Posts Tagged 'EPIK'

Ready for some Korean adventure? Apply now.

Applications to teach English in Korea’s public schools are out now!

EPIK (English Program in Korea) is the Korean-govt sponsored teaching program.  EPIK is the primary body responsible for hiring Native English Teachers (NET) and placing them in public schools (elementary, middle, and high) throughout Korea.  Micah and I are EPIK teachers.

EPIK hires NETs to start in either March or late August.

RIGHT NOW, applications for EPIK Fall 2010 are available.   I believe you can apply directly through them or do as we did…

Micah and I used a recruiting company that specializes in finding applicable NETs to work in Korea (as well as other countries).  We used Footprints Recruiting and felt they did a very good job in communicating information to us and helping us with the often times arduous application process.  But there are numerous recruiting companies out there from which to choose.

Micah and I are really happy with our experience so far.  I feel working for the public schools (rather than private academies) was an excellent decision.  Sure, there are MANY things that are very frustrating about being here and the way things are done…but it’s all part of the experience.  We’ve made some really great friends along the way and have been able to finance some pretty awesome vacations.

August 20, 2009 – just landed in Korea and off to EPIK orientation!

And of course, everyone’s experience will be different.  Where you live, what your school is like, what your co-teachers are like, how open/flexible you are, etc. – these will all play fairly big roles in your success and happiness living and teaching in Korea.

So…who’s up for a little adventure? 🙂

Hell phones

We imagined that in Korea we would have some serious kickass cell phones.  Well, that’s not the case at all.  As you can see by my title…we have nothing of the sort.

During our EPIK orientation, we signed up for a cell phone plan and received a “new” cell phone.  It’s a huge help and that did save us alot of hassle.  In previous years, EPIK teachers have had to wait two or three weeks before getting a phone.  We considered ourselves very fortunate.

However, it turns out that many of our “new” cell phones are previously used (and sometimes still has other people’s data on them).  Not a big deal.  Also, these “new” cell phones are really super old models.  They look like my very first cell phone in America…big and clunky.  Again, not a big deal. 

What’s the problem?  Our phones sporadically work.  One minute they work fine…and the next minute they give us some error and don’t work.  It often takes 5-10 times of taking out the battery and restarting the phone before it works again.  And even then, it may only work for a few minutes, maybe a few hours, and if you are lucky…a few days. But again…you never know.

And since we don’t speak Korean, and 500 of us EPIK teachers are under the same group plan – well, it’s hard to get help. 

On the plus side, our cell phone has become our TV remote control.  Yeah…seriously.  The cell phone has a program that allows it to be a universal remote control.  And since we don’t have the actual remote control that goes with our TV…the cell phone works perfect.

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Back online baby!

So, since we are “foreigners” in this country – it’s not easy getting things like a cell phone, bank account, and internet.  Many of our fellow EPIK friends lucked out and had co-teachers who co-signed for them and was able to get internet within their first week of being in Daegu.  However…Micah and I are both at schools where this is their first time hosting a Native English Teacher (i.e. our teachers don’t know they can help us out like this – and we’re not comfortable asking them).

But alas, we finally have internet at home.  No more waiting until we get to school to see what is going on with the world.

We can hopefully Skype now with people.  I say “hopefully” because the time difference is a little problematic.  An ideal time for people on Pacific Coast Time is when we are at work. And the ideal time for us to Skype is when most people are asleep.  But I’m sure we’ll work something out.

Anyways…had to share the exciting news!  Ahh…all the news and blogs to catch up on!  What’s this I hear about Taylor Swift and Kanye West?  Hmm…must go investigate. :-) 

Daegu nightlife

Daegu is a big city, and has a big nightlife.  Downtown is where it’s at, but stores in all parts of the city are open late.  Even the tiny little “shanty” places – they stay open until at least 10pm every night. 

