Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jen is on her way!

Just so you all know, Jen left this morning for KOREA! She’s taken a plane from Montreal to Toronto, and she’s probably on her flight from Toronto to Tokyo as I type. From there, she’s got a nice layover and then she’ll be on a plane to Korea. If anyone feels inclined to pray for safe travel for her, that’d be very nice of you :)

I’m excited for the next blog post! It will probably be from Korea!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Montreal at dusk...

So I am definitely sitting here, in the hotel, vegging. What better thing to do than update the blog with the somewhat boring details of my journey thus far??

So I got to the Halifax airport and with incredible relief, discovered both my suitcases were JUST under the weight limit (!!) and my carry-on bags were the perfect size. I killed some time with my sisters and then went through security and, because of supreme foresight, I did not pack ANYTHING that would cause a holdup :-)
Then I sat by my gate for about 45 min and did nothing LOL....well, except for thinking about the implications of this particular flight to Montreal (aka. THE journey was beginning and there was no going back)!
Once on the plane, I found myself seated next to a couple who, I think, were speaking a variation of German or least I was able to preoccupy myself by trying to translate (ps. Katie, you and I would have had fun recognizing random words like "Uhr"...or maybe that was second semester)...the flight was uneventful and went a lot faster than I expected! As we were approaching Montreal, the pilot warned us of the possibility of mild-moderate turbulence, which, of course, got me a little on edge BUT as we hit the slightly rough patch I distracted myself with a completely boring Air Canada magazine and tricked myself into thinking I was on a bus going over a particularly rough section of road :D haha...I am going to learn all the tricks of the travelling trade by the time this is over.

Landing itself was uneventful...however, upon entering the airport I became slightly intimidated--especially when I thought about the fact that all the airports from here to Seoul are going to be MUCH bigger (Toronto, Tokyo, Seoul) and all but the first one will NOT have English as the first language...hmmm, shall be interesting. I struggled with my 100+ lbs of luggage (thank GOODNESS for luggage carts) and then had a most interesting experience with the pay phones as I tried to call for the shuttle service to my hotel. I called the local number and was told it was a long distance number and then I called long distance and was told it was a local number. Yes. Frustrating. Anyways, tried a few times, finally went to a counter attendent and found out that there are special phones that call the hotels directly (and you don't have to pay for the phone use!) I was directed by the hotel receptionist to the shuttle pick-up spot (sidenote: as long as you are willing to ask questions, no matter how stupid, you can't get lost)...

So, finally I was checked into the hotel and so I decided to go on the hunt for some food...I went to LeFleur Restaurant (a French chain of fastfood stores, I think) ... the food wasn't the greatest and as I was leaving across their parking lot I decided to take a picture of their know, the good tourist-y thing to do (since I had never been there before and I wanted proof that there are other fastfood joints outside the Maritimes) and I had the manager (I think) come out and ask me what I was taking pictures of!! LOL...all I did was mention that I had never been to Montreal before (aka tourist) and he left me alone...hahahahah Paranoid!!!

On my way back to the hotel I sat in a small park for a while and watched planes landing and taking off...(I can still hear them now, as a matter of fact)...and I kept thinking about how it would be me on one of those international flights REALLY soon...

So, I came back, asked the receptionist for a bus map/info, and THEN as I tried to get back into my room, I realized I had put my bags in the wrong room (!) .... but the guy at the front desk had already noticed so he came and gave me the key to the new room (LOL...couldn't help but feel really stupid!). Anyways, and here I am...sitting in my hotel bed, watching tv and updating ppl on life :)

Well tomorrow it is off to the Korean Consulate for an interview and passport return. So I will probably be waiting around that area of town as I wait for my Visa to be approved and my passport to be stamped....

Perhaps, if I have more time on my hands tomorrow night, I will write one last parting blog on Canadian soil.

Till next time, Cheers!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Now it's my turn to be guilty....

I have definitely not posted to this blog nearly enough in the last few months but I blame it on the insanity of documents, bureaucracy, numerous reliances on snail mail (tho it is actually called Expresspost, it is not QUITE express enough for my liking!), weekends (which get in the way of business transactions/operations), and also many last minute hang out sessions with fam and friends. However, here I sit, on this, the fourth last night on Canadian soil. Yes, that's right. My Korean adventure begins in: .......................FIVE days!!!!!!!!!!!

Because of delays and such, I will be arriving a day after my contract was to start which means training might be minimal or non-existent SO I go in blind! For those of our readers who are inclined to pray, I would appreciate your words to God on my behalf!! I am fully excited, partly nervous and just READY. Ready to start a different chapter--the post-university chapter--and I'm pumped to be living on my own again (tho I have an awesome roomie, Katie, there is something really independent about having your own place and I know she agrees!!)...

Anyways, I will be in Montreal for two nights awaiting the interview and Visa stamp that Katie was talking about in the previous post. I'm just doing it in person b/c I can't afford to wait the two extra days it would take for them to send my passport back....SO, while I am sitting in my hotel room in beautiful Montreal, I may find time and presence of mind amidst the excitement and dawning realization that this is, in fact, happening, to write another post .... we shall see!

