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23 March 2008 @ 10:03 pm
Mokdong SLP  
Hello everyone!

I just signed a contract as an English teacher (one of the many, I know) for Mokdong SLP in Seoul. I'm sure I'll have many questions (though most have already been answered as I've fished through back posts), but for now I was just wondering if anyone has taught at/knows someone who taught at/knows anything about the school itself. I'll be going regardless, but it would put me more at ease to know whether the school has a decent reputation, having already read all of the hagwon horror stories.

Otherwise, I'm not sure how many of you have actually gone through the new visa application process (I'm from the US, by the way), but the school wants me there mid-June and I don't graduate until May 4. Slightly over a month seems a bit unreasonable to get a visa, but I'm not sure. Comments?

Thanks for all of the help in advance!
Elaina Stoneelainastone on March 24th, 2008 03:04 am (UTC)
Tell them you will contact them WHEN you get your VISA and set up a time to arrive AT THAT TIME. Do not, under any circumstances, go before you get your Visa. It's just a bad idea all around. If they drop you (unlikely), then there are other schools in Korea. That is one thing you just can't compromise on and have to stay firm with. Others haven't, and it becomes a big problem.

On the same note, never let them talk you into giving them your passport. ;) There are plenty of websites that are out there to help you. Make sure you do your research just so you know.
유서yuseo on March 24th, 2008 03:11 am (UTC)
Absolutely, there is no way I would ever go without getting my visa first. But I wasn't quite sure how it worked with them booking the flight (since they're paying for it), whether they book it before of after I get my visa, because if they book it before and it turns out I won't be there mid-June, they'd have a problem (which they'd be upset with me for, I'm sure...and I'm not just saying that because it's Korea, because I'm sure any employer in the world would lay the blame on the individual first). So I guess I will just keep in touch with them then, and if it turns out to be the last week in May and things aren't moving too fast, I'll give them a heads up?

Isn't there a point in the visa process where I do have to give them my passport (I know I just need to send them a photocopy first)? Or is it when I actually arrive and need to get a resident card?

Thanks for the advice, it is greatly appreciated!
Elaina Stoneelainastone on March 24th, 2008 04:37 am (UTC)
Oh, if it's a government office asking for your passport, by all means, give it. I had to mail mine in to the embassy (but I think the rules may be different now). I meant the school.

Now, see, how my school did the whole airticket thing, I had to actually get the ticket and ended up paying for it. They reimbursed me. There's a lot of people that would advise against doing it that way, but I went through an agent I trusted well enough to stand for me if necessary. Personally, I don't think it's smart to get a ticket before having the visa, or at least before you have a pretty good idea when it'll be coming in (and always take the later of the estimate dates: I did and added a week to it, so I was super sure). The estimate dates I received were exactly right for getting the visa--it seemed like the website (I used the Atlanta embassy) where I mailed in my passport to get the visa had how long it'd take them down to a science, and I had a fairly good idea how long it'd take to mail back and forth from Atlanta. I even knew where I'd be when they tried to drop it off, so I made it so I had to sign for it because I knew I wouldn't be home and didn't want my passport just in the mailbox. I wouldn't expect that sort of efficiency all the time, but I was impressed with the American side of the government stuff, as well as the Korean when I got here. I would suspect all well developed governments are efficient based on need, but then mistakes are always possible (and heard of!).

All a matter of logic, common sense, and preference I think. 'Luck! Where in Seoul is this school of yours, do you know yet?
유서yuseo on March 24th, 2008 05:12 am (UTC)
Ah, right right. I asked them about the reimbursement thing, but they said it's completely on their end (which is the only way I'd take the job, because I totally can't afford to put money for an air ticket up front right now and hope to start myself off without starving the first month). The way the recruiting agency runs, they don't book the flight for you until the visa stuff is sent anyway, and I'm sure I can ask them about that if I need to. I was reading up on someone who had to get it done and it seemed to take them no more than two weeks, and in that time frame I should be fine. But like you said, you never know when something will go wrong. Basically, I have enough sense to not jump when the school says jump, I just don't want them to freak out and/or fire me before I'm hired if they find out I won't make it there exactly on time for some reason. I'm more than happy to leave earlier, but the job was originally supposed to start in August - then the school director asked me to come for an earlier session. It's refreshing to hear some success stories from the embassies though!

Thanks. :D It's in Gyeonggi (the address is Mok-dong, Yangcheon-gu).
유서yuseo on March 24th, 2008 05:25 am (UTC)
By the way, I apologize if I was unclear in my original post - I didn't mean I wasn't going to get a visa, haha. I just wanted to get a feel for how long it usually takes to get one so I know what to expect and how much I need to be worrying about, I guess.

Lo mejor es que tropiezo con menos problemas, sabes? ;)
Elaina Stoneelainastone on March 24th, 2008 05:49 am (UTC)
Heh, you weren't unclear as much as I read into your question. I'm afraid I've read of too many people, and know someone, who have made mistakes with visas and passports they never should have made and jumped on that rather than actually considering what you were asking. I know how urgent anyone from any agency can sound, like it's a dire need to have you then and THERE. A little over a month sounds like a very reasonable amount of time, yes.

Por supuesto. Y por eso, la otra cosa recorder es anticipar nada mas que el peor. I found that helped me immensely in falling in love and staying in love with where I am, despite the differences.