Downtown Daegu is about a 15-20 minute subway ride from our place.  It’s not bad.  Downtown is a zoo.  There’s shops everywhere, people everywhere, and cars everywhere.  The cars drive down these little streets filled with people – streets that you don’t think cars should be driving down.  So you have to be on the lookout all the time.

Also, there are foreigners EVERYWHERE…and by “foreigners,” I mean Americans, Canadians, Brits, etc.  There are a significant number of English-speaking people who like to socialize in the bars and shops downtown.  It was a little weird to tell you the truth.  I figure, if the time comes when I want to just speak English on a night out – downtown is the place to go.

Last weekend, we met up with some of our new EPIK friends and went downtown.  One of the veteran EPIK teachers (who’s been in Daegu for 18 months now) was hosting a trivia night.  You enter as a team, pay 20,000 won, and the winning team takes all.  He was hosting it at a very popular downtown bar called ‘The Communes.’  Our team started out strong and then quickly went downhill.  The round of questions pertaining to “Life in Daegu” really killed us, since we’d only been there for exactly 1 week.  But fun nonetheless.

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Plus, got to check out the infamous “bagged drinks.”  There are four places in the downtown area where you can buy a mixed alcoholic drink…in a bag, a straw included. 🙂

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Our first weekend in Daegu

Apologies for the LONG post…we don’t have internet yet at our apartment (and won’t get for another week or two).  And I’ve just now been able to post some updates using the school computer.

This is the area we live. Our apartment is surrounded by lots of little shops (a lot of hair/barber shops), street vendors, restaurants and buildings we don’t really know what they are for.

daegu map

There are also lots of different smells. Some good and some bad…really bad. You walk by certain drainage grates and there are some pretty terrible smells that waft your way. But there’s no avoiding it.

And there is a lot of traffic. Cars, scooters, bikes – everywhere. If you’ve heard about crazy drivers in Korea – it’s all completely true. Scooters driving on the street one second, and on the sidewalk the next. Red lights are more suggestive at times. “Pedestrians having the right of way” – HA! When walking, you have to be on the look out at all times. This has been a very new and sometimes terrifying experience for me. However, if the old ajummas (that is Korean for grandmother) can walk in the middle of the road with cars whizzing right by and not flinch for even a moment…well, hopefully I can navigate Korea with no major harm too.

So…back to our first weekend. We spent the majority of the time fixing up our apartment. It’s a nice place: three bedrooms (one of which came completely empty), one twin bed in two of the rooms (yes, twin size), an older TV, washing machine, stove (no oven – they are quite rare in Korea), fridge, and a place to hang our laundry. Unfortunately, it did not come furnished beyond those things. We were expecting to have at least a few cups and plates, maybe a microwave and rice cooker – but not our place. (The housing for other EPIK teachers varied dramatically. Some had fully furnished apartments – including a computer with internet all set up, a queen size bed, a flat screen TV…and others had very small studios where your kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom fit in a very small room. I think our place is somewhere in the middle).

While our place was fairly clean upon our arrival, there was definitely a funky, musty smell coming from the bathroom and laundry area. I think there was even some mold on the ground in one spot. So, we spent a few hours just cleaning. Most of the smell is gone…but when we opened the washing machine, we found about three inches of old, stagnant water left in the basin. Yeah, gross. So we ran it a few times with no clothes to try and get the smell out.  We were only semi-successful.

On the plus side – we have two extra rooms! (We are using one room as our “entertainment/living” room).  So if you want to come visit…there’s plenty of room to stay. (But remember…only one extra bed – and all wooden floors). Also, only one bathroom. And our washing machine is in our bathroom. (Again, common for Korea).

In addition to some major cleaning, we did some even more major shopping. We found a Home Plus (like a Target or Wal-Mart) about 20 minutes walking distance from our apartment. We navigated the subway to get there and in the span of three days, we went there three times. We spent about 700,000 won already – for common household items and food.

It is money well spent. We are really starting to settle into our place and it is feeling more like home. There are a few quirks here and there that we have to get used to, but TIK (This is Korea!)

