How to vote in the 2019 US elections from Abroad/Korea.

US politics go local in 2019. In order to vote from abroad you must RENEW your Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) every calendar year.

Louisiana, Alabama and Kentucky will hold Gubernatorial elections.

Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City (MO, Las Vegas, Memphis, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Francisco, Tampa, and Phoenix are among the major cities with Mayoral contests this year.

Ballot measures will also appear in several states.

 

“Do you know about Dokdo?”

Last summer, I had the opportunity to visit Dokdo with a cohort of other native English Teachers from all over Korea. The trip, sponsored by Gyeongsangbuk-do and the Dokdo foundation consisted of 3 JAM PACKED (see schedule below) days on Ulleungdo, and of course, eventually, Dokdo.

<4AM BUS —>9AM PORT –>12PM ULLEUNGDO *NEXT DAY* 2HRS–> DOKDO>

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For those unfamiliar, Dokdo consists of several islands east of mainland Korea, and west of Japan. The islets have been a point of contention between Korea and Japan, as both countries claim the islands are their territory. Given the history between the two countries (think the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula) the issue brings heavy emotion here in Korea, especially in the realm of politics.

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Being brainwa..I mean educated about Dokdo.

Were the foreign teachers and I used as a propaganda piece in the trip? I mean, yes, to an extent. The trip was funded by organizations with aims at promoting the claim of Korean sovereignty to the islets. And why else would we be given neck towels adorned with the words reading “Iheart Dokdo”?  I mean honestly some great PR planning given the era of instagram and social media. Who knows how many people would end up googling “Dokdo”, because, well, who outside of Korea really knows about the islands (no tea, no shade, just facts on that )

But given that I have been in Korea for some time now, I felt as if this was a trip that is on my Korea travel bucket list (yes, that is a thing I have going).

 

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Upon landing at Dokdo we had FIFTEEN minutes to quickly see the surroundings lol

Dokdo – one of the most difficult locations in Korea to visit. Often times, ferry services to the islets are cancelled due to poor weather conditions. Given that Dokdo is only accessible from Ulleungdo – A 3 hour ferry ride from extreme eastern Korea (which, if we are honest is far AF from urban Korea), the trip is risky given that you may not be able to even step foot onto the fabled land.

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EPIK Camp planning

Long time no blog.

While teaching under the EPIK program in Korea, one of your responsibilities will be to plan and carry out English Camps during the prolonged holiday breaks.

If you are a teacher with two schools, typically, for summer break, you will teach at one school, and consequently during the winter break you will do a camp at the other school. This is a great time for you to build upon textbook curriculum while bringing your own personal touch, and yes, make things more personal and interesting for students!


Themed camps –

  • PRO: I mean , it’s themed so you have a cohesive umbrella plan for what you will cover. You can build upon a certain set of expressions/vocabulary – Scaffolding.
  • CON: You have that umbrella. I’ve done themed camp only once and I found that it became a little….annoying to stick to the theme for so many days?

Non themed camps

  • PRO: Freedom. Whatever you choose, it goes.
  • CON: May appear a bit unorganized on paper.

Daily structure

This is my typical camp day outline. Not written in stone but generally speaking this is an approach you may find useful.

  1. Warm up/Intro – Key words / Expressions
  2. Project/Video/Game – Typically only paper based activities reinforcing new expressions/vocabulary. or something like musical chairs/duck duck goose with vocab words i.e. not “duck,duck goose!” but instead “apple, apple, orange!” 0.jpg
  3. Craft – Using more tactile materials i.e iClay0.jpg
  4. Snack – Kids get hungry. Simple snack activities i.e. dirt cups/canape are usually easily approved by your school (stay away from anything requiring flame or knives etc.)
  5. Closing – PPT based games

Each of these sections can fluctuate in their length of time. That is a great thing about camp! If something takes longer, that is okay! Continue reading

Moving to Korea: Get your WiFi fix without an ARC card.

