I researched teaching abroad opportunities about 7 months before actually applying. There is a vast of information via YouTube and the web, including blogs such as mine. When I realized that S. Korea was the country I wanted to start teaching in, I focused my research on Korea and Korean culture to confirm if this is a place I really want to go.
If you're working, start saving money for future unexpected payments. It's not just about filling out your application and sending it off to Korea. You will be required to do much more than that before you even get accepted, like getting a full FBI background check, getting documents notarized and apostilled, acquiring a passport if you don't already have one, pay for your ESL certification, and much much more. All these things cost money that will add up in no time.
Make sure you get your TESOL/TEFL/CELTA or whichever one you prefer. I am currently almost in possession of a TEFL (2 lesson plans away). I decided to get mine from i to i because I was so confused as to which one was the right one (since there are so many) and Reach To Teach recommended it as well as provided a discount for booking one through them. These certificates are partially self paced but can take a long time to complete depending on the individual person. Self paced in the sense that you take your time on how much you're willing to get done in a day but you also do have an expiration date on a module, they usually give you 30 days to complete it. The modules are NOT easy and require a lot of thinking and planning as some of them will require you to come up with lesson plans with a given scenario. i to i is very thorough and they really test your knowledge of the English language, esp. the grammar section. I would never recommend what I did, completing 140 hours in a month and a half.
TAKE CARE OF BILLS:
Thank God that I stay with the rents and don't have much to get rid of besides two credit cards and my car. Luckily, my sister needed a car and I needed to get rid of one. That made this a little easier on me plus added some money in my pockets to finance my ticket to Korea. If you have more than I have to get rid of, handle all those things before the last minute. This is a perfect ending of Do's and beginning of Don'ts...
Even though this may be common-sensical for many, it isn't for all. I tend to procrastinate when I think I have plenty of time to get things done and that was mistake number 1. Because of that, I was late requesting my FBI CRC!! It usually takes 8-10 weeks to get completed but I happened to be lucky that it only took a month. Doing one module a day will not work when you have no time to waste and have to be certified by a specific time. Although I don't start teaching til' August, I already bought a ticket to travel elsewhere this summer so everything has to be done before I leave the United States, which is in less than a week.
TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER:
Even though I was done with all my classes for my undergrad in February, my commencement wasn't til' middle of May. I assumed I was getting my diploma during the ceremony.....uuhhh NO! I later found out that you get awarded a letter of completion on graduation day and your diploma is mailed to you 2 months post the graduation,which would mean I wouldn't receive mine til' July! I will be in another country in July!! This would have delayed my process and my visa documents, possibly messed up my chance to even begin in Korea. Long story short, I didn't allow the first no from the registrar's office to discourage me. I called back again, twice more and the third time it was a yes. The person I spoke to was much more helpful and sympathetic of my situation. She had my diploma mailed to me the next day. There may be 10 people unwilling to help and that 11th one may be just make all the difference.