This is usually a rare instance and will not happen to most people, but if you are part of that small percentage like I was, then hopefully these tips from my personal experience will help you get to grips with the unexpected.
Get confirmation from your boss
By this, I mean actual verbal (and if possible written) confirmation from your boss that you have been fired, and if you can, get them to state the reason why. The firing is not a sure thing unless your boss tells you themselves, and the reason needs to be a legit reason as per your contract agreement otherwise it is considered an unfair firing and is illegal. Also finding out the reason why you have been fired can also give you a chance to possibly overturn the firing, as well as seeing if it’s false. Reread your contract as well and see what it states in regards to warnings and firings. Generally, a contract should state you get a certain number of warnings with a waiting period to see if your actions change in response to the warning before a firing is even considered.
Basically, ask your boss directly to confirm your firing and why. Then we can go from there.
Take a weekend off
By this I mean, take a few days to process what happened and get away from the situation. This could be isolating yourself to collect your thoughts for a few days or hang out with friends as I did. When I got fired, some of my friends last minute invited me to their trip to another city with a friend of theirs as a distraction, and they probably don’t realise, but the trip and they had helped me so much. I was probably a whiny b*tch on the trip to some other foreigners we met there but it honestly helped me keep my mind off things and help me understand what I wanted to do.
If you need to isolate yourself to order your thoughts, I found writing my feelings, opinions, and ideas for the next step down really helped.
Talk to your friends and family
By telling your friends and family of what has happened about your situation, you have the chance to rant to someone and vent your feelings. Not only that, they can also be a very good source of support and advice. Not only that, your foreigner friends that you have been within your city can also have information about potential other positions available or soon-to-be-available in the same city or nearby should you wish to stay and move to another job.
When I got fired, the first thing I did was message my family and then my friends, mainly because I needed the emotional support at the time. Then, as I chatted more with them about my situation, my foreigner friends were really good at letting me bounce my plans off as well as offering vacancies nearby and one of the foreigners I hadn’t met yet was able to get me an interview with their schools director for a position that was going to be available a few months later. I honestly could not have come to my decisions or be able to fare as well as I did without their support, and I will always be grateful to them.
Explore your options
When you get fired, you generally have three options: find another job, go home or reverse the firing.
As soon as you’ve had a few days to collect your thoughts and feelings, it’s good to sit down and look over your three main options. The first being: find another job. Your first point of call would be your foreigner friends who have been there for some time; they would have insider information into their own schools looking for new recruits or even they would know better who would be leaving soon, and thus a vacancy would crop up in that school. They could also be kind enough to pull some strings or know someone who could pull some strings to get you an interview. Your recruiter, if you have one, is also a good place to start looking for a new job and they likely already have started looking as soon as they heard of your firing. Keeping in contact with the recruiter is a good idea during this tumultuous time, keeping them up-to-date on your decisions whether it be wanting to look in another city or even pausing or stopping the search all together while you collect your thoughts. Please note that if you are looking a new job at another school, in South Korea for definite, you need a letter of release from your current school in order to successfully move your place of work on your visa.
Your second option is to go home, once your notice period is complete that is. Once you make this decision, book your flight as soon as possible so you don’t have to pay too much for a last minute flight. Then you can make the necessary preparations to begin your journey home. You may also wish to delay going home so you can travel around the country and basically live as a tourist, seeing the sights the country has to offer, before catching your flight just as I did at the end of my time in South Korea, before returning to Northern Ireland.
The last option, not always an option in some cases, is try to reverse the firing if you can. The first thing would be to talk with your boss or the director, try to see why this has happened and see if you can resolve the conflicts that may have caused it. You can also discuss with the recruiter whether the school would be open to reversing the decision. You can also go to the ministry if the school did not give proper notice or if the reason is unjust. In more rural areas of South Korea, smaller towns and the like, they will very likely not have an English speaking worker there and will phone for translators. Do be careful when this is the case as sometimes things can get lost in translation. Also going to the ministry to attempt to reverse a firing can be time-consuming, but it is good to know your options. They can sometimes better advise you on what are the next steps after being fired.
So you’ve made your choice and now all we can do is wait until the time passes for your choice to come to fruition. Being fired is an insane emotional rollercoaster so it can be a huge relief to finally know what your next steps will be. From one person being fired to another, I know the feelings of uncertainty and even betrayal associated with it. But sometimes, like my case, your life can get so much better after you get fired and certainly, less stressful! So whatever your choice, I hope that you will be happier and better place in your life; and if you are just going through a firing, I know it’s hard not to worry, but it definitely gets better.
Remember, guys, at the end of the day you are the important one in your life and you should put your needs and wants first. Try to enjoy the time that you have in that country, despite the crap, but you do what’s best for you at the end of it all.
You are number one!