7 Handy Things to Keep at School

Over the years I was teaching in Korea, I acquired a lot of stuff around/in my desk. Honestly, it was a bit messy. My laptop, files, coffee mug, origami when I got bored, textbooks — you get the idea. But there were things I kept around because I found them to be handy or useful.

1. Cup ramyun

Though I tried not to eat too much ramyun (it’s not very good for you), I tried to get a back-up cup in my desk. My first school was notorious for having bad food. Seriously. Even teachers from other schools knew that. So after awhile I started making my own lunches. But on the days I forgot, and didn’t want the school food, I had some ramyun. It’s a good thing to have around so you don’t get too hungry during the day.

2. Snacks

I didn’t always have them around, but sometimes a piece of candy or something like that is just a nice pick-me-up when you need a bit of energy.

3. Feminine hygiene products

Well, sometimes it’s awkward talking about this stuff, but it’s not nearly as awkward as having to go to the nurses’s office with your co-teacher or someone else because you need to explain to the nurse that you need a pad. However, it is nice that they will generally have them because girl students will go there when they need one. Anyway, just save the trouble and keep a couple in your desk drawer.

4. Aspirin

It’s just a nice thing to have around. That and stomach medicine. Rather than waiting until you get home (or, again, having to go to the nurse), you have some around just in case.

5. Umbrella

During the summer months, which is when the rainy season happens, it’s handy to have an extra umbrella tucked away. The day may start out nice, but the weather can turn quickly and there may be a downpour at the end of the school day. Rather than walking home and getting soggy, you’ll be much better off with an umbrella around.

6. Tea

Nothing like a cuppa to warm you up or calm you down. There were always tea bags in the office, but the flavors were rather generic/boring. So I kept a couple boxes of tea that were sent from home so that I could make up a different flavor once in awhile. I also put hot cocoa packets in my drawer for the winter time.

7. Blanket

You’ll often see girls using these in cafes or famous stars on TV using them (mostly for modesty). I had happened to have gotten one of these lap blankets as a wedding favor from someone at school — even though I didn’t go to the wedding or know who they were (that’s actually pretty normal). Anyway, it was nice during the winter when I was sitting around the office and feeling a bit chilly. Plus, it could be a makeshift pillow for a quick nap. Actually, I had a mini pillow too for that purpose that I had bought at Art Box.

Hope that was useful! If you have any other suggestions for useful things like these I’d be interested to hear them. 🙂 

How & Why I Went to Korea

Hey, all!

Fall has finally arrived. The weather is getting cooler, there’s pumpkin flavored everything all over the place, and I finally get to wear sweaters (yay!). I was thinking back to fall a few years back, when I was applying for the EPIK program. So, I decided to make a video about how and why I decided to go to Korea.

In winter 2009 I graduated from college with a BFA in Painting & Drawing. I didn’t have a plan for right after graduation. I thought maybe I’d go to graduate school or possibly travel. I’d taken courses in Japanese during my undergrad, and I had heard about the JET program. So in the midst of my final semester in school I was also applying for JET. I read blogs and watched videos by people like myargonauts. I thought at least, with my language experience, I’d get an interview. But, when the list of successful applicants went up in January, my name wasn’t on the list. I was crushed!

But I continued on. I looked at different graduate schools, but I didn’t have much in my savings. At the time, I wanted to go to art school for animation. I had no idea how I could possibly afford it, though, since grad school/art school isn’t cheap. Around summer 2010 my friend suggested I give EPIK a try. I hadn’t heard of it, and did a bit of research. Korea, eh? Well, I did like Korean pop culture. And Korea seemed like an interesting place… so why not?

By fall I was looking into how to apply. I ended up going through the recruiting agency Canadian Connection. I filled out an application and waited for a response. I don’t think I had to wait very long. I had a successful interview and began gathering my documents. In December, I got an e-mail asking me about my city preferences. Cities like Seoul, Incheon, and Busan are popular, and it was harder (and now moreso since GEPIK is cutting jobs) to get a job there. How about my other choices? I had no problem with them, and very soon after I was told I was going to Daejeon. Wow, just like that? I’m going? Holy cow!

I had about 6-7 weeks to get everything in order. I was still waiting on documents and my contract so I could get my visa from the consulate in Chicago. I researched on-line all about living in Korea, teaching Korea, what I should pack, etc. I was so nervous and excited. My mother was probably more nervous than me. My family was probably confused as to why I was even going to a country where I knew no one and couldn’t even speak the language.

Except for a slight snafu at the consulate regarding my contract, I was able to get my visa just a couple days before my flight. I stayed up all night the day before packing, repacking, and probably freaking out a bit.

It all ended up fine though! I went to Korea, I met so many great people, and learned lots of things while teaching.

If you’re thinking about applying to EPIK (or just teaching in general in Korea), I say “go for it!”. I’m glad I applied through a recruiter. They were kind and informative, and helped me through the whole process. I feel like I probably saved myself a lot of stress this way.

As it’s now October, it’s probably a bit late to be applying for Spring 2015 intake. Don’t worry if it’s late in the game. If you don’t mind a hagwon job, they’re always taking applicants throughout the year. Otherwise just wait for Fall 2015 intake for EPIK. You can always use that time to get a certificate like TEFL to boost your resume a bit.

If you have any questions about applying or teaching in Korea in general, I’ll do my best to answer them. I believe EPIK has changed a few requirements in terms of applying, so I’d have to read up on that.

Thanks for reading!

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.

EPIK orientation: It begins

EPIK orientation exceeded my expectations for sure. I actually miss it in a way.  I had a great class and, for the most part, the lectures were fairly interesting.

Let’s go back to the start.

I arrived quite tired at Incheon Airport on Thursday after about 14 hours of total flight time. Not as bad as some other flights but still a bit too long for my liking. My recruiter met me at the exit and led me over to where EPIK people were gathering. We had a 4 hour bus ride to the orientation site in Jeonju. Didn’t take too long for the others and myself to fall asleep. Once we arrived the girl next to me had to none-too-gently nudge me twice before I properly woke up.

Once we were at Jeonju University we all checked-in, got our manuals & goodies (towel, alarm clock, and a pretty nice hoodie), and went to our rooms. For dorm rooms they were pretty nice (if you wanna see head over to my YouTube channel). My roommate was quite nice as well.

Jeonju Uni cafeteria

Friday was out medical check. It was pretty standard stuff – height, weight, eye exam, blood test, hearing test, chest X-ray, and urine test.  That last one though… we were all just given paper cups (think Dixie cups) and just had to go ahead. No covers or anything! Just… go and then give it to the lab people. Wow.

The rest of the week was taken up with lectures. 2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, and some Korean language classes in the evening. On Monday we got to visit Jeonju Hanok village, a traditional village with some neat stuff like the cultural center, cathedral, a market, and a paper maker. At the end of the week we also had to do a mock lesson. My partner and I got voted the best lesson, and we won a calling card!


My class was made up of almost all the people who were headed to Daejeon. I think we had the best class personally J Everyone is very friendly and supportive. All-in-all a very good experience.

If any of you future EPIK-ers are headed to Jeonju University for orientation then I suggest going to the “lantern bar”. We never did find out the real name, but everyone called it that because of the lanterns on the outside.

"Lantern bar"


Also don’t be afraid to skip the cafeteria food and walk in the neighborhood for some grub. I personally really liked Sinpo Woori Mandoo, and I believe people went to Couple Toast fairly often.

Onward to Daejeon!