My Time at DETI

Long time, no post! Sorry, folks.

I had thought of doing this post for almost as long as I’ve been here, but I didn’t feel is was right to do it until now. This is mostly because I wasn’t sure if it was right to write about my workplace while I was there. But now I just want to get some of this info out there for any future teachers at DETI.

Let me bring you back to right when I arrived in Korea. I was at the EPIK training in Jeonju, and I received a message on Facebook from a person in Daejeon. Basically the gist of the message was, “Hello. I believe you’re going to be coming to my workplace as a new teacher”. Now, we hadn’t heard our school placements at that point (you don’t find out untll the end of training). I was curious, so I looked up the school which had the curious name of Daejeon Educational Training Institute. There really isn’t anything in English about the place save for one ‘review’ of sorts written by a disgruntled ex-employee. I’m not going to even bother linking it because it’s just rather depressing and full of malice. I don’t know if things were as bad as the person described, or if he just had a falling out and was pissed off. So I’ll try to describe my experience as best I can for any future teachers going to DETI.

Location

At EPIK training they tell you you’ll most likely be placed in an apartment near your school. Once your school placement is given you get a packet and a map. So all of us newbies gathered around and tried to figure out where we were going. Were all of us going to be very from from each other, and all that. I was crushed and panicked to see that I couldn’t find my school anywhere on the map. “Oh God, what if I’m out in the boonies?” I just about started crying, which one friend still teases me about to this day. A search on Google Maps showed me if was on the edge of Daejeon, technically in Gongju (the next city over), along the mountain range.

However! Do not despair, young one. I ended up in a building with my fellow EPIK teachers from the institute. There’s a shuttle bus that starts from the DMOE and makes a couple other stops before ending up at DETI. From my former place in Wolpyeong-dong the bus ride was around 30-35 minutes depending on traffic. Do not miss that bus! It’s the only one, and if you miss it it’s an awfully long commute via public transport. It happened to me, but I was lucky since we had no camp to teach that week. Otherwise it’s about 20-30,000 won taxi ride, or 60+ minutes via subway/bus.

English Camps

There are 3 sections at DETI: English camp, camping department, and teacher training. The teacher training is, duh, for training teachers. There’s 4 native English teachers on that side, but they aren’t hired through EPIK. The camping department is for Koreans only. It’s for students to come and stay over, do team building, and all that. The English camp was where I was placed. There are 5 Korean teachers, and 4 non-Koreans. There are also supervisors that head different sections of camps.

You help teach one of 3 camps: English, Dream Up, and Leadership. ย Kids are bused in on Monday, stay over the whole week, and leave Friday (actually one camp is shorter but I can’t remember if it’s Dream Up or Leadership). Since the kids stay overnight someone has to watch them in the evening. About 2 years before I came it used to be that 1 Korean and 1 non-Korean teacher stayed overnight in the dorm with the students. Crummy, right? Now only the Korean teachers take turns. You will, however, have to stay late 1 night until about 9 PM. A bit annoying, but you get over-time pay so not all bad.

Teachers rotate leading different classes except for your theme class. You’re usually paired up with your co-teacher as well. So basically you’re doing the same thing over-and-over all year. It’s not every week though. Sometimes you’ll have 2-3 weeks of camps and then a few weeks of desk warming. You go from being very busy to having too much free time. Find a hobby, study, fix classes, whatever, or it’s going to be mind-numbing.

Dream Up is for disadvantaged students. Leadership is for top students/class presidents, and is not led by the non-Korean teachers.

Other Staff

I was pretty lucky to have 3 other native teachers with me. We all hailed from different countries, and they were very supportive. Because of cultural differences it’s just nice to have someone who may understand where you’re coming from.

The other 5 Korean teachers were also quite nice, in my case. There are 4 co-teachers, 1 head teacher. Everyone spoke excellent English and were willing to help us out when we needed it (things like housing, paying bills, etc.). I had 2 co-teachers during my 2 years there.

