Applying to EPIK #4 – The Interview.

So, you’ve applied to EPIK and heard back. You got an interview! Congratulations, you say to yourself. Until the pre-interview fear sets in. Well, hopefully this post is a little helpful at least. Now, it has been around twelve months since I had my interview. I don’t know if anything has changed, and having a memory worse than a goldfish means I have forgotten the specific questions I was asked. But I can remember general points.

First, I would suggest you get to know your application well. Some of the first questions I remember being asked were about my application and sections of it (my personal essay and lesson plan for example). I would suggest printing out a copy and having it on hand that day. Highlight anything you may think is important so you don’t waste time shifting through countless pages during the interview.

Second, a lot of the questions I was asked were about general teaching situations. Things like classroom management (What would you do if your had a class that was misbehaving?) and teaching skills (I don’t really remember any specifics). Going onto Google and getting some ideas for this section is important. I was lucky that I had volunteered at a school back in the UK and already had some idea of these points. As well as this, I was asked the final question “What would I do if I had trouble with a co-worker?” I didn’t find any information on the internet regarding this question and I wasn’t really expecting it. My advice: say you would talk to them about it and try to resolve it that way. Korean culture is a lot about “saving face” and going over their would just serve to embarrass them.

Three, get the time of your interview right. I miscalculated the time of my interview by an hour. Luckily, I was ready an hour early and so it was not the end of the world. But a miscalculation the other way could cost you an interview spot.

Apart from this, I would suggest be yourself. EPIK recruits a wide range of different people and pretending to be something you are not will get you no where in the long run. Try not to panic and get a good night of sleep. And good luck.

Sorry the post is short (and not packed with information) but I hope it helps.



“…for Hitler and Germanyyyy”. Wait, what? Spring has officially hit us here in Korea. It happened so damn fast that it confused the temperature apps on my phone. The result of all this madness is I am wearing a coat to school on a day the temperature looks set to rise to 18 or 20 degrees. Also, hay fever. Lots and lots of hay fever.

But I am glad Spring has hit us, finally. It means I can enjoy the temperature for a month before we start to move into the kind of heat and humidity that kills me. You may think, reading my blog, that I moan a lot about the weather. But I am British, meaning:

1) I am not happy unless I am moaning about something.

2) If I don’t moan about the weather at least three times a week, they take away my citizenship and won’t let me back in the country.

This weekend, I had a great time. Friday, I was going to play some games with David. Unfortunately, he has some nasty cold or flu bug, so that was off. We briefly played games on Saturday but he could only do an hour or so before he had to go rest. Instead, I spent much of Friday evening and Saturday (and a part of Sunday) Snapchatting my friend Hayley and her friend. And watching Horrible Histories on YouTube.

Saturday night I went out, which was fun. It was my first proper night out in a while and my first one since I started taking my new anti-depressants. This meant I wasn’t sure how much I could get away with drinking on them. The answer? Much less than I drunk Saturday night. I woke up Sunday in agony, with the worst hangover I have had in a long time. From now on, it will be one or two quiet beers for me at most.

Talking of my anti-depressants, currently they seem to not be working. I researched them on the internet and apparently, they might not work for around a third of all people. The doctor explained to me that he chose them because they have few side affects but if they don’t work the next time I go in (about 7 days or so) he will change them. I am also suffering with an awful bout of insomnia at the moment, which probably isn’t helping. But things are looking up. I have things to look forward to; the arrival of a new book in May that I have waited ages for; visiting Hayley in July; and hopefully resigning my contract.

I have decided to stay one more year here if they ask me to. I love my job and teaching my students. I am also using this as a chance to save up some money before I go settle back in the UK. It will be a little stranger as I have friends I have made here who aren’t planning to do a second year, so my friendship group will shrink somewhat.

Apart from the above, I have no news. So, enjoy the lovely weather. And Spring. I shall write again soon (possibly another Applying to EPIK post).


Spring weather and good music

So, after teasing for the entire month of March, Spring has finally reached us here in Korea. In 7 days it went from hovering around the 1/2 degrees Celsius mark to being around 15 degrees Celsius today. It is crazy. Goodbye to my winter coats (I hope) and hello light jackets and finally being able to do some touristy stuff. What kind of things, I hear you ask? Well, let me tell you.

1 – The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul. I used to go to the Tate Modern a lot back home with my friend Rosie and haven’t been to an art gallery since we last went sometime last year (maybe summer?). I miss seeing art, and am interested to learn more about the contemporary Korean art scene.

2 – The DMZ. I wanted to do this as soon as I found out I was coming to Korea. I think it will be really interesting to visit the DMZ. I learnt about it at college/university a bit and am interested to see something I can’t really see anywhere else in the world. Plus, I sort of get to look at some North Korean hills. So yeah.

3 – National Museum of Korea. Always on lists of the best museums to visit in Seoul, this one has been on my list since October of last year. I have already visited a few museums in Seoul and this one, covering a large portion of Korean history with a great range of exhibitions and other things, looks amazing.

