living in korea

10 EPIK Haikus

As my year with EPIK comes to a close, I find myself thinking a lot about the experience. Below are 10 haikus that reflect what I’ve learned while living, teaching and traveling in South Korea (though really they’re applicable to anyone teaching or living abroad anywhere!).

 


Panoramic Korea

Below is a collection of panoramic shots taken throughout my year in Korea! Enjoy!


Too Short for Korea




Too ShortAs a 6’2″ waygook, I have never experienced the problem implied by the title of this post. In fact, it’s usually the exact opposite for me. Every day I exit buses with extra care and walk under umbrellas at local markets like Quasimodo. Koreans, young and old, marvel unabashedly at my towering presence.

Yet somehow, despite a constant self-awareness of my height, these days I’m feeling a bit…short. You see, in the military, to be or feel “short” actually has nothing to do with how tall a person is. Instead, it means that one’s contract or tour of duty is coming to an end; and that’s precisely where I’m at with my EPIK journey.


Naver Get Lost Again: A Guide to Bike Paths and Bike Travel in Korea

Naver is to Korea what Google is to America. It’s the go-to search engine and directions provider. And as far as mapped-out bike paths are concerned, Naver and Korea are both way ahead of the game. While it can be intimidating to stare at a screen filled with Korean words (there is no English setting, sorry), it’s actually still very possible to navigate. Here’s how:

To find a bicycle path near you:

1. Go to Naver Maps and zoom in on your desired location. Move about the map by clicking, holding and dragging. To zoom in and out, use the + / – feature placed vertically on the righthand side of the screen.


A Take on EPIK Intakes: When to start?

Native teachers enter the EPIK program via one of four different intakes: Winter, Late Winter, Fall, and Late Fall. Regardless of when they start, all teachers receive the same pay and benefits; and no intake is reserved for hiring more or less experienced teachers.  So when it comes to beginning your year in Korea, objectively speaking, no time of the year is better than another; and one could argue it really doesn’t matter. But after giving it some thought, I’ve realized there actually are pros and cons to arriving with each intake; which really means (if you have the luxury and freedom to choose) it is important to consider when you’d like to embark on this adventure. To make the comparison easier, let’s generalize the intakes into two groups: Winter and Fall.


TREEt Others The Way You Want to Be TREEted

Not Just A TreeIt’s the classic golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. But in the East, it’s more like: treat elders and higher ranking officials the way you’d want to be treated if you were in their position, whatever it takes.

Whether it’s a matter of age or authority, hierarchy is of the utmost importance in Korea. At all times, younger or lower ranking people make concious efforts to show their superiors the proper amount of respect they deserve; from the way they introduce themselves to higher ranking people, to the way they acknowledge or address them, to the way they eat and drink with them–as well as…how they plant trees for them.


Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

April 4th and 5th, 2015 marked the peak weekend for cherry blossoms here in South Korea, which meant it was time to travel with Enjoy Korea to the small seaport town of Jinhae for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival! The roughly $30 registration fee provided us with timely and convenient transportation that dropped us off, and picked us up, right in the middle of the action. And the tour schedule allowed for everyone to just do their own thing for the whole afternoon once we arrived! I’ve booked tours with Enjoy Korea twice now, and will do so again for the Mud Festival in July. I highly recommend them!


Jeju Trip and My First Visitor!

Whether you’re living abroad or just far away from home, nothing beats seeing a familiar face. Not only is it fun to play tour guide and show off a bit of your newly-acquired cultural knowledge. It’s also wonderful to feel like you’re a little closer to home, if only for awhile.

Two weeks ago I was able visit my best friend’s dad on Jeju Island while he was traveling for business in South Korea! It was fun to get away for the weekend, and even more fun to see him! Though our time together was short, we made the most of it by sampling the native foods of the island (black pig pork), hiking one of Jeju’s many volcanic craters, and soaking up the seaside views.


My Renewal Decision and 4 Life Lessons That Helped Me Make It

After thinking heavily about whether or not to renew my contract with EPIK, I’ve decided to return home in August. Signing on for a second year would offer me several enticing financial benefits and mouthwatering travel opportunities. And I’ve had a positive experience at my school, where I would continue to work if I were to renew. But during my time in Korea, I’ve learned or re-learned four life lessons, and made some new discoveries about myself, that have persuaded me to wrap things up at the one-year mark.


Teaching English in Korea – General Q & A


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