A Miserable Turnabout.

I haven’t posted in a while, but there is a pretty good reason. If you’re thinking of going to a foreign country to teach English, particularly to Korea, you’ll probably want to read this post.

So to start, a small amount of backstory. I had an agreement with a school in Korea. I signed this contract towards the end of November with all of my paperwork in hand with the exception of my FBI background check. The school asked me when I expected to get the FBI background check, and I had estimated that it would arrive Jan. 5, but obviously I have no control over any of it. The school was well aware that I would need to send the documents to the secretary of state for the apostille. The document arrived on the 7th, two days later than I thought it would. To compensate for the time difference, I decided to drive from Knoxville to Nashville to complete the paperwork by hand. The last post describes that trip and how awful it was.

As soon as that was complete, I mailed the documents express mail and then waited for a week. I heard nothing from my agent, so I emailed him. His response was horrifying. Here:

James,

I was going to email you actually as I received your docs yesterday.
James, I have a situation here with the school. The school was very angry that the docs got here late. She who did interview with you said why it took such a long time for your docs get here.
From the beginning I said that your docs will get here some time this week as you said you would receive the docs  like Jan 5th or so. I told them exactly what you told me. Having said that the school has been very impatient and asked me the question that I have no control of. I can not process the docs here you see. All we can do is to wait until you receive the docs.
So, I have to get you a new school now. I will contact some schools for you and let you know.
I am sorry about this but she was very unreasonable with timing which I have no control over it.
I will keep you updated.
Obviously, this was a terrifying problem. I already arranged to sell my car, move out of my apartment  and quit my job in only nine days. I thought I had a sure thing, but it had been smashed. This really disappointed me. That is a massive understatement. The continuation of this story will be after the cut.
Fortunately, my agent got me interviews with two different schools. One was in Seoul and the other in Incheon. The interview with the school in Seoul didn’t go as well as I would have hoped. They requested a teaching demonstration, but didn’t give me much to go by. I prepared a grammar lesson for them, but they wanted me to start over and give a different kind of lesson. I had to wing it and I still wasn’t sure what they expected of me, it wasn’t like I had a curriculum or anything. They said I was nervous (which was true) and they wanted me to arrive on the first of February, which is faster than my visa could process. I didn’t get the job.
The second interview was much better. I liked the woman who interviewed me and she thought I’d be a good fit. She wants me to start ASAP, which is when my visa finished processing (probably around the 15th of February). The visa paperwork has been submitted and I’m back on track. Instead of living in Daechi-dong, Gangnam, Seoul, I will now be in Bupyeong, Incheon. I think if the original school was going to be this unreasonable about something I couldn’t control, they would probably be awful to work with. This past week has been stressful, but it was probably a blessing in disguise.
Initially, when I got the contract and started working on this blog, I purposely did not mention the school I had a contract with. I was going to hold out until I had been working there for a bit so I don’t misrepresent my new employer. Well, they aren’t my employer now. The school I originally signed with was Daechi Wonderland. Now, the moment I heard the name “Wonderland” I was skeptical. Wonderland has a terrible reputation. But, to be fair, they are a chain and any time you have a chain there are weak links. So I scoured the internet for reports on this particular Wonderland. I found an old post by a former teacher there that was positive, but nothing else. So I talked to a teacher who was currently working there. He sounded pretty happy with the job. Additionally, the school had told me that this was the original Wonderland. The others were opened by the same guy, but he then sold them and has lost control of their actions. And that those schools were tarnishing the reputation of the original.
I wanted this to be true. And I wanted to live in Seoul. And my agent said he thought this school would work out. So I went with it. I thought I’d give them a chance, since I couldn’t find anything about Daechi Wonderland specifically. Unfortunately, Daechi Wonderland suddenly acted unreasonable about my paperwork even though they had previously told me everything was fine. They betrayed me and put me in a tough spot. I cannot speak to how the working conditions are at the school, but I can say that if my agent wasn’t as skilled as he is, Daechi Wonderland’s actions could have caused me to be without a job, without an apartment, and without a car. I would advise anyone considering teaching in Korea to avoid Wonderland. Play it safe. Maybe others have been luckier than I have with Wonderland. And really, what happened to me could have been so much worse. Signing with them might work out, but why gamble with such high stakes for no reason?
Also, special thanks to ESLcom. That is the agency that I’ve been working with and they have taken great care of me. My agent really pulled through after Wonderland fell through and he got me a new contract fast enough that I didn’t need to alter my timetable. In fact, I’ll probably live in Korea five days earlier now!
Days remaining at work: 2
Days remaining in the USA: 17
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~ by James on January 30, 2012.

5 Responses to “A Miserable Turnabout.”

  1. Man, I’m glad everything’s finally working out for you. I cannot even begin to imagine how stressful it must be to realize that all the plans you’d been making for months will not work at all anymore due to the unreasonable impatience of a school. Not to mention the fact that YOU were already finalizing your end of the plans, selling car, moving out of apartment, quitting job, all that. I’m REALLY grateful things worked out for you though.

    • I was pretty upset. I had just gotten home from Atlanta, where I had just said farewell to my paternal grandparents, my cousin and a couple of old friends. I could barely stomach the thought of having to go back through and tell everyone I had said goodbye to that my plans had fallen through. I had a calender in my room that I was crossing out and counting down the days in excitement. That calender had suddenly become a doomsday clock, counting down to the day that the triggers had to be pulled. But I think this is good now. Who wants to work for a company that can be that unreasonable?

  2. Well done on getting the job offer in Korea. I agree the Wonderland hasn’t got a good reputation, although I can’t comment first hand about it.

    I will say time frames which school work under can be tight as they don’t want a new teacher to arrive much before or after a current teacher has left. Although it wasn’t your fault and there should have more contact from the school IMO. I think its for the best.

    Bupyeong, Incheon is a nice area and right on the doorstep of Seoul, so you won’t be missing out by living there. Good luck.

  3. Wow, awesome blog layout! How lengthy have you been running a blog for? you make running a blog glance easy. The total look of your web site is excellent, let alone the content!

  4. Thank you for your post. Cool.

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