After having taught in China, my girlfriend and I returned to the UK and we quickly sought out another teaching job. We’d taught in three different schools in China between us so we decided to go somewhere different. We chose South Korea for its high wages and small class sizes, in essence, the complete opposite to what we had experienced in China.
We searched through many teaching recruitment websites, found some good jobs and applied. We got responses overnight for jobs looking for new teachers asap. We were eager to go away straight away, however, we weren’t quite aware how long the documentation takes to prepare. Unlike China whereby the school will do nearly all the visa work for you, for Korea the documentation takes months to acquire and costs a lot of money! When you embark on collecting the documents you really must be serious about going away.
So with this information we looked at jobs starting in a couple months time. It is now September 29 and Longbridge Pacific contact us with a position. It’s for a couple to teach together at Pyeong Taek Language Institute , it had a high wage, was a private institute and started late November which gave us two months to collect the documents, perfect… or so we thought.
We said we liked the sound of it and said we would like to apply for the position. We started to collect our documents needed for the visa and two weeks later (October 13) Longbridge put us in contact with the school over the phone, we had an interview and were told that the school “is very satisfied with your interview with Sarah, their foreign head teacher! He would like to offer you the position and is convinced that you will be great teachers within their team!” Great we thought.
We read through the contract and thought it looked okay. However, we were told that the start date would now be early December instead of late December, a sign for bad things to come…
Fred, Longbridge’s recruiter gave us a list of what we needed to collect for the visa. It was as followed:
A photocopy of the picture page of your passport (passport valid for at least one more year). 2. Your resume (signed by yourself). 3. A notarized copy of your University degree diploma with an Apostille (notary must be done by a lawyer for £30, apostille must be sent to legislation office and signed for another £30) 4. A copy of the contract with the school signed.5. Three passport-sized photos in color of yourself (£5 from photo booth). 6. E-2 Applicant’s Health Statement form filled. 7. Criminal Record Check (£25 and told can be got from police station for £10, very wrong!) with Apostille (another £30). Longbridge never told us that the criminal check had to be notarized by a lawyer (another £30) so had to be sent back from the legislation office, signed and then returned for the apostille. This made the total of what we had paid so far £150.00 each (approx $230) plus postage, which wasn’t cheap.
During this time, our documents were delayed by Fedex when documents had to be returned when Longbridge hadn’t informed us that the criminal check had to be notarized. We informed Longbridge Pacific who said that the start date would now be February! Not December, not November, but February! We weren’t impressed, it was only Nov 1 and the documents had only been delayed by a week, still plenty of time to start in a month. We told them that we weren’t happy to wait nearly four months when we were originally told that we were to be starting at the end of this month. We were then told by Fred that the delay is “because of how the beginning of new sessions work at their school. We are hoping that you will be able to adapt well to this change.” Thanks a lot for the help we thought.
We asked Longbridge daily if we could start in December, or even January and when our documents were ready to be sent on November 4 to Korea by express mail to be delivered November 9th we were told “Sure, we still can give it a try for a start in early December.” By the way, postage to Korea cost another £60 bringing our total to £180 each ($280 U.S).
The documents arrived to the school in early November, approximately a month away from the December start date, from research we saw that it then takes only a few days in Korea for the visa to be processed. It had all worked out and we could be off in a few weeks… or so we thought. Fred replied to our email, stating that the school no longer wants a December start date, they suggested another school that we could go to for December. We had heard about recruiters using this ‘bait and switch’ where you apply for one school, are told that it is no longer available but conveniently there is another school available, so suffice to say we weren’t too keen.
We asked Fred though why December wasn’t possible and we got this rude response: “Well, unfortunately things don’t always work out the way we want them to, and it’s just the way life is… The reason for the change is about the timing of different sessions start, staff requirement in balance to new students enrollment, and therefore your position was pushed back to February. Nothing less, nothing more.” Very rude we thought.
“I know if is sometimes hard to accept news that disturb the course of what we had planned or that we had our hearts set on, but what can we do.” Thanks for the help we sarcastically thought. So we had an interview with the other school and weren’t overly impressed. We told Fred that we had set our hearts on the original school and would like to stay there even if it meant having to wait over three months for the start date. He said he would see.
We were never told when the February start date would be so we asked Fred so that we could get a time frame so that we could possibly get a part-time job for a couple months and say goodbye to friends and family. It is now November 23rd and Fred tells us that the school’s “current couple teachers completing their contract in February just decided to resign for another year, therefore making this position disappear, which is unfortunate for you.” We were speechless, from November, to December, to February to no job and down nearly £200 each and a waste of two months work! I believe that there never was a position for this school but they lured us in to this attractive sounding school just to give us another one as soon as they received our documents.
He finished his email by saying “we wish things would have ended as what we were all hoping for, but unfortunately it basically never is the case.” Hahahaha, that’s terrible we thought, the recruiter is telling us that things never really work out. We wish he could have told us this before and saved us time, money and some headaches.
So we ask if they could send all the documents back to us in the UK and unsurprisingly Fred wasn’t overly keen, instead suggesting “to save some precious money I’m sure you have an address in Korea the documents can be sent too”. Thanks again for your help Fred.
We are now waiting for our documents to be sent back, knowing how long it takes this company to reply to emails it’ll probably be a very long time before we receive them… if ever.
To sum up, I can’t stress enough what a pain it was to deal with Longbridge Pacific. They were rude, unprofessional and discourteous. They wasted our time and our money. We never really got a proper apology we were instead told that this isn’t an uncommon occurrence. I wish we had looked them up more on the internet as well, if you do you will find quite a few other people complaining about their poor experiences with them. All we can say is do not under any circumstance deal with Longbridge Pacific if you are thinking of teaching abroad; most likely you won’t even leave your home country.