P.S. We did manage to have a little fun over the weekend too. We had dinner with our new EPIK friends, Charissa, Gabe, and Sydney and then met up with about 20 other EPIK teachers in downtown Daegu (apparently where all of the foreigners hang out). Although it had been only a day since we last saw each other, it felt like longer and there was SO much to talk about (our apartments, meeting our co-teachers, visiting our school, etc.). We went to a place called Bill-i-Bow, and for a few hours, it didn’t even feel like we were in Korea.

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On the bus and heading “home”

We had to get up EARLY on Friday and load the bus with our luggage.  Not fun.  And we had one last meeting, some last goodbyes, cell phone number exchanges, and photos.  Time to get on the bus!  The pic below is us with our group leader, Calvin.  He was awesome!

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Including a one hour lunch break, it took about 4 hours to get from Jeonju to Daegu.  I got a little motion sick on the bus…so the second leg of the trip, we sat in the very front row of the bus.  Right by the water – nice, huh?

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We unloaded the bus at some university building in Daegu.  We had to unload all of our luggage too.  In one room, all of us NETs (Native English Teacher) nervously waited, while in a room upstairs all of the Korean co-teachers nervously waited.  After a short time, we headed up to meet our teachers.  One by one, each of us NETs were called by name, and our respective co-teachers waved to us.  Most of them seemed to be excited and happy to see us.  After the last name was called…BAM…a whirlwind of activity.  Faster than you can say “annyeong haseyo” I was piling my massive luggage into my co-teachers little car – on our way to the apartment and to visit my school.  Micah’s co-teacher was taking him separately to do those things. 

Apartment:  I’ll write more about our apartment in a separate post…along with pictures.  Let’s just say “barely furnished” is an understatement.  But here’s the name of our street:

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Schools:  My school is called Jincheon Elementary.  It’s about a 15 minute walk from the apartment (not too bad).  It’s an older school, but also smaller.  I only have TWO co-teachers.  Yay!!  And my class sizes should be around 30 students or less. 

Micah’s school is called Daejin Middle School.  It’s about a 15 minute walk.  He only met 1 out of his 7 co-teachers this day. 

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Micah’s co-teacher was kind enough to drive us to an E-Mart (like Target) so we could buy some very needed food, water, and household supplies.  Good thing we each get a 300,000 won “settlement allowance,” – we spent nearly that much in our first shopping trip.

We were exhausted once we got home, but we had to eat.  We wandered around our little area and ended up dropping by some little restaurant, pointed to a picture, and struggled to figure out how much to pay.  But we got food…ahh…that’s a  success in my book.

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Day 8: EPIK orientation (Learning lessons)

The last full day of orientation.  A chance for each team to present their lesson plan and get feedback from the "pros.”  AND the all important, finding out where/what grade we will be teaching. 

Lesson plan presentation:  There were about 10 groups in our class.  Micah’s team won the prize for best lesson plan (and each member won a 10,000 won calling card).  My team, however, was a close second place.  It seemed fairly easy to present the lesson, so hopefully that’s a good sign for things to come.

lesson plans

School placement:  Ah, the moment of truth.  I was given a map of Daegu, with an ‘X’ placed around the area where my school is located,  and the name of my school…written in Korean.  We were able to figure out the following:

Micah is teaching middle school (7th, 8th, 9th grades)

I am teaching elementary school (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th grades)

And…our schools are closely located to each other.  Yay!!  And…we were told we did have shared housing.  An even bigger yay!!  We were only told our apartment will be “around” where our schools are, but we won’t know exactly where until we are dropped off.

Closing ceremonies:  We were treated to some AMAZING traditional Korean performances.  Three of them were drumming performances (that were SO cool) and three were dancing performances.  I liked a little of both…but the drummers were by far the most impressive. 

dancers

Last night out:  Of course, we all had to celebrate since it was the last time most of us would see each other.  We’d be leaving the comforts of orientation very soon – time to have fun, and say goodbye.  We hung out with our friend Seung Kyoung one last time too!

last night out


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