There’s also 3 supervisors though just 1 is in charge of the English Camp. We had 3 English Camp supervisors during my time there. The 1st was quite nice and pretty hands-off. We were sad to see him go. The 2nd was, honestly, a nightmare. Very controlling and not always nice to the Koreans. He would say one thing to the native teachers, and then be very demanding/authoritative to the Koreans. We called him Napoleon. I won’t go into specifics, but let’s just say he wasn’t well liked. The 3rd was better than his predecessor, though he didn’t very much like being at DETI (possibly an unwanted transfer). However, still way better than the previous guy.

It’s always a bit of a crapshoot for who you’ll be working with, but I guess you just gotta go in with a positive attitude. After all, you’re all going to spending a lot of time together. It’s best to be on good terms with everyone.

Misc Info

Cafeteria food is bad. Just… blah. I highly suggest bringing a lunch.

Go hiking after lunch or something when you don’t have to teach. I should have done it a bit more. The scenery is quite beautiful, so enjoy it.

Doing the same thing over-and over gets a bit old after awhile. Try to revise and improve your classes to keep ’em fresh.

You have to teach the theme and drama classes all year. Since they are your very own classes then pick something you enjoy. When I finally made my own class I taught about superheroes, and my drama was for “Legend of Zelda”. I also had “Monty Python & The Holy Grail” though I was given that originally. Just pure luck that I enjoy that movie very much. ๐Ÿ™‚

So honestly it’s no where near as bad as that awful review says it is. Take it with a grain of salt. This is kind of true of just about any school, but with the exception of just having bad co-workers or some such situation then you kind of make the mood for your work time.

I hope all future teachers had as nice a time as I did. Even down the line, whether I’m in Korea or not, feel free to drop a comment or message my way. I can’t guarantee things will be the same as when I was there, but I’ll do my best to give you the info you seek.

Happy day, friends!

New job! Kindy here I come.

My, my ~ how time flies. I’ve already been in Korea for 2 years and a bit at this point. I got in a pretty comfortable routine with things. I really felt a need for a change though. Teaching at an English camp gets a bit, well, repetitive. So I’ve recently changed from my position at Daejeon Educational Training Institute to a kindergarten in my neighborhood. Kind of a big jump from 13-15 year olds to 5-6 year olds! In general, I’d been lucky in the past to have the majority of my students have a decent understanding of English. I’m a little worried about going from that to kids who will barely understand me. But gosh darn it they’re so cute and itty-bitty!

One major improvement is that I can walk to work in under 10 minutes. My last job I had to take a shuttle bus every morning at around 8:10 am. And if you miss the bus, boy, are you in trouble! It’s the only one, so if you’re late then the options are to quick call a co-teacher and beg for a ride, or take public transportation. The subway wasn’t so bad, but the only bus that went near work only came every 30-45 minutes. So it’s either a 30 minute shuttle bus ride or maybe 1+ hours on public transport. Blegh.

Also my hours are pretty decent. Walk in at 10 am, leave around 3:30-4 pm. I’m not a morning person at all so this is nice for me. My lunch hour is drastically reduced, however, from about 1 hr to about 20 minutes. Oh well.

Luckily there’s another native English teacher who happened to work at the kindergarten about a year ago. We’ll be splitting up the kiddies. I get the 5 & 6 year olds. Although that’s Korean age so really they’re 4 & 5.

I feel like I’m starting all over! At my old job there really wasn’t any lesson planning or the types of things EPIK teachers usually do. I’m not EPIK anymore, so I feel like I have a lot of trial and error ahead of me.

If anyone is wondering how I found a job on my own: Facebook. Really. A friend knew I was going to be looking for a new job and saw a post on a Daejeon Facebook group from the kindergarten. I set up an interview, sent my resume, and here I am. I was actually working with my recruiter that helped me get here in the first place (Canadian Connectionย fyi), but I ended up finding this mostly myself. So don’t count out Facebook as a resource. Usually there’s groups set up for a city or province so you can get help from other teachers if you have questions.

