So let me tell you about orientation!!!
Our EPIK orientation (2 out of 3 orientation classes for the Spring) was split into 4 smaller teams. The above picture is of my Team 2! All of us have been placed in either the Jeonbuk or Sejong regions.
We represent the following countries (in alphabetical order): Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, and the US.
Backtracking a little… I got to the Minneapolis airport at 3:30 AM on Sunday, February 19th, and after a quick layover in Toronto, arrived at Incheon, South Korea on Monday, February 20th at 3:30 PM. (It’s a 15-hour time difference.) I had joked that I was moving to South Korea if Trump got elected, so I think it’s a funny coincidence that I actually arrived at SK on President’s Day, lol.
A few minutes after getting off the plane, I hear: “Are you with EPIK?” Cue my first friend in SK: John, the chicken swooper from New Hampshire. I told him I was a vegetarian, and he told me he didn’t eat chicken because he has a chicken coop of pet chickens back home. He showed me pictures and told me about bathing them in his family tub and about his last goodbyes with them. John’s awesome. I could tell you a lot more about the self-proclaimed “Swoop King,” but you should watch his vlog instead! The one below is about our EPIK orientation, and it stars me!!!
Moving on, we got to Daejeon (where orientation was held) at about 8:00 PM that night and started orientation (late) at 10:00 AM the next morning. Orientation was 9 full days, typically starting at 9:00 AM and ending at about 8:30 PM. Although it was exhausting, especially due to the time difference, it was incredibly interesting and helpful. The buffet-style food that was included wasn’t bad, either!
Our days consisted of interactive classes to learn about teaching methods (which I’ll probably write a separate blog about) and about the Korean culture and language. We even had a cultural experience day in Jeonbuk, where we made Korean crafts and foods and toured a little Asian Renaissance festival-like event! My favorite part of orientation was the people, though. Everyone was off on their own and just as curious and open-minded as I, and among the welcoming positivity of the Koreans and staff, the atmosphere was euphoric.
On day 10, we all hopped (I ran, actually) on a bus to get dropped off at our provincial offices of education and go on our merry way to our apartments and schools. Did I mention that none of us knew exactly where they were going? That’ll be my next blog. Anyways, although we were being shipped off to TBD, it wasn’t that scary; we had all formed friendships (mostly group chats) and knew we were going to make plans to see each other soon and keep in touch in the meantime. I felt kind of like I had the support of a family, and in situations like this, it meant everything.
Pictured above: Erin (on the bottom left) who was the best team leader, and the rest of our Team 2’s beginner’s Korean class! No idea what the Korean part says.
Pictured above, left to right: Travis America (from South Africa HAHA), me, John the “Swoop King” from New Hampshire, and Vinko (South Africa – showed me pics of his rooftop pool parties back home, going to have some EPIK weekends in Seoul together)