You made my day a little happier with the Spanish.
유서yuseo on March 24th, 2008 06:04 am (UTC)
Ok, great. Of course the director said it was, but I'd take the word of anyone here over that of "the man," you know? :P Which is why I'm glad communities like this exist, because I can get my questions answered, bullshit-free.

Tienes razón, y estoy de acuerdo, completamente. Yo pienso que estoy una persona sin prejuicios (con un "mente abierto," por decirlo así), pero necesito anticipar "lo inesperado." Por mi, vivir en Corea estará un reto, y me gustará los retos. ;)

And where are you, exactly? Also in Seoul?
je11ifyshje11ifysh on March 24th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC)
There is a facebook group called: I Survived (am surviving) SLP Korea (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2310418837). They may be able to tell you a bit. I've never worked at one myself.
유서yuseo on March 24th, 2008 02:52 pm (UTC)
Oh jeez...Thanks, I'll check it out.
Vanya Lasagna: Banana Sausagetwiggypiggy on March 24th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)
Hey I saw your post- I am moving to Seoul at the end of May and i will be in Mokdong as well! I will be at W language institute. There is a facebook group called I live in Mokdong- you should join it. Write me, we should be friends! :)
유서yuseo on March 24th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
-Off to find Facebook group-

Oh my goodness, absolutely! I'll definitely be looking for people to bond with over there! My e-mail is deathforest@gmail.com, if you need it. Might I add you as an LJ friend? ♥

Edited at 2008-03-24 06:08 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
유서yuseo on March 25th, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
Exactly, I hear that with many state universities you won't even get your diploma for awhile. I go to a private university, and they told me that I will actually have the diploma in my hands the day of the ceremony (and I asked them multiple times just to clarify). I just hope to god they're right.
My Canada includes smoked meat!mindme on March 25th, 2008 01:42 am (UTC)
Now nothing is ever certain about Korean immigration but I was under the impression you can't get your visa unless you have your actual paper diploma. Official letters aren't usually accepted.

Will you have your sheep skin in time?
유서yuseo on March 25th, 2008 02:21 am (UTC)
Are you referring to me or to silent_whispers? As for me, I will get my diploma May 4 and then plan on getting it notarized so I don't have to send the original. Sound like a good plan?
My Canada includes smoked meat!mindme on March 25th, 2008 02:31 am (UTC)
Right I was referring to you. Yeah, good to have the diploma in hand. Remember to bring it with you to Korea (along with maybe another notarized copy and a couple sealed transcripts). You never know when you might need to jump ship or suddenly Korean immigration decides all ESL teachers need to come to immigration so they can look at their paper work yet again. Pretty much every time there's a big fake degree scandal, Korea immigration decides to do some kind of ass covering move.
유서yuseo on March 25th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
Should I bring the original? I was trying to avoid it at all costs, but what must be done must be done. Thanks for the suggestion about the extra copies though, I didn't think of that. I'll milk my registrar for all they're worth.
My Canada includes smoked meat!mindme on March 25th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)
유서yuseo on March 25th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC)
Thanks very much...yes, one of them had a fairly positive review, while one had a negative one. I'm really not sure what to make of all this, but I've signed the contract and am still looking forward to it, so I guess I'll just keep enough money on my back in case something happens.

My Canada includes smoked meat!mindme on March 25th, 2008 02:33 am (UTC)
My feeling on a negative review when there are a couple good ones is the person doing the negative review was probably the one with the problem. The teacher before me was fired. I'm sure she'd give the school a negative review. But apparently she spent most of her time screaming at the front desk people because they didn't put enough forks in her free apartment and crap like that. But I lasted four years at that school and never had any major problems.
유서yuseo on March 25th, 2008 02:42 am (UTC)
That's so true. I'd like to think I'm a fairly laid-back individual - the whole point of working overseas is to take a break from luxury and explore, and I know some people have difficulty with that. In general, I'm capable of living extremely modestly and have been told that I have a good work ethic, so working a few hours of overtime that I won't necessarily get paid for, if I'm benefiting the students, isn't going to drive me haywire. Then again, maybe it's because I'll be "fresh out" of college and haven't experienced all of the wondrous benefits of the American working world yet (though at this point Korea is paying me more than entry-level in the U.S....INCENTIVE). Yet at the same time I can't financially handle things like, oh, missing a whole month's salary or not getting my return flight paid, so it's difficult to judge.

That was more long-winded than it needed to be, sorry. But you're right. I think it depends on your work ethic and some (I'm speaking of Americans here, from my own observation) want a job that revolves 100% around their needs and interests. It's hard to merge individualism and teamwork sometimes.

I'm glad to hear you've had a positive experience so far, especially enough to stay for four years! Might I ask where you are in Korea now?
(Anonymous) on May 25th, 2008 06:37 pm (UTC)
Mokdong SLP
Hi Usuishiro,

I just emailed you about Mokdong SLP. I worked there until recently. So check your gmail account if you want to get back to me.

Good cheer,
유서yuseo on May 25th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Mokdong SLP
(Anonymous) on May 25th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
Mokdong SLP
By the way, I saved a hell of a lot of ping living in Mokdong (about US$1500 a month), so don't worry about coin.