I opened the Gyeongsangnam website and was greeted with this:
Well, there’s an answer! This, however, is still not in line with my original plan: take off a few months and go back to the USA. This guideline stipulates that I actually cannot leave the country between contracts if I want to work for the GOE this year.
It’s time for you to participate in a fun game show: what shall I do with my life? First, let’s review the background information.
Korean schools start in spring and end in fall, March to January. Teachers can get contacts starting in either fall or spring semester. Gyeongsangnam is the only province that hires monthly.
(Recall that I have an August to August contract which means in the middle of my year all the students moved to the next grade level. That’s why I now reference kids as “former fourth graders”.)
However, international schools hire in August. My plan is to eventually move to an international school for more classroom oversight, higher pay, and better benefits.
Now here’s the dilemma: if I start a Gyeongnam contract in an off month like October, I’ll have to wait nearly an entire year to start an international school position in August or four months to align to other Korean schools.
If I start a Gyeongnam or other Korean contract in March, I’ll be fully aligned with the Korean school year and when it ends in March I’ll have six months between that and the international school rather than an entire year.
Korean contracts are nearly always one year, no more and no less, so there’s no extension to be had.
So here’s the question. What’s the best course of action?
- If I am out of Korea for more than 90 days I will need to obtain a background check from my home country
- COVID is still surging in the US
- My side job is remote and can be done anywhere
- COVID vaccine may come out at the end of this year
- For now, anytime I leave and re-enter Korea I must fill out extra paperwork and complete a mandatory two week quarantine in government housing (a hotel that brings three meals a day right to your door; caveat is, you are not allowed to leave your room during those two week)
- The current setup of minimal student attendance, shortened days, mask-wearing is likely to continue all throughout this year
- There is no visa that allows me to just stay in Korea and hang out; I must be on a work visa or student visa; however, it may be possible to have a month or so between work visas (example: this contract ends in August, extend by 30 days, start new contract in October)
- I need to take the teaching exams in the US within one year of finishing the teaching course
****UPDATE: I called immigration and it turns out, they do NOT offer student visas for three months. I can in theory (and yes I asked the immigration guy this) sign up for six months of classes then leave whenever, knowing that I’ll be required to turn in my visa at the airport and get a refund for the missed semester only if the school is forgiving.