One of the most common initial frustrations upon moving to Korea is not having wifi or contracted cell phone service without your Alien Registration Card issued. In fact, I can recall the first month living in Korea, I had to go to Angel-in-us every evening to work on my lessons materials.

Here are a few tips I have for beating this daunting hurdle.

Cafes

Perhaps the most obvious choice is to go to a cafe. I have two options when it comes to cafes. One I call the moral customer option, and the second option I call the leeching option.

Moral customer – Order an item off of the menu. preferably the cheapest item as going here consistently will add up over time.

Leeching option – More likely in metropolitan areas where there are many people. Find a Starbucks or other cafe with multiple floors and simply sit and use the WiFi. To me I always feel guilty doing this but, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Public Libraries

After working at a public library in America, to me this was an option that was second nature to me. Only downside to this one is that they are not open super late (usually).

Bus/KTX terminals

If you are living in a city with a KTX terminal or Bus terminal, these locations will likely have public wifi options. Again, in smaller towns it will be quite obvious that you are hanging around for WiFi but in larger cities, with so many people coming and going, hanging around with your laptop is probably not going to catch much attention.

Convenience stores

SOME convenience stores may have WiFi available to customers. Maybe go with a smart phone initially to search for WiFi options before lugging your laptop only to be disappointed.

If you moved to Korea, where did you go to get that free WiFi?

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Jeffrey

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Must have desk items as a teacher in Korea

As a teacher in Korea, if you have your own personal desk you may be wondering what will be useful during your time in Korea. I will focus on not office supplies, like pencils, post it notes, etc. here, but rather peripherals you should consider.

Most of these items are related to comfort. You will find quickly that when the seasons are at their peak (summer/winter) your personality will alter if you are uncomfortable (sweating/freezing). Do yourself a favor for your psyche and your students and invest in comfort items.

The other items are related to productivity and organization. Remember, an organized teacher, is a happy teacher.

  • pop_digital07.jpgWireless mouse – Free yourself! I switched to a wireless mouse and feel like my speed has increased when I am doing PPTs and making worksheets. ₩8,900 @ Miniso

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ESL in Korea Survival Guide: No-tech and low-tech life savers in the classroom.

Having an arsenal of notech activities is something I highly recommend as an ESL teacher in South Korea. At any given moment, you could experience a technical difficulty with your computer or TV in the classroom. These activities are also helpful if you have some extra time before class ends (use all your time wisely!) Most of these activities can easily be printed or played without extensive effort but do not sacrifice quality.

No-tech ESL/EFL games

  1. Board slap – Listening domain. Group activity.

    Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 11.59.32 AM

  • Materials needed – 2 soft objects to hit the board. (Picture cards are optional)

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  • Process – Have the class divided into two groups. Each round of the game, pictures related to the lesson vocabulary are posted on the class white/black/chalkboard. Two students come to the front of the class with their backs facing the board. In a lesson such as “Who is she” The rest of the class may ask in unison “Who is she/he?” The teacher then may respond with “He is a _____. 3, 2, 1!” After the teacher says 3,2,1 the the students race to the board and then hit the photo of the vocabulary word spoken by the teacher.  Continue until all students have participated. Picture cards are useful in that the pictures may be rearranged on the board periodically.
  • You may use picture cards or even draw pictures (maybe younger or lower level classes)/or words on the board.

Missing picture card – Speaking/Reading

  • You can also play this with words, so again, select the best option based on the proficiency level of the class. Arrange the photos/words on the board. Ask students to put their heads on their desk and remove one word/photo from the board. Ask students what photo has been removed. 

Additional low-tech activities

  • Find the letters – Reading
    • Similar to a word search. Good for young learners mastering the alphabet. Ask them to find how many of each letter is hidden within the letter search box.
  • Color by letters – Reading
  • Whisper game – Listening/Speaking
  • Word searches – Reading
  • Crosswords – Reading/Writing
    • I premake crosswords using the vocabulary from each lesson and have them saved and ready to print. – Also helpful to provide the translation of their native language as the hint to the crossword. 

