Monday, 7 December 2009


I'm nearly at the end of a character-destroyingly unpleasant period of my life. Since I finished at ECC at the end of June, I've been adrift in a sea of desolate unemployment. Scoot back to July: I had intended to return to Seoul with the SMOE, working in a public school, and it was all going smoothly. I'd gone home in good spirits (despite that taxing Vietnam holiday) expecting to enjoy six weeks in blighty, meeting friends across the country, eating all the food I missed, train travelling over Europe, pubs, etc etc.

All I had to do when I got home was prep my documents, which shouldn't have been a problem. Got everything I thought I needed and sent it off, but an email soon arrived - apparently I needed not only a letter from my previous employer, as in my manager at ECC, but one from my previous employer in the UK as well. I asked my old boss to provide me with one, then it was time for the trans-Europa express. I returned home two weeks later and still there was no letter. It took further badgering but eventually I was able to pick it up and send it off to Korea. I sent it Monday, it arrived Thursday. The following Monday there was an email in my inbox informing me that all the places were full and I wasn't going to Korea. I'd taken too long - or someone had. On Wednesday I got some even more devastating news, but that sorted itself out eventually.

So there I was. All my stuff - my suit, my shoes, all my winter clothes, my PS3, my orange folding bike - they were still in Korea. And I was stranded. It was the same for the guys I worked with, and so followed the aforementioned void of brain-clawingly frustrating workless existence.

Turns out it's a damn sight more difficult to get a job in Korea this year than it was in 2008. I must have registered with forty recruitment agencies and applied for scores of jobs - and the response was alarming. Ninety five percent of the jobs I applied for went nowhere, there was no reply, positive or negative. The rare occasions that I did hear back, there might have been a phone interview arranged for early in the morning so I'd get up, wait around, and.. nothing would happen. A couple of times I did get to speak to someone, but there was no follow-up. Then, at the end of October I had an email from one of the jobs I applied for a couple of weeks previously.

It was an English guy who was going to be opening a school in Incheon in January. He said he'd like to talk to me. We arranged a phone interview for 8am. I woke up nice and early and waited patiently. By 10.40 I'd run out of patience and went for a shower - it was almost 7pm in Korea. I did take my phone in the bathroom though. Just in case. I'd just got wet when it rang.

Turns out I got the job.

Still, I had another six weeks to wait and filling time was challenging. I watched most of the West Wing, then all of Battlestar Galactica and Band of Brothers. I started Mad Men. On one day, I watched ten movies, back to back. I've watched around 115 episodes of Urusei Yatsura. I started writing. I memorised all the capital cities in the world, and all the US state capitals. I became amazing at Kakuro, Sudoku and crosswords. I reached a personal record of 208 football keepy-ups. I bought known time-sapping computer games like Football Manager and Civilization. I went on morning cycle rides. I'm getting close to visiting every article on the list of unusual wikipedia pages. I took my elderly dog on inadvisedly circuitous walks. I read the novelisation of 24. And many more things I'd rather not revisit.

I start next week. I'm going to be a PE and art teacher.

Imagine that.

Since I'll be in Incheon, this blog will be inaccurately titled. If I do continue blogging I'll do it on another piece of blog. And it'll be miles different to this one.

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