From black to white


I’ve got a job offer!!!

For quite possibly the best teaching position I could hope for here in Korea:

  • in the mountains, the beautiful beautiful mountains, (I’d already decided the job in the agricultural town in the South was both too isolated, too far away, and the students too young for my taste.  The cottage with garden was tempting, but coastal hills don’t comfort me like thickly wooded mountains do) in a rural town of 20,000 with only one older apartment complex (half the height as in the city) that you can still see the mountains past, on a river.
  • MANAGEABLE class sizes of 20-30
  • mixed gender classes
  • two fantastic female Korean co-teachers
  • only 16 classes to teach, and broadcasting a 10 minute English greeting/lesson to the whole school every morning
  • a technical high school of 300 students
  • the school is clean, it doesn’t have a dirt sports field, and it already has an English Zone
  • no hogwans for miles !!!!!!!
  • English classes are incorporated into the overall English GRADING system, so I won’t be powerless like at most schools
  • an hour by train outside of Seoul, soon to be a half hour by high speed subway by this summer, and the train ride is really scenic (see below)
  • the last teacher was there for five years and said the administration was totally supportive with everything he wanted to do or any time he had trouble
  • I’m free to leave the school anytime the classes are done and I feel I’ve finished my prep.
  • It’s the same pay I’m making now +$100 additional for its rural location

Basically, it’s already got all the things I’d hoped for and fought for but didn’t receive at my last school.  AND, just looking out the window is thrilling, the air is clean, there isn’t a crush of people being rude, the people are not pretentious and just look content.

When they handed me the contract to look at, I was disappointed to see it was the standard school district contract and I proceeded to tell them about my being blacklisted and how I could only contract with them if they gave me an independent contract.

They called the head of the school district and he told them that there is no blacklist and that I could be hired if they wanted me.  So that indicates that the blacklist I was on is independent of the school district and it is strictly the handiwork of the evil person running the Native English Teaching program and her recruiter cohorts, and she doesn’t have the final say in who gets hired.

They also called my references, who told them I was a professional and passionate teacher worth hiring.

Now, the only hitch is I also have an inside opening for a job that probably pays a lot more a month.  We’re talking a lot more.  However, this job would be 50-60 hrs. a week in front of a computer screen, which would leave me dead/drained.  I definitely would love to actually be exceeding my expenses for once, but not sure if the toll it would take would be too high.  In addition, this opening is two months away and not guaranteed, even though it’s probably mine due to being recommended internally and being the first applicant.  Two more months of uncertainty, and if I don’t get the position, maybe many more months, at which point I’d just have to leave Korea…

If I were to take the teaching position in the country, that means participating in TRACK would be remotely, and I’d have to move almost immediately and find someone to take over my apartment lease or maintain it at great expense, and I like the place I’m at and Mrs. Kim.

So I have until the 16th to decide.  In polling people I know, the Koreans tell me to take the big money (it’s also more prestigious) and the foreign teachers tell me a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

What to do???

How the Northern Han River looks from the train between Daeseong and Cheongpyeong
On the river north of Cheongpyeong is Nami island, made famous in the Korean movie, Winter Sonata

OK.  Can this get any harder?  I just got a message from the major newspaper that they would like to interview me and the job is probably mine – but this interview is AFTER the deadline to decide about the Cheongpyeong teaching position closes.  ARGH!!!!

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13 thoughts on “From black to white

  1. I know, me too…ME TOO

    But then I need glasses and I haven’t had a haircut in over a year and my clothes are always wrong and you kids need your teeth taken care of and I’m sending half of what I make right now home to myself to pay bills and that’s a major reason why I haven’t been able to enjoy Korea like everyone else I know can. And I hate seeing Jane’s face so bummed out. And I could actually SAVE some and get ahead.

    More money could do so much for me at this time.

    But then the last guy was there for FIVE YEARS and totally happy there. (He moved because he got a university position in Chuncheon, which is a gorgeous mid-sized city in the mountains about an hour east, and he just finished his phd, so it’s natural he’d entertain becoming a professor) But, of course, he also had a wife so was never lonely and she also brought in income. It would also mean being forced to learn Korean, which is a good thing…

    Agonizing…

  2. Oh! I forgot to add the principal’s son was one of my students this past year in Anyang, and HE gave me a glowing recommendation too! Amazing! I wonder which boy it was? Maybe a fourth of the boys actually cared about my class.