Reflections on my first months as an ESL teacher in South Korea

I’ve been in Korea now for a little over 4 months. Here are a few of my reflections on my experience so far..

  • Good classes and bad classes are in flux – same goes with good students vs bad students. In the beginning I would dread 3rd grade (adorable but out of control, even with native co-teacher doing management), but now I love teaching 3rd grade. Now 5th grade tends to be problematic. 
  • You will eventually accept the unpredictability – cancelled classes, lesson plans shifting, new teachers coming and going etc. If you are a person that needs everything to be planned out 100% you will change, not as a matter of choice, but necessity. 
  • Stock up BEFORE YOU COME on lessons focusing explicitly on each of the communicative domains (speaking, listening, writing, reading) along with review games for when you finish lessons. Once you get your textbooks, look at the review sections for the jist of what key expressions and vocabulary you will need in review activities. You can use these to make word searches and other supplementary materials, which im telling you, will save your life when a lesson flies by faster than you expected or when technological issues occur and you are unable to use that powerpoint you slaved over for hours or planned to use in class.
  • You will not feel guilty for downloading and using files and materials from waygook.org. DO IT. SAVE TIME. THERE IS GOOD STUFF ON THERE. At first I wanted to be the teacher who made everything themselves. That lasted for only a few weeks and I caved.
  • After your first semester you will have an idea of what works and what doesn’t work in your classroom and what students like and dislike. Take note mentally as you do different activities what your students are receptive to and what flops. 
  • The seating charts the teachers give you will save your life too, ask for one if they haven’t given you any. Even knowing a few students’ names can change the atmosphere of a classroom. You can tell on a students face when you call on them by name and they are relieved that you know who THEY are. 

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Jeffrey

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9 reasons you will love Gwangju

1. Mid-size city charm

15109483_10210138150548875_6564091619823353421_nGwangju is home to around 1.6 million people. In my eyes, this makes Gwangju the perfect size. If you want to experience rural Korea, rural Korea is not that far. If you want to experience modern Korea, you’ll be right there. If you want to live somewhere where foreigners are not viewed as literal aliens, while at the same time being met with curiosity about your homeland, Gwangju is perfect.

Traffic- For the most part the traffic (aside from 7:30-9am and 5pm-6:30pm on weekdays, is typically not that bad. There is only one subway line in the city so most commuters use the roads via bus or their own cars.14702465_10209782864346942_2360908213654079043_n

  • You can actually see the stars at night.
  • Perfect for the pay you will receive as a teacher (if you go through EPIK).
  • Air quality is not that bad.
  • The geographic area of the city is large yet manageable.

Notable areas for nightlife/entertainment – Chonnam backgate, Geumnam-ro area/downtown, Sangmu, Chosun university.

2. The “Gwangju frump”

Forget trying to impress anyone with your looks 24/7. Leave that for everyone in Gangnam. My friend and I have termed the aesthetic here as “Gwangju Frump”. This doesn’t mean that you can mosey out of your apartment in pajamas but it does mean that you will not need to invest as much into your appearance as locations such as Busan or Seoul. This is liberating financially, and mentally.

3. A+ bus intercity bus location

Gwangju is located (essentially) equidistant from Seoul and Busan, so trips to these cities will take basically the same amount of time. Gwangju Seongjeong Train station provides service to Yongsan, in Seoul for those who wish to take a fast track to the city. There is no quick fix for Busan, however.14713527_10209891627865962_3895738278966494042_n

U-Square Bus Terminal (광주 광천터미널). This is your lifeline for the intercity bus system. Usquare is outfitted with a 24/7 sauna, CGV movie theater, KFC, Burger King, a TGI Fridays, baskin robbins, krispy kreme, large book/stationary store, a Shinsegae department store, and an E-mart conveniently located across the street which is also accessible through an underground walkway on the basement floor of the shinsegae dept store. Buses to nearby cities typically run incredibly frequently (like every 15 minutes).

