Public transportation in South Korea is great in a lot of ways. It’s generally cheap, quick, and reliable. Subways operate in only a few major cities. By far the most extensive metro system is in Seoul, with several very long and interconnecting lines. You must buy a T-money card from a kiosk in or near a subway station, then load money onto it at the station agent’s window or at an automated machine (these operate in English and Korean, the station agent may not). You tap the card at the turnstile to enter the subway, and tap it again on your way out once you’ve reached your destination, and your card is charged based on distance travelled. The subways operate until roughly midnight, a bit later on weekends.
There are numerous steps to follow before one’s quest to teach English in Saudi Arabia becomes a reality. Don’t be surprised if some of the biggest challenges are encountered during the job interview. All your prior leg-work may be for naught, if you stumble seriously at this all-important stage.
Since April 30, 2010, the resident card you get comes with a letter which states that you can work anywhere in a specific field, such as education or engineering. With the card and letter you can work wherever you want in the field of education. This is a new change, which is great, because once you get the card you aren’t stuck teaching at the job that hires you, and you can quit or take a second or even third job. Also, it allows you to work anywhere in the country, not just the state of the school that hired you.
Other then the obvious language difference, there is a lot more to being a foreigner in Japan. Culture shock may or may not happen to you. It really depends on how open your personality might be or just how prepared and knowledgeable you might be of Japan. Below are a few important facts about Japanese culture:
Language can be one of the more daunting parts of living in Asia. If you are in or around Seoul you may find some signs in English and some Korean English-speakers, not to mention a large community of English-speaking expats, but if you are outside the capital city, English usage can be quite sparse. Most teaching jobs do not require any knowledge of Korean, especially programs that favor immersion-style learning. Many expats live successfully in Korea for many years without ever learning any Korean, it IS possible, but a cursory understanding can get you far in your day-to-day life.
I found my first job teaching English to first year students at a government-run college in the heart of the city of Guangzhou. The school was great, the salary was pretty good for the number of hours I had to teach, and they offered free accommodation! One of the reasons people choose to teach English in China is that schools provide foreign teachers with paid accommodation, but I’m going to tell you how to negotiate a higher salary and find a better place!
The typical day of an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) starts much earlier than that of a conversational school teacher and some prefer it that way. You usually arrive at school by 8AM. In 99% of the cases, you will have your own desk within the office for you to prepare for class. Greeting the staff with a simple “ohayo” or good morning is recommended.
The commercial or “visit” visa is designed for the businessman who might make multiple entries into Saudi Arabia over several months. It may be possible to teach in the Kingdom while carrying such a visa. However, you could find yourself crossing over into a neighboring country, every month or so, to keep your job and maintain your legal status.
If you intend to live and work in Saudi Arabia, the best alternative at the time of entry is the work visa, as it will eventually lead to the issuance of an Iqama, the rough Saudi equivalent of a “Green Card.” Once within the Kingdom, those of us who are not Saudi citizens require Iqamas to obtain almost any service we might have a hankering for. For example, if one wants to purchase private Internet service, you must first have an Iqama. A bank account? Show your Iqama. Need to transfer money back home? Iqama, please.
If you are looking for an online TEFL certification that is recognized in Saudi Arabia, take Ontesol’s 250-hour course with Practicum.
Finding any TESOL job in China, let alone a good one, was not easy for me. As I had mentioned in my first post, I am a Canadian of Chinese descent. I look Chinese and you wouldn’t believe how often I was told by Chinese people in China that my English is very good. In my job search, I stumbled upon a forum that discussed Chinese-looking people wanting to live and work in China. The main message was loud and clear: DON’T DO IT. People reported facing difficulty finding jobs and discrimination. Still, I was determined to go.