Every blog I’ve read about the EPIK process invariably has a post about the dreaded Wait – that period of time between your paperwork getting accepted by the main EPIK office in Seoul and the day you actually get confirmation that you have a school placement in a province. That wait can stretch to a couple of months or more, especially if you get all of your paperwork done and submitted on the early side. Submitting your paperwork as early as possible theoretically ups your chances of actually getting a placement, but gosh does it make the wait seem interminable…
In the meantime, I’m trying to distract myself with prepping for my big move as much as possible. I’m slimming down my closet, getting rid of old knick-knacks with no nostalgic value, and reducing my collection of books to a quarter of its previous size (anyone who knows me will know that this was the most painful process). I’m also attempting to prep for the experience of actually living in Korea, and thought I’d share a list of things I’d found useful in case anyone else is looking to do the same:
- Coursera is currently offering a “First Step Korean” class taught by a professor from Yonsei University in Seoul. I’m going to have to do a lot of reviewing as it’s pretty fast-paced, but the teacher does a great job of explaining the pieces that are most likely to trip you up, and I’m printing out the worksheets so I can study on my own.
- Talk To Me In Korean (that podcast that you’ve probably already heard of) is a fantastic site with a free app as well as books and audio lessons you can buy. I haven’t invested in any of their paid materials yet, but I love the podcast and I’m probably going to be asking for one of their textbooks for Christmas.
- Trying to come up with some very basic lesson ideas while I’m still here in the States. It’s true that in Korea I’ll be expected to work out of a textbook, but I figure it never hurts to have some ideas for the first day, or for camps that I’ll be expected to teach during school breaks. Sites like Waygook, ESLPrintables, Dave’s ESL Cafe, and Googling/stalking current EPIK teachers blogs can be great starting points. 😉
- Reading up on Korean news. I’ve got several English-language Korean