The process takes a little time. First step – figure out where to go.
I asked around and searched online and found myself a recruiter who finds native English speakers for schools in other countries. From there, a little online research helped me choose where to go. I learned that certain countries and areas tend to prefer native speakers from particular places. Asia tends to recruit most heavily from North America, possibly because of the volume of trade they do with the U.S. and Canada, whereas European countries tend to hire UK teachers due to the work restrictions of the European Union. Within Asia, I was most excited about going to Japan, because I have a high school friend there, and because they just sort of seem like the cool kids of the Asian world. They have anime and harajuku girls and sushi and high quality cars, and their electronics are all light years ahead of what we have here. However, they apparently know how cool they are, because it is much more expensive to live there than most places, and they don’t pay you enough as a teacher to really make ends meet. I decided instead to go across the channel to Korea.
South Korea is a very heavy recruiter of native english speaking teachers, so they provide the most benefits – such as paid housing and airfare, and they pay some of the best salaries in the world (which was what sealed the deal for me, since I have to make enough to keep paying my credit cards). South Korea is also safe and has a low cost of living, and is well located in that it is near several other countries that one can visit while there. So I picked the country. Then, knowing nothing about the country, I had to pick my top five location choices.
I left that until the last minute, of course. So, the night before I was to turn in my application to my recruiter, I spent 2 hours staring at my computer, aimlessly flipping through wikipedia pages, searching ESL message boards, and trying in vain to remember the differences between the names Chungcheong and Gyeongsang, let alone the actual places. Not to mention, it’s pretty difficult to determine where you will most enjoy spending a year of your life in a completely foreign place in 2 hours on the internet. In the end, I only really have a strong interest in my top two choices: Incheon, which is a large port city, and is right next to the capital city of Seoul, and Busan, which is a beach city on the southern coast. The jury is out on Seoul itself – it has all the great offerings of a major capital city, but also, from what I hear, all the overcrowding, and all the filth. It’s also heavily competitive and requires a separate application, and is automatically treated as your #1 choice if you so much as apply. I think I would much prefer to live in a next door suburb and visit on the weekends.
The scary/exhilarating part, is that they don’t tell you where you’ll actually be assigned until you arrive in the country for orientation.