    Our school tested the highest in all of Anyang in English (probably by eliminating any social functions for the students and replacing them with test prep classes – poor kids)and most of the students also went to English hogwans in the evening. So there is going to be a marked difference between the student level that I will be teaching, which will be more like elementary or middle school. The student attitudes towards English will be sunnier since they have less stress about it, but it will also be more meaningless to them since most don’t hope to get a corporate job. There is some sleeping in the classrooms based on indifference, but not on exhaustion. They said the kids are pretty respectful, and I heard that my last school also had better than average students in that regard. (really?) The English teachers there also skip teaching speaking activities in the curriculum, due to the struggles over grammar not being grasped. But the one plus is the low class size and really helpful motivated co-teachers makes all of the above more manageable.

  3. Wow that’s beautiful! I vote for the mountains, too :)

    PS Be careful w. privates, even if your school says you can teach them, it’s still illegal… Sonja’s school last year told her it was fine, and she got slapped with a million won fine after only teaching 2 private lessons that she hadn’t even been paid for yet!

    Or is it different for F4 visas maybe? Is that what you have?

  4. Kelly! I haven’t seen you since your birthday… :(

    You know I live near your girlfriend, so you should call me up some evening when you’re in town.

    Private lessons are legal for F-class visas. It’s the only damned caveat about this stupid visa thus far: in all other regards, it has been the kiss of death.

    I asked the newspaper for concrete particulars and to speed up the interview process (which I doubt will happen) and I’m asking the school in Cheongpyeong to be able to choose my own housing and furnishings. We’ll see how it goes.

    Being in that little river (not the big Han river, but a smaller one that joins it) valley didn’t seem as claustrophobic as I’d imagined — I think just being SURROUNDED by those mountains elevates your spirit so much, it’s impossible to feel depressed or have that trapped-in-a-wasteland feel. It had a lot of life to it – and even though the commercial buildings were 70’s dull, the stores didn’t have the pallor of death to them like they do in my current neighborhood. I guess that’s what happens when big department stores and fancy boutiques don’t exist – the little mom and pop stores actually have a fighting chance and are more vital.

    The former teacher told me that Chuncheon has everything Seoul has without the negatives, and I know that there is a strong arts community in Chuncheon too. The new express subway from Seoul will only have two stops, Cheongpyong and then Chuncheon, so in either direction city life will be obtainable within a half hour. It’s an hour right now, and he says he always prefers to head east than towards Seoul.

    The other thing is my duties with TRACK have been increasing, (organizing volunteer meetings and public education campaigns) and there’s no way I could do that while the trains are running an hour commute right now.

    I’m actually really excited about Cheongpyeong. But to throw away maybe $1000 more a month seems really irresponsible too… :(

  5. Actually soon you and I will be neighbors too! Sonja and I are moving in together at the end if this month. Haven’t found our new place yet but it will most likely be in hannam or itaewon!

  6. Do you want to take over the lease at my place? Except for the condensation in the bathroom, (and you get used to it) it’s really a great deal price-wise. Plus, I’d let you pay me the key money in installments. And I’d leave the stove and refrigerator.

    Itaewon station is a 10 minute walk away, and Bogwangdong is much more of a neighborhood than Hannam.

  7. We are looking in a really specific area bc of my express bus to work, but thanks! :) maybe we will be neighbors briefly before you move!

  8. I was looking at that bus route once when I was considering a Bundang job. I’d have to take a neighborhood bus to the Hannam bus stop.

    Besides, since you are dinks, you can afford a really nice place. You could even get a high rise looking out across the Han! Probably the only time a high-rise is worth it here.

    Anyway, I’m really happy for you! No more going home to an empty officetel! Yayy!!!!

  9. But what did you decide?!

    Have been in such a state of disaster re: work that I forgot to read the blog for months. But I’m back now…academic papers are accepted, everything’s rosy…missing you…

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