EPIK Placement – GWANGJU!

This morning I woke up to see the e-mail I have been waiting to receive for what seems like an eternity.

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Gwangju was my preferred location so I could not be happier. Of course, I would be happy with any placement, as I believe each city and province has its own personality and charms.

Now comes the wait for the notice of appointment, contract, and visa application. Exciting stuff!

Ad astra per aspera,

– Jeffrey



EPIK: Common questions -With answers from coordinators

Here I have compiled a list of some of the questions and answers from the official EPIK Fall 2016 Facebook page. I hope this is helpful, especially since the people asking the questions are real applicants in real situations and the answers are coming from real EPIK coordinators themselves.

Q: Not sure if this has been asked before, but if we don’t get our first choice for placement- how will EPIK place us? Is there a way to tell them about our second and third choices?

A: Epik Coordinator – We only provide one option for a preference location and do not give a secondary preference location. On rare occasions, some applicants may be asked to change their preference if there are some issues with their documents or they are not eligible for the location they have selected initially.

Q: Does anyone know when we’re allowed to take vacations? I imagine it depends on each school, but just for reference? My dad wants to get married in early June 2017 so I’m wondering if that would fall within a vacation period. Thanks!

A: Epik Coordinator – This depends on schools primarily, but for the most part the summer vacation period is in August and the winter vacation period in February. As noted above, most schools will have camps during this period, so your vacation days will usually be taken in these months and around your camp obligations.

Q: Since I only have my earlobes pierced do I still need the tattoo and piercing sworn declaration?

A: Epik Coordinator – In your situation, that document is not needed Continue reading

“We will be experiencing some turbulence”

It all started at Incheon International Airport. Before boarding my flight I purchased an overpriced bottled water because, ya know, gotta stay hydrated on those long flights. The usual routine for me.

face-with-no-good-gesture.pngStrangely as I was boarding the flight there was a secondary security checkpoint in the jet bridge (that tunnel you walk in before you board the plane). It was there that I was told I couldn’t take my bottled water on the flight. Why? WHAT? I bought it past the ~official~ security checkpoint! No point in arguing, though. So I had half a bottle left and I thought…okay I mean I spent the money so I might as well drink the rest of it. MISTAKE.

The first hour or so of the flight was fine we were served a meal and everything was peachy keen. Then the turbulence began.

Something along the lines of

“We will be experiencing some turbulence. We ask that you remain seated while the fastened seatbelt light is illuminated.”

came over the intercom in a stern voice. They shouldn’t have said “ask” because it was more of a demand.

The turbulence was no joke and the lights even flickered in the cabin every now and then. I wouldn’t have been surprised if our luggage had flown out mid-flight. Everyone looked around at each other several times to see if anyone was concerned (Spoiler: we all were). A few people tried to get up to use the restroom but the flight attendants quickly told them that they needed to return to their seats.

KU6K3d82 hours later – I GOTTA…. USE THE “FACILITIES”. That damn water that I chugged was making itself known. Of course, now that we had all been forced to be seated for hours, after being served a meal other passengers had to use the restroom as well. That is when I had to begin strategizing my plan of action during the impending stampede of restroom goers. We were no longer passengers, we were competition. Luckily I had an aisle seat so I wouldn’t have to trample anyone. Continue reading

That one time I almost died in Gyeongju

Okay so maybe the title of this post is a little overdramatic but…still.

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Students at Bulguksa Temple

Back in 2013 when I was in Korea I went on a day trip to Gyeongju to visit…well…..Gyeongju. The city is located in Gyeongsangbuk-do on the southeastern part of the Korean peninsula. You may hear Gyeongju referred to as “the museum without walls” thanks to a rich cultural history spanning over 1000 years. In fact, the city and immediate region is home to several UNESCO-designated world heritage sites. On top of that, every school child in Korea visits Gyeongju with their school at least once.My tour would take me to Seokguram Grotto, Bulguksa Temple

My tour would take me to Seokguram Grotto, Bulguksa Temple (both of these locations are exquisite examples of religious and architectural masterpieces) , and the generically named “Gyeongju Historic Areas”. In the Gyeongju Historic Areas, I would be visiting the Tumuli Park Belt consisting of burial mounds, and Cheomseongdae.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 9.29.21 PMCheomseongdae is the one of the oldest surviving astronomical observatories in the world, dating back to the 7th century. At one time it could even be found on the 10,000 원 banknote. Symbolism can be found everywhere in the observatory’s architecture take for example that the 362 stones used to build Cheomseongdae represented the 362 days in a lunar year.

So the night I arrived in Gyeongju I wasn’t feeling so well after dinner. I didn’t think much of it and went ahead and fell asleep that night without really any problems..well aside from the fact that the wi-fi was not working, but I digress. The next morning I went ahead and got ready for the tours I had scheduled for the day and went down to the breakfast buffet. From what I recall, this is when things really started going downhill. Continue reading

So it begins – Telling friends you are moving abroad

In all honesty, I have told very few people that I am leaving in August. A handful of “critical” people (my employer, parents, letters of recommendation referees, etc.) are the only ones who know so far. I haven’t posted something about it to Facebook or anything like that. Something about exposing things in advance always makes me feel like something could go wrong. I don’t want to jinx myself, I suppose.

I mean how is someone supposed to slam that on someone they know? It isn’t like I can be sitting in a coffee shop and all of a sudden say “Oh, yeah, by the way, I’m moving half way around the globe in 2 months and you won’t be seeing me for at least a year.” Well, I mean I could do that, but it isn’t really my style.

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Well, today was the first time I have had to actually reveal my upcoming departure to a friend. They live in Philadelphia, so I see them maybe only once or twice a year when they come and visit family. Ironically, this same friend, whom I have not seen in over 18 months, just returned from a trip to Korea about a week ago. Consequently, I was given a few goodies. I’ve been dying to try the 초코파이 바나나맛, so the gifts were perfect! I’m gonna bring the mango soap with me to Korea.

I told them right before we parted that they wouldn’t see me around Christmas when they would visit because I would be gone. They took to the news well and in all honesty, I’m expecting that everyone I tell will take to it in a positive light. I think the biggest wall is ultimately myself, and being superstitious (I want that placement email, stat!).

I know as the date approaches and I tell more people, it will get easier. I’m not sad, I’m not nervous, I just feel like the timing is really important.

Ad astra per apsera,



Voting From Abroad – How To Guide for Americans

Moving abroad doesn’t mean you lose your voice. Voting from abroad is now easier than ever. Here is a quick run through of how to apply and vote in US elections while living abroad.

UOCAVA citizens: U.S. citizens who are active members of the Uniformed Services, the Merchant Marines, and the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, their eligible family members, and U.S. citizens residing outside the United States.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) supports UOCAVA citizens and election officials by providing necessary absentee voting forms, materials and training guidance.

Voting from abroad requires several steps

  1. Request FPCA
  2. Send FPCA to local election office
  3. FPCA approved by local election office
  4. Absentee ballot sent to voter from local election office
  5. Voter sends completed absentee ballot to local election office
  6. *FWAB can be completed if the ballot is not received 30 days before the election.

UOCAVAVote.jpg Continue reading

Applying for an International Driving Permit (IDP)

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Countries that honor IDPs

There are only two private entities in the U.S. authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue an IDP. They are AAA and the National Automobile Club. As Korea is a member of the Geneva Conventions, it’s acceptable to drive for 1 year from the date of entry with an international driving permit issued from other members of the Geneva Convention.

As Korea is a member of the Geneva Conventions, it’s acceptable to drive for 1 year from the date of entry with an international driving permit issued from other members of the Geneva Convention. It is possible to drive in Korea, using an international driving permit issued by member countries of the Geneva & Vienna Conventions

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Using KorVia Consulting to apply for EPIK – Fall 2016

When applying for the EPIK program, this may well be one of the most important choices you make throughout the entire process. Keep in mind that recruiting agencies are required to provide their services for FREE and under no circumstance should you go with a recruiting agency not approved by EPIK or the NIIED or one that is asking for money

Things to consider

  • Recruiter applications are accepted later than direct applications

calendar-2If being one of the first applicants is high on your priority list, then going through a recruiter is probably not an option you should pursue. On the other hand, when you go through a recruiter, they will know the ins and outs of the application process, preventing you from being denied in the initial stages due to small errors. Continue reading

Tips for Webcam Interviews

open-laptop-with-shining-screen.pngWebcam interviews are becoming more and more commonplace. While this format has revolutionized the way we conduct long-distance interviews, they also present new challenges and things to consider. Some of these tips are pretty obvious but in my experience they have always given me positive results! Here are my tips for webcam interviews.

Your account

  • Make an account

If you haven’t already, make a skype account. Go ahead and make one right now even if you don’t have an interview scheduled. Familiarize yourself with how the program works.

  • Make an appropriate status update

happyThis may be a point that is often overlooked. Skype has a feature where you can make a status message. Make your status message professional or relevant to the position for which you are being interviewed. Remember that your status message history will be visible to your contacts, so keep it all clean and positive.

  • Choose a professional username

Keep it simple. Using your name in a form like “hong.gildong”, “contact.honggildong”, “info.honggildong”, or “hello.honggildong” are safe choices.

  • Choose a professional avatar

This is a no brainer. Make sure your avatar is professional. This is literally most likely the first time the interviewer has ever seen you, so make a good impression from the start.

  • Hide your number of contacts

Unless you have a large number of contacts (50+) hide your number of contacts. Continue reading

Resources for beginner EPIK teachers

Starting a new job can be stressful. Starting a job that you may have no formal experience in, can be even more stressful. Here are some resources you may find helpful as you prepare/begin your journey as an English teacher through EPIK, or any other ESL position.

Lessons/Pedagogy (teaching) – Always aim to make your own lesson plans. Only use these resources as a guide, or inspiration.

  • wedding-planningLinkedIn TESOL International Association group – Whether or not you are a regular user of LinkedIn, join this group to gain insight on various teaching styles and lesson plans from ESL teachers themselves. Over 23,000 members!
  • Waygook.org – One of the most well-known resources for ESL (English as a second language) teachers in Korea
  • ColorinColorado.com – Focuses mainly on ESL instruction in US schools but you can find a wide variety of helpful information on this website.
  • ShareMyLesson.com – Browse thousands of ELL (English language learner) focused lessons after free sign up.
  • ESLPrintables.com – Library of printables related to grammar, vocab, listening, speaking, reading, writing, cinema and television, and even songs.
  • LessonPlanet.com – ESL vocabulary lesson plans and worksheets.
  • ESL-Galaxy.com – “Free ESL Printables, Kids Activities, Games and Online Exercises for Grammar, Vocabulary & Pronunciation.”
  • TeachChildrenESL.com – Free worksheets, flashcards, games, lesson plans and online activities.
  • TeachersPayTeachers  – Offers both free and paid lesson plans and worksheets.

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