Applying to EPIK #1 – One small step for man…

So welcome, intrepid adventurer, to this post about the EPIK application process. If you are reading this, I assume you are aware I came to Korea with EPIK in the Fall 2013 intake, which means that one year ago I was in your shoes. That is to say, wanting to apply but frantically searching the internet for advice at the same time. I am going to begin with a disclaimer – this application will have a UK based bias. Other folks, most of this is general information. It is just some specific things (such as going to the embassy, tax information and that kind of thing) I can’t help you other folks on. US folks, there is a bunch of information out there for you (Shimmering Seoul always offers bloody good advice on this sort of thing and is extremely useful).

Now that is all over, let us begin. For the initial stages, you only need submit an application form and two scanned letters of recommendation. Seoul applicants, you also need to fill out the Seoul Attachment Form. We will start with a look at the application for itself. Having looked over it, I don’t think it is any different from the one they used when I applied. Page one is simple enough and just covers your general information such as name, DOB, gender and nationality. The only bits I will discuss are sections four and five.

Section Four – This part of the form covers Korean heritage and citizenship. The questions here are simple enough (Are you ethnically Korean and does the Korean government consider you to be a holder of Korean citizenship?). As far as I am aware, the only difference this makes to your application is the kind of visa you will apply for later on. I can’t be certain, as I am not ethnically Korean.

Section Five – This section is important. It covers the times you will be available for interview, as well as the way they can contact you for it. Skype is the preferred way of undertaking an interview and I don’t know anyone that didn’t undertake their interview this way. The best piece of advice I can offer here is be as flexible as possible. Yes, this might mean an early morning or late night interview (in fact, that is basically a guarantee). However obvious it seems, the more you are available the easier it will be for them to interview you. On my application, I listed every available time and had my interview around 1pm KST (which was early morning back home in the UK).

The next several pages mostly cover your educational and previous teaching experiences. As you are applying to EPIK, I will assume you are already undertaking a TEFL qualification (now a requirement for applicants). When I applied I was undertaking my TEFL course and had some voluntary teaching experience. List anything you have, even if it is only two weeks. You must also write list the contact information for your two references. I will talk about these letters later in this post.

Placement preference is up next and I would suggest doing some research about the different provinces and things. Many people want Seoul or a similar large city. However, I would say don’t discount the provinces and smaller cities. I live in Cheongju, which is the capital of Chungbuk province. And it is great. Well placed for travel within Korea (central), not too big or small, great travel links (30 minutes from Dajeon) and a range of activities within the province itself. The only downside is it has no coastline at all. But you are never very far from one. Everything else on these pages is self-explanatory. If you have any questions, just leave me a comment and I will do my best to help.

The medical assessment section is up next. My advice would be fill it out as honestly as possible, except maybe for the mental illness section. I know of people here who had certain issues but didn’t mention them on their application, as there is a lot of social stigma attached to them in Korea. I won’t go into that here but it will make the whole application much easier. Again, the next two pages are self-explanatory.

As for the lesson plan and personal essay, I will upload them in separate posts later on today.

The letters of recommendation – I used a lecturer from my university and a teacher at the school I volunteered at. The only real advice I can offer is make sure the person knows you well (though if you have teaching experience, it would be wise to use someone from their as a reference). Make sure they sign and date the letters. With my application, this wasn’t the case and it was missed in the first round. It was not a big deal but added to my stress as I had to re-gather them when I was also sorting out things like criminal record checks.

The Seoul form is something I didn’t fill out, as I applied for Chungbuk last time. The only issue I can see on it is regarding the schools. In Seoul, they are only hiring for elementary schools at the moment. I think this is due to a scaling down of the programme itself within Seoul and other metropolitan centres.

Well, this post has gone on a bit. Check back for the next post soon. And good luck if you are applying. You won’t regret it. Coming here has been a great experience for me.

The Next Six Months (or How I Plan To Go Out And Start Living)

So, when I last left you all, I promised thrilling tales for this next instalment. Well, prepare yourselves. The tales might not be as thrilling as I promised but I hope you read on regardless. First, a quick update on me. This past month, I have spent a good amount in the Steam Winter Sale (but with much to show for it) and treated myself to a new 3DS and Pokemon Y (because growing up isn’t all responsibility and boredom). However, one of the most exciting things I have done is (finally) visit a PC Bang with some friends. For those that don’t know, a PC Bang is a large room (or building occasionally) where people go to play PC games at a surprisingly cheap rate. My friends took me to join them in playing League of Legends, possibly the most popular game here in Korea. It was pretty fun and I would suggest going to a PC Bang to anyone visiting Korea (even if it is just the once). The age range in them is impressive (I see everything from middle school students to business men), as is their popularity amongst both men and women.

Apart from this, I have been up to very little. Many of my friends did something wise (and something I wish I had done) and travelled away for their winter break. Thailand and Hong Kong topped the list of ‘Most Popular Places Visited by People Having More Fun Than Me’. I will offer this piece of advice to anyone reading this. If you come here (or go anywhere else) don’t do what I did and waste your holiday being ill and stuck at home. Go out. Visit things. See people. Create memories and stories. This next semester, I have promised myself I will go out and do things. I will see more of Korea (and finally put my camera to good use). I don’t want to reach the end of my time here with the only thing I have seen being my apartment walls. If I wanted to sit in, I could have just stayed in the UK and continued not having a life there. I am not sure exactly what I am doing yet but I have several things on my list.