Either way, I will definitely be updating when I get to Korea and can find some internet! WOOOOO, KOREA HERE I COME!!!! :D (that was for you Katie!)

Peace all!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

And all the documents are sent…

Today I sent off my final batch of documents. I will be very happy if I never have to send out an Xpresspost envelope ever again. The final round of mailings involved filling out the actual Visa application, sending a set of transcripts, photos, the 55 dollar money order, my passport, and the application itself complete with the Visa confirmation number I received back from Korea to the Korean Consulate in Montreal. In about 5-10 business days I will have had my Visa interview via webcam, my passport stamped with the Korean Visa and returned. All in all, that stamp will have been the most expensive stamp I’ve ever obtained – but I hear the benefits will be great and plentiful :)


I’ve had some questions lately from friends back home about what is included when signing up for a contract to teach in Korea, and so I thought I’d post it on the blog here to help answer some of these questions. In all the research that I’ve done, I’ve not found a place more highly recommended for ESL teachers than Korea. When employed by one of their private schools, they will pay for your flights at the beginning and end of your contract (to Korea and back to Canada – or USA, etc), as well as provide your accommodations (minus utilities). With the low taxes over there, living costs are significantly cheaper than here in Canada, and this allows for more savings (in my case they will go towards student loan repayment). I’ve heard countless stories of teachers who have gone to Korea and loved the area and the experience and we’re hoping that we love it just as much as they did.

If anyone knows anyone who might be interested in this kind of opportunity, they should get in touch with – I’ve LOVED this recruitment agency and they have been insanely helpful as we’ve been getting ready to head off!


If all goes well with the travel arrangements and the visa arrives in time, Jen is leaving in less than a week (wow!), and I will be heading off around three weeks later. It’s crazy to think that this is all going to become reality soon. I went in to the bank and ordered some Korean Won (thus emptying my account of Canadian Dollars) and it felt pretty surreal. I’ve also been preparing clothing wise, and making sure that I have a variety of work outfits for each of the seasons. It’s been an experience already!


As for fun things I’m looking into once I arrive in Korea, I’ve found the English website for the Global Missions Church (conveniently in Bundang) and looks pretty sweet. Check it out HERE.

Global Missions Church

That’s about all for now! Soon I’ll be blogging about the packing experience and how I managed to fit a years worth of living into two bags (+ carry-on) and under 100 lbs total.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Woah! It’s JUNE (almost)!

Wow. So I realized today that I’ve really been neglecting this blog. I can’t even say I have a good excuse. Since graduating, I’ve been spending most of my time puttering around my parents home, daydreaming about the future, and preparing documents to be sent to/from Korea itself and their Montreal consulate. *Warning* to anyone who might be considering TESL as a possible post-graduation option: prepping/FedExing/Express Posting documents is a wee bit expensive so you might want to plan ahead in terms of funding (check out costs of things such as passport photos -we needed six photos total including the two needed for actual passport renewal/creation, the passport itself, Express Posting/Fed Exing of documents, for a Criminal Record Check –vulnerable sector-, for notarization of this record check by a public notary – ex: lawyer, for consulate notarization of the record check by the Korean consulate, and for sending all documents to Korea later, and then resending all of this to the Korean consulate for the actual visa and the cost of the visa itself).

Whew. Expensive stuff, but I’m sure it will pay off in the end. I’ve also been trying to organize myself enough to have some sort of idea of what I am going to be packing. I have determined that my bags will be large enough to hold all my necessary belongings (lucky – they fit the size restrictions of both Canadian and Korean airlines), however the weight restriction (50 lbs max for each of the 2 suitcases) is going to cause some issues. I’m finding myself weighing everything that I add to the case, and am shocked when something as simple as 1 pair of winter boots takes up TWO whole pounds of precious weight! I’ve already reached half of my total weight allowance and have yet to add any clothing. I’ve concluded that this will be a fascinating challenge. Anyone know where I can find super-light-weight towels and sweaters?

On the other side of my life (the one which remains focused on events of the present day), I’m looking forward to the month of June. Promising to bring many exciting events (such as the birth of my nephew), June is sure to satisfy my longing for excitement. I’ll be traveling up to Ottawa for the last week of the month to visit with my awesome brother and sister-in-law and their son, and then, upon my arrival home, I’ll have less than two weeks before my next big life adventure begins :)

Jen is heading off in less than a month for Korea and I am thrilled to be able to live vicariously through her for a couple of weeks before I head out there myself. Jen, you are a brave soul! I look forward to all the international airport advice and the great catch-up session we’ll have once I have conquered the flight for myself! I’m hoping that you’ll be able to post some pictures of the apartment and area up here for us!?!? I’ll be so excited to check it out!

Well, that’s it for now I guess! Thanks to everyone who’s been keeping up with the blog ~ I’ve loved being able to catch up with some of you since I’ve been home!