great opportunity.

The process:

So, assuming you’ve never applied for a work visa before, let me just tell you now…it’s a ton of paperwork (er..and money).
I knew that going into it, thankfully, but I did find out that the best way to do everything is by just taking it one day (or step) at a time.

I started this process back in October 2010 and aim to be in Korea by this February.  I have a friend currently teaching in Korea and she recommended using Footprints Recruiting to assist me with all the paperwork and getting everything ready for a visa.
I got in contact with them, had a Skype interview and talked with one of their reps on why I wanted to do this, why Korea, etc. and they got me started on the process.  I first filled out a form on their site, included my resume and current photo and was off!
Everything needed:

1. Authenticated copy of degree with Apostille (or Korean Consular seal if in Canada)].
2. Authenticated Criminal Background Check with Apostille (or Korean Consular seal if in Canada)
Teachers from the USA will need to submit FBI criminal background checks and this will take up to four months. (See the visa guide for more information).
3. Passport (a copy of the photo page).
4. Health Statement (in the back of the visa guide).
5. Footprints Waiver Form (attachment).
6. Go to Youtube and make a video sample for the schools to see. (See the Video Sample Submission attachment for more details).

Once you have sent scans of the above items to me, we can begin to introduce you to potential schools.

Other items that need to prepared:

7. University Transcripts (3 sets, MUST be sealed).
8. Your resume.
9. Digital Photo: This would be sent along with your resume, cover letter and voice sample to potential schools that you are interested in. Please keep the photo professional-looking: it will represent you as a teacher!
10. Five (5) passport sized photos.

Er..yeah..I’m a bit lazy and just copy/pasted directly from their email. 😀
The process is a whole bunch of hurry up and wait…everything is on a deadline for the most part, and most of the government documents can take weeks to be sent back to you.
The background check itself can take up to 6 weeks (sometimes longer from what I’ve heard elsewhere) to be returned…I sent mine in October, soon after I even first considered that this might be something I might want to do…and just got it back last week.

Anyway, that should be it for now.
I’m watching Elf and need to get some dinner started. 🙂

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
— Mark Twain