So, apart from rejoicing at the coming of Spring, what else have I been up to? Not a lot. Teaching, of course, takes up the majority of my time. Outside of this, I went for a St. Patrick Day meal thing at the weekend, and had chicken with some friends I don’t see very often. That was fun. Friday night I played 4 hours of Starbound with David which was a lot of fun. I have to make gaming nights a more regular thing. I have also been listening to a lot of great music from back home. Blur, Graham Coxon and a whole bunch of other things. There are really too many to list here. The final thing? Sort of planning what to do in New Zealand when I go visit Hayley and counting down until July when I can finally go.

Have an awesome start to your week. I shall (hopefully) post again soon.


A Little Taste of Home…

I have been thinking recently. A lot of blog posts (mine included) spend a lot of time talking about how great it is to live here in Korea and all the awesome things that happen as a result. So I thought I would spend this post talking about some of the things I miss most about the UK. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love living here in Korea and I love my life here. But there are some things that I miss living here that I can not find a replacement for.

So, here we go.

Number One:

I miss affordable cheese. I had heard how expensive cheese was before I moved here (along with a a number of other foods) but I think I just chose to ignore it. I used to eat a lot of cheese back home. I’m talking like at least half a large block a week, but most likely more. I would snack on cheese chunks along with a cheese sandwich. I love it. But living in Korea? I can’t afford it. Even a TINY block which might last me a day back home would set me back around $10 (or about £5). When I first saw the prices, I could not believe it.

Cheese is HOW MUCH? (Note – I’m clearly the man in the glasses as anyone who knows me would say)

Number Two:

I miss my family. Obviously. I miss them more than I thought I would. I have never really been one for getting all worked up over this sort of thing. But I think living so far from home has made being away from them different somehow. I speak to them through Skype, of course, but it still isn’t the same. Even being at University, I suppose I always knew they weren’t that far away.

Number Three:

The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio. I used to listen to this every morning without fail before I went to work. And when I finished work to come here, just every morning without fail. And it annoys me that I can’t get Absolute Radio (or any of its sister stations like the 90s one) here in Korea. I still get BBC stations (which I do listen to and enjoy) but missing out on this large part of my daily ritual took some getting used to. I use the radio here to connect me a little more to home. It is nice to hear familiar accents and keep up to date with issues back home (No offence meant to my American friends here, of course).

Number Four:

British Weather. Yes, I miss the thing that most Brits spend their entire lives moaning about. Yes, the weather back home is somewhat unpredictable and normally grey in nature. But eventually, you get pretty good at judging it. If it warms up, odds are you won’t get a sudden freezing cold spell. In the summer, you can go outside without feeling like you are wading through the air. I guess what I miss most is the boring and in no way extreme nature of the British climate. It isn’t too hot or too cold. I used to love snow back home. Having seen it here so much, I am sort of bored of it. The magic of snow has been taken away from me (though that might have to do with me getting older too).

So, that is pretty much the big things I miss about home. There are small things too. But I shan’t bore you any more. I love living here in Korea but I decided it is not something I could do permanently. I miss Britain far too much for that.

Tales of Woe…Or How I Seem to Have Spent the Last Month Ill…

So, as I noted in my last post, I didn’t really post at all last month. Even this has taken me a day longer to get up than I planned. Why? Because I seem to be ill with…something. Even the doctor, who I was visiting last night, seemed to be confused. The problem is I had a cold but I also have mega-allergies to pollen and dust. Because when you have allergies, you have to make sure they are the lamest allergies possible.

The multitude of pills I am on (18 a day) combating this make me feel like Jordan Belfort from Wolf of Wall Street. I take 5 different pills three times a day for my cold symptoms, an anti-histamine once a day for my allergies and currently take two Stablon a day to help me battle depression and anxiety. The good thing was all of these pills ended up costing me almost nothing (visit to doctor and all my medication cost me 9,800 won). I am a little worried as I only have Stablon for 15 days and anti-depressants normally take several months before they become affective. I have to research the tablets more (not an easy task as they don’t seem to be available in English speaking countries). But, my dear readers, don’t worry about me. I will be fine.

This is my life right now…

What else have I been up to? Well, we finally started back at school this week. I haven’t taught a proper class since November. Going up and teaching again has reminded me why I loved it here so much until we were on a holiday/desk-warming marathon. Desk-warming, for those that don’t know, can only be compared to a slow torture. Lesson planning can only take up so much time…But I was one of the lucky ones allowed to work from home this winter instead of being at school alone. My current mental state also meant that my already limited attention span was almost non-existent. More on my attention span later though. I have an entirely new First Grade and walking down a corridor right now is the closest thing I will ever get to being Ryan Gosling. “Ohhh! So handsome!”. Walking to the bathroom yesterday took much longer than normal, as I handed out high-fives and hellos to pretty much every kid.

