Monday, December 29, 2008

Getting Started Part 1: Finding A Path

When I decided to finally make the move overseas I was at a crossroads, but then I suppose all big decisions are not made in a vacuum. For the last couple years I had been a customer service representative with a mutual fund company called Pioneer Investments which worked hand in hand with Merrill Lynch and based out of Boston. It was my education in the world of finance that I was sorely lacking up to that point. Being a musician and visual artist, the right brained skills of keeping a balanced checkbook eluded me and being the glutton for punishment that I am- along with needing a good job- decided the best way to learn was through immersion.

It was a trying and hard couple of years learning the new language and dealing with investors fears during tax season but around December of 2007 I noticed things were about to go really bad, really quickly. The buy-in amount for the mutual funds had been on a steady decline for a couple of months and that reflected the return investors could expect to see for their investments was drying up as well. In some cases it was threatening to go into the negative after years and years of rather steady growth. The gist is that callers were calling in with panic in their voices. People were beginning to lose money which meant they were losing their retirement. The company was tightening its belt and putting freezes on moving to other departments. By around February of 2008 it became apparent to folks a lot smarter than me that this was not going to stop anytime soon and, in fact, would get worse.

It did. I had just recently jumped ship and tried making a go with a Book Publishing Company while keeping tabs on good 'ol Pioneer. Soon the returns for most of the funds were at least -15% on a good day. Then Merrill Lynch completely folded. Soon afterward another custodian company Pioneer worked with-Wachovia Securities-imploded. Perhaps you've heard of the Ponzi scheme involving Bernard Madoff? Pioneer was invested in that robbery for over $101 million. All gone and never to be seen again. Things were not good in the financial industry to say the least.

Things were not going that well at my new job either. I had started at an ackward time for them when one of their long standing employees had a death in her family and I was given her duties to assume over those I was hired for. This led to months of secretarial work, which I did not mind, though when it came time for me to do the job I was hired for the grace period of my training seemed to be over in their minds and despite my protests to the contrary, I was held accountable for not having learned my job through osmosis instead of actually being trained. I was licking stamps for months, not learning my position. So for the benefit of everyone I gave my resignation and woke up in October with no job whatsoever and only a couple months of savings in my bank account.

Two weeks of worrying and a Google search later I discovered the Boston Language Institute's TEFL Program run by Siri Karm. An application and tuition payment later and I was enrolled into their 4-week intensive course in learning the Communicative Approach to Language Learning. I cannot recommend this program enough. Along with developing techniques to strengthen me as an instructor, Siri Karm also wants the teacher to be enlightened as a person and offered free Kundalini Yoga sessions once a week to help guide us towards our potential. The program's instructors were all very knowledgable and talented and ranged from the sympathetic to the totally unimpressed (the full gammit of life), never giving you the same angle of attack twice. In four weeks I learned that I was capable of doing anything and, most importantly, that I know next to NOTHING to begin with! So my work is cut out for me..

Once graduated they have excellent recruiting agencies they work with throughout the world and after hearing the benefits offered newbie English Instructors like myself, I chose the peninsula of South Korea to start my adventure. A fantastic recruiter with GoodEnglishFirst helped me secure a position with the LCI Kids Club in Suji-gu, South Korea. I am going to be teaching English and American Social Studies (?) to kindergardners through fifth grade. They will be paying for my flight over to South Korea and putting me up in an apartment that is fully furnished for the duration of my one year contract. I am finally employeed again!

So what do I have to do to actually get the visa? This is where it gets interesting.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mission Statement

Hello there, my name is Alan Adelberg. I was originally born in Louisville, Kentucky. I recently finished training at the Boston Language Institute and accepted a teaching position with the LCI Kids Club Private Academy in Suji-gu, South Korea, a town about 26 miles south of Seoul. This blog is to chronicle my experiences including everything from getting things in order here in the States to my eventual arrival and extended tenure in Korea. Fingers crossed but my goal is to be as frank and honest as possible, even to my own embarrassment if need be. I want to represent the experience as honestly as possible, including, but not limited to, all the times I am going to look like a complete asshole and put my foot in my mouth to the amazing moments of self discovery and experience that await me on the other side of the horizon. South Korea is 14 hours ahead of those of us in the United States. With that in mind and thanks to the help of a dear friend Candace Greenwood, I have chosen the title for this blog to be "East Until Tomorrow." I hope this can help those of you interested in moving to South Korea and for those of you without that interest, I hope it remains informative and entertaining. Even at my own expense :). Thanks for reading.