I don’t meet the kiddies until Tuesday, so I suppose I’ll eventually report back how things are going. Really hoping for a fun school year. ๐Ÿ™‚

Nami Island & Cheongpyeong Temple

Last week I went on a business trip with my co-workers to check out other English camps to see how the operate. We can’t do all the things those places do mostly because they are situational-based (like, having classrooms that look like stores, restaurants, etc.).

Anyway other than visiting the camps we got to sightsee a bit on the way. We went to Nami Island (๋‚จ์ด์„ฌ). Nami is a very small, but pretty island near Gapyeong. If your a fan of the drama Winter Sonataย (which I must admit I’ve never seen) they filmed parts of it there. You can walk down tree paths, rent a bike, or take the electric car tour. There are restaurants like Di Matteo which specializes in pizza. A bit expensive like most pizza in Korea, but very tasty and much more Italian-style than the chain stores. There are also many small shops to buy souvenirs and some artist studios to visit. I picked up a nice pair of glass earrings from a glass artist.

We stayed in the Naminara Hotel (a.k.a. Jeonggwanru Hotel) which was a dream honestly. Our room was small, but very clean and artsy. They have traditional heated floors and our bedding was also laid out on the floor. I was quite comfortable and warm the whole night. They also offer breakfast in the hotel. Not extravagant but still filling. We also had the treat of seeing a wild ostrich walk up to the window while we were eating. Oh yes, the island has wild ostriches. Crazy right?

I highly recommend making your way out to Nami Island if you have the opportunity.

As for Cheongpyeong Temple, it was interesting to see and not a difficult hike at all. I always enjoy seeing different temples. They each have their own sort of personality. However, I wouldn’t go out of my way to go here. If you are in Chuncheon in Gangwon province then, by all means, take a look.

If you are in Chuncheon, though, make your way to Dakgalbi Street. It was really the best dakgalbi I’ve had since I came here. Before I would have awarded that honor to a place here in Daejeon, but by the end of the meal it’s too spicy for me. The dakgalbi in Chuncheon was just right. Actually there are 3 things you should eat if you are in Chuncheon – dakgalbi, makguksu (buckwheat noodles in chilled broth), and potatoes. Don’t go without eating those!

In Chuncheon we stayed at the Sejong Hotel. A little step down from our stay in Nami Island. Don’t get me wrong – it was clean, warm, and not far from restaurants and such. It’s just that the interior is veryย dated. I felt like I stepped back in time or something. All things concerned, though, that’s not a huge deal so it was fine in the end.

Monday we actually have one more work trip. We’re headed to Daegu and Busan, with a few stops on the way. I’ll make sure to report back here!

More photos at my Flickr pageย ๐Ÿ™‚

Where I Work

Every time I explain where I work and what I do I get all kinds of looks, and I’m told I work in “that crazy place/school”. I also get asked, “How did you end up there?”. I really have no idea. Luck or something I suppose.

My friend Kelan is the first to tease me about my job. At the end of EPIK training everyone gets a packet with their school assignment. One of the previous teachers here contacted me before training and told me I may end up where he was. Out of curiosity, I tried to find any information about the place. Only one bit of info in English existed and believe me it was not a good report. However, this is proof that you should take things on the internet with a grain of salt. Anyway, when I got that info packet at training I almost started crying. That old report I had read did not paint a pretty picture and I was terrified I would hate my job. Oh me of little faith.

Cut to July and I really do enjoy my job. I work with great people which makes all the difference. Yeah, I don’t get the variety I would like, but it gives me less planning and more free time (well, sometimes… it varies). So I guess what I want to say is a) don’t believe everything you read on the internet and b) don’t worry too much about the school you’re going too. Chances are you’ll end up worrying over nothing like me.