 

4. Great expat community

The Gwangju International center along with other organizations offer foreigners great opportunities to socialize and make connections. Two restaurants in particular cater to foreign clientele – The first alleyway AKA “Alleyway” and Tequilaz (Both located downtown).

5. Comfortable for the native English speaker

Not everyone speaks English but transit and essential services are typically easy to carry out in basic English or simple Korean. PLEASE USE SIMPLE KOREAN WHEN POSSIBLE. PLEASEEEE

6. Kia Tigers baseball

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You don’t even need to be a baseball fan back home to enjoy the games here in Gwangju. The tigers may not the the #1 team in Korea but the energy of the crowd here is contagious and you are allowed to bring in your own food and drinks into the stadium (YEAH).

 

 

7. The gift of Democracy

14433179_10209606084367553_7604615944962747531_nGwangju’s role in modern Korean history is especially poignant. Protests which took place in the city led to the eventual democratization of the country during the late 1980’s. All around the city you will find memorials and locations dedicated to the various movements which have taken place. It is also a point of pride for many in the city. The Asian Culture Center, and the fountain in front of it located downtown were the literal battlegrounds between citizens and the “aggressive government forces”.

8. Food, FOOD, F-O-O-D!

Gwangju is locaated in the Honam region, an area renowned for its diverse cuisine and generous portions. Of course not every restaurant provides service that is beyond what you will find in other Korean cities, but the food here is definitely not a choice between quality and quantity.

9. You are a foreigner

Being a foreigner in Gwangju is a unique experience. You aren’t in Seoul or Busan so seeing foreigners is not /THAT/ common. But at the same time people here are not shocked when you are on the bus or walking down the street. (Of course I say this as a white male so perhaps if I came from a different gender or ethnic background this could be different! I see my privilege here!)

To everyone coming to Gwangju in the coming weeks/months! – WELCOME^^

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Jeffrey

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How to: Never miss another package delivery in Korea

Receiving packages in Korea can be a headache. Delivery services typically will not leave a package at your residence if nobody is there to receive it at the door. Which can be a good thing if it is something expensive, but if you ordered a really really cool oven mitt (idk), or something not so valuable, then you probably are frustrated if you keep missing the delivery guy/girl. In this post I will outline what you can do to ensure that you receive your package without stress.

Before you read further, this how to is intended for those living in an apartment building where there is no office that can receive your packages when you are gone (one room people, where u at?). It is also intended for people who are comfortable with packages being left unattended outside their apartment door when they are away. 

The delivery process typically goes like this – screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-7-46-30-pm

  • Delivery company will send a text message to the phone number you likely supplied during the ordering process (if you ordered from online). This text message could include information like the time frame in which the delivery person will go to your apartment to attempt delivery
  • Before immediate delivery the delivery person will CALL the phone number. During the workday this can be difficult to answer, and I became wary of constantly asking my coworkers to answer the calls. Take initiative. Be an independent foreigner (kidding, ask if you want).
  • If nobody is home to accept the package, and if contact is not made, the package will not be left as it typically is in the US with services like USPS.

To ameliorate this problem, you can text the delivery person to leave the package outside your door. To do this simply text the following message –

“택배는 문앞에 놓아두시면 됩니다. 감사합니다. TYPE YOUR ADDRESS HERE.”

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The message roughly asks the delivery person to kindly leave the package outside your door.

The delivery person may choose to respond to your message, or they may simply leave the package. Really depends on the person.

I’ve also had the delivery service (looking at u CJ express) text me saying they just went ahead and left the package at the CU convenience store on the corner, which i’m 100% okay with.

Hopefully this quick hint will get you your packages with less hassle and give you more independence from asking your coworkers every time the mail man calls you from that creepy unknown caller ID when you are at work.

 

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Jeffrey

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