  1. Go visit museums and galleries – I did this a lot with a good friend of mine in the UK and one of the things I miss most is walking down the South Bank and going to the Tate Modern. I already told you, but in that respect Rosie, you changed me for the better. In the time I knew you, I went from not understanding art at all to actually missing seeing it (I still don’t understand it, mind you…)
  2. Go to temples and other historic sites – Those of you that know me (which, currently, I assume is everyone reading this blog) will know I am a massive history nerd. Given that my degree is in history, this should not surprise you. But I have not really seen much history since I arrived here in Korea and seeing history was one of my reasons for coming here. So this next six months I am going to wonderfully fun history based things. The biggest thing I want to do? A temple stay!
  3. Finally meet my wonderful friend Hayley – I have known her since I was sixteen years old (thanks to the wonder that is the internet). Unfortunately, we had the major disadvantage of living about as far away from each other as possible (She is a Kiwi and I was based in the UK). BUT this summer, after seven years, I am finally going to meet her. I am pretty excited by this. The internet can be a wonderful thing sometimes and my friendship with her is the best thing to have come out of it.

Apart from this, I plan to write a short series on the EPIK Application process. Although this is of no use to my family, I hope that someone stumbles across it and finds it helpful. I know I spent a large amount of my time when I was applying searching the internet for advice. I am also going to read more (currently working my way through some Hemingway), write more and generally stop dreaming and start living.

Wherever you are, I hope that you all have a great year (like the one I have planned). And if you are thinking of coming to Korea, do it. What do you have to lose? This is the best thing I have ever done, and my only regret is not taking advantage of it more!
I shall sign off now. But I will write again soon.

New post on a new blog…

This is the first post I have done since way back in early January (my last post was on my last blog (http://anenglishmaninchungbuk.tumblr.com/). So, I hear you asking with excitement and glee? What have you been up to? To be honest, a lot but nothing all at the same time. Buckle up and prepare for excitement (as well as a long blog post) below.

Like every GET (Guest English Teacher) working at a public school in Korea I have spent the majority of January on Winter Break. However, for the majority of early January I was working on my winter camp. For those that don’t know, winter camp is something that almost every GET has to do. The kind of camp you do, and the length of your camp will vary from school to school and district to district. So, what did I do? Something that was surprisingly fun (and kept my boys engaged…for the most part). Week One of my two week camp was a thrilling adventure into the world of Doctor Who. A great love of mine is Sci-Fi and I was genuinely excited when I showed my boys some Doctor Who at the end of last semester and they loved it. This camp involved them designing a whole universe with a hero and culminated in them writing me a story. My favourite one involved Jesus being kidnapped and tortured so Buddah had to take over as ruler of the world (or something like that). I was pretty impressed with all the work I got, as some of the students tend to be a little lazier when it comes to doing work in my class.

The reaction of my boys when they heard about Doctor Who Camp

For my second week, I had planned more Sci-Fi based fun with a Back to the Future camp (the best trilogy ever made). However, on the last day of my Doctor Who Camp, my co-teacher asked if I could do a Sherlock camp instead. I agreed, remaining perfectly calm despite the fact this meant a lot more work on my part…

Inside, I was doing this…

However, I did get the work done (in part, thanks to an existing and wonderfully designed camp on Waygook) and the boys really enjoyed it. The one downside was that we never actually finished an episode of Sherlock. For the final day of my camp, I showed them Mr. Bean’s Holiday (a great movie and weirdly popular here…)

So, with my camp completed, I was free to enjoy my own holiday. Before it hit, I had all these wonderful ideas about what I would do, but rather disappointingly, I did nothing. Well, almost nothing. I had wanted to travel around Korea and see things that I had not seen. Instead, I spent the majority of my time at home, partly because I was suffering from an awful cold combined with insomnia and partly because I had managed to spend much more money than I realised.

This money (which seems to vanish from my account with more skill than Houdini) had gone on something of a good cause though – the many birthdays that I was celebrating during January (including my own). Several of my friends and I were due to have a joint birthday party in the local hangout/passive smoking room Buzz. But, at the final moment, disaster struck as one friend (who had been home in the US visiting his family) got stuck in Texas as his flight was delayed. Undeterred by this setback, Karen and I went ahead with our birthday party and it was a lot of fun. I got to catch up with people I had not seen in a while, have a great time and generally spend the first day of my holiday relaxing.

Great friends on a great night!

But what about your other friend, I hear you ask worried? Wasn’t he disappointed to not celebrate? Well, the next weekend we went out for his birthday (and also to see one of my friends perform with her band – a bloody good show it was too). This was similar to the previous week, with the addition of some random Austrian engineers (in town for work) and more tequila (never a good thing). Overall, it was a lot of fun and I am glad to have spent time celebrating with such wonderful people.

I will leave this post here for now (as it has gone on a little, hasn’t it?). Tune in soon for more updates on – How I spent a little too much in the Steam Sale, why I now have a 3DS AND how I spent several nights in smoke filled rooms, cursing random people on the internet with my two close friends.

Seriously, these guys are awesome.