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. πŸ™‚Β 

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!

Leaving Korea

Yep, it’s true. As of this date I have left Korea. Apologies! This video went up awhile ago, but I didn’t pair it with a blog post.

I left Korea on March 28th. Sad day γ… γ… . I left behind a lot of great friends (and great weather btw – it’s not warm enough in the Midwest!).

As to why I left, well, I wasn’t feeling… fulfilled? I always liked my workplaces and my co-workers. The past job at the kindergarten was pretty great actually. But towards the second half of my employment I just wasn’t feeling good about things. Even though things went well for the most part I still went in thinking, “Well, at least I only have 6 hours or so until I can go home”. That really didn’t feel right.

I didn’t dislike being a teacher. I had a lot of great moments with my students. I never really felt like a”real teacher” though since Education wasn’t my major. I thought maybe getting an university job would be nice, but these days it’s very hard to get one of those if you don’t have a MA. So I decided to come home.

I’ve seen a few friends leave and return to Korea after a year or so. I have friends who went home to get certificates or a Masters, or even those who stayed in Korea but do those programs online. So that’s my tentative plan. I love Korea and, if I can, I’d like to go back. So I’m going to apply for an online program to earn a TESOL MA.

I still want to make vlogs and blogs about Korea, as well as traveling and my life in the U.S. Thanks for sticking around. I’ll still be here making content as long as you guys are around. πŸ™‚

Cheers!

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 ConnectionΒ 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. πŸ™‚