Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Shady recruiters, teacher workshops, and sunny beaches

Overall, our time working has been good. The director of Poly and her staff seem to be pretty fair and honest. Despite the long work days, we haven't really experienced any of the hagwon nightmare stories that seem so prevalent on the ESL teacher message boards. 

So, basically our experience thus far has been very good EXCEPT...

Our experience with our recruiter, Appletree Recruiting. Mark and I would not recommend them to anyone for any reason whatsoever. First of all, the staff we interacted with could barely speak English. Not a good thing for a company whose sole source of income is placing English speaking teachers in Korean schools. Also, once they placed us at Poly School they just sort of faded out of the picture. They are responsible for helping us secure our visa's so we can work, but they provided no assistance or advice to me in securing my F4 visa. And as for Mark's E2 visa..................

When we first applied at Poly through Appletree, we made it very clear to both institutions that we intended to arrive in Korea about a month or two before we started working. So in order to get the visa cheaply through the Chicago office, Appletree would need to start working on the E2 visa application ASAP. Mark sent all his paperwork to Appletree's Colorado office via priority mail and we waited.... and waited.... and heard nothing. Finally, about a week before we were supposed to leave for Korea, Mark contacted Appletree to check on the status of the visa. Many excuses were given, but bottom line was they forgot about it. They told us not to worry and that we could just take care of this in Korea. Not ideal since it would require a visa run to China or Japan, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Once we got in Korea, we had a little correspondence with Appletree, asking Mark to send and resend copies of various visa paperwork - yeah, they needed copies of the stuff that he already sent a month prior via priority mail, we figured they were pretty disorganized at this point. 

Mark is now approaching the 90 day limit on his tourist pass to Korea and needs to secure his E2 by April to stay here. So last week we received word that there was a mistake on his visa issuance number. It's an American number, so a simple trip to Japan or China won't work. And there's not enough time to get another number. So Mark is heading off to the nearest American territory, which would be Guam. Of course, this is a more expensive trip. He was able to convince the school to foot half of the bill since this mistake is on their recruiter's side. (Though Appletree called Mark the other day to berate him and basically place the blame on everyone else under the sun besides themselves: Mark, Poly, their grandmother's dog... talk about a professional organization.)

Anywho, there's a bright side to this. Mark is leaving tonight (Thursday) at 9:30 for this paradise. I think it's 80 degrees right now. I'm insanely jealous. His flight back to Korea is Sunday morning at 4am. I'm not jealous of that. :)


And the best part (for him) is that we have a mandatory all day teacher's workshop on Saturday for Poly. So while I'll be sitting in boring day-long presentations, Mark will be relaxing on the sunny beaches of Guam...

I've tasked him with taking a lot of pictures so we can all live vicariously through him. So hopefully there'll be a gorgeous blog post to come in the near future! Stay tuned!

7 comments:

Julia said...

Random trip, but it looks awesome! Do you remember Tessa Truesdale from SLU? She is over in Guam with her husband and has a blog, and her pics are awesome, too.

I'm sorry you have to deal with boneheads over there. How annoying. But at least it will all work out in the end.

Miss your regular posting, we need a Skype date soon!

Jen said...

Wow...what a disaster! I hope you're still enjoying the experiences (the good ones at least). Can't wait to see/hear more...

Anonymous said...

Kim, sorry about the problems you've encountered with Appletree Recruiting. What a nightmare!! Needless to say we won't contact them when we decide to do our year of teaching in Korea. Just kidding!Hope Mark enjoyed his few days in Guam and that he is now safely back in Seoul and everythink went smoothly. What memories!!

Mom said...

In case you didn't guess the anonymous comment was from me and strickly unintentional. I typed in my name before clicking on URL. If you guys had never gone to Korea I probably would never have learned how to do this in the first place! So, have a great day and we'll Skype soon. Love you, Mom

Frank said...

I think Mark concocted this whole thing to get a weekend vacation. Kim, you how he 'takes care of things'. This coming from Mark's loving (and realistic) Dad.

SenatorAtoms said...

I found this post when I was looking up Appletree recruiting on Google.

While it's too bad you didn't have a good time with them, I just wanted to put on there that I used them and I had zero problems with them whatsoever. So if anyone finds this blog after googling Appletree, keep in mind that not everyone has had issues with appletree.

Anonymous said...

I also found this blog while searching AppleTree Company information. From my experience with AppleTree, they have been the most professional and consistent recruiting company out there. While your personal experience may have not gone as expected, perhaps you placed too much emphasis on AppleTree helping with your visa. From what I've seen for me and 4 of my friends who have also used the company to teach in Korea, they've always been very responsive and helpful. Hope your travels in Korea went well, none the less.