Me in Korea
Me back home…

What else is new? I am counting down to the holiday I have booked for summer. Yes. Finally, after seven years of great friendship, I am going to New Zealand to meet my amazing friend Hayley in person for the first time. We have discussed it and our current plans consist of either:

  • Go outside and shame everyone with our combined amazing-ness and style.
  • Stay at her house, never leave the sofa and watch an epic LOTR marathon. For two weeks.
Needless to say, I am very excited about meeting her. It will probably be the best thing to come from the whole ‘Korea’ experience for me.
Lastly, I mentioned some attention problems above. Some of my friends here have pointed out similarities between me and people they used to know/teach with attention problems. This isn’t the first time this has happened. I have no idea if there is anything to it. But it has been playing on my mind somewhat recently.
Well, I have rambled on long enough. Check back soon for more posts. I will keep a more regular posting schedule, I promise. Stay awesome!

Applying to EPIK #3: The Lesson Plan

So, I am finally posting another EPIK Application update. This one is to do with the lesson plan segment of the application. I did mean to post this a while back but have been pretty ill over the past few weeks (nasty cold, combined with allergies). I am not much better now but I have put this off for long enough. There isn’t much to say apart from this is the lesson plan that I submitted. Although I don’t plan like this here in Korea, this is what they were looking for. I had my Dad read mine over (he is a teacher himself) but I think as long as you have a good base idea, with a range of fun activities you will be fine. For example, my boys here love different types of English games (which I use to drill the language into them).
Good luck if you are applying and feel free to leave me questions if you have any. I will post another update about my life in general over the next day or so
TIME (40 mins total)
Once the students are all sat down, greet them by saying ‘Hello, class. I went to a restaurant yesterday. Can anyone tell me food they like to eat in a restaurant?’ As students suggest some different foods, use this as an opportunity to write them down on the board. This is a good opportunity to review how much the class learnt about food in the previous lesson. Encourage them to use the key expressions learnt.
After two minutes (or once students stop suggesting food. Whichever happens first) say to the students that today we will be looking at ordering food in a restaurant. Open up the PowerPoint presentation with the ‘Key Expressions’ slide on screen.
2 Minutes
2 minutes
Now that the ‘Key Expressions’ slide is open, you can introduce the key vocabulary for the lesson to the students.
If you have a co-teacher, they can help you with this. Have them ask ‘Can I help you, sir/madam’. Then, you can respond with the first of the lessons key phrases and show it on the board. If you have no co-teacher you can get one of the students to help you. Hand one of the students a ‘Menu Worksheet’ and explain you are going to do a short role play ask them ‘May I take your order?’ or ‘Can I help you, sir/madam?’ If the student says something basic, such as ‘Hamburger’ walk up to your desk, pretend to prepare a hamburger and drop it on the floor before serving it. The students should find this funny and it can show how simply barking out orders can be perceived as rude.
If the student says something more advanced (such as Can I have some/a hamburger?’) write it down on the board.
After this, hand out the worksheets for the lesson to the students and split them into three groups (numbered one to three).
3 minutes
3 minutes
For these activities, students will require the ‘Menu’ Worksheet, and the ‘Customer’ or ‘Waiter’ dialogue sheet, depending on the group they are in.
Activity One – Fill in the Blanks
This activity will use two PowerPoint slides. It will take the form of a ‘fill in the blanks’ exercise. When the first slide is opened, students will be presented with five sentences, with each missing some words. The sentences will appear later in the dialogue sheets and be based around the idea of ordering food in a restaurant.
The second slide will feature five sentences as well. These will be based around the second of the lesson’s ‘Key Expressions’, and will also feature on the dialogue sheet for the next activity. As above, it will be a ‘fill in the blanks’ activity.
In order to have their answer accepted, each student must say the whole sentence, with the blanks filled in. This activity will make students familiar with some of the dialogue they will be using in activity two.
Activity Two – Role Play
Students in the first group (number one) will play the waiters. Students in the other two groups will play the customers. The first group will use the ‘Waiter’ dialogue sheet and groups two and three will use the ‘Customer’ dialogue sheet. Students will have five minutes to read and learn as much of their ‘role-play’ as possible. After this they will have ten minutes to complete the rest of the activity.
Once the five minutes are up, the students in groups two and three will go and talk to as many of the students in group one as they can. For each waiter they visit, the students should try and use a different type of food. They should also use a range of expressions from the dialogue sheet for saying whether they enjoyed their meal. For each one they use, they can cross it off. The student(s) who uses the most will win a prize at the end of the class.
NOTE – When doing this activity, waiters should read the first part of their dialogue and wait for 30 seconds or so before reading the second section. This is made clear to the students on the worksheet.
5 minutes
5 minutes
5 minutes
10 minutes
For the final part of the session you should re-visit the ‘Key Expressions’ slide of the PowerPoint presentation. Before you open this up, ask the students if they can tell you what the ‘Key Expressions’ were for the lesson. If they get them right, say well done and bring up the ‘Key Expressions’ slide.
After this, you and the students should go through the dialogue from Activity Two once more, with you taking on the role of the waiter. Any student can put their hand up and say the next line. This will allow you to see how much they have learnt from doing the role playing activity.
Finally, congratulate the students on all their hard work in the lesson that day and let them know that you will be continuing more work on this topic in the next session.
1 minute
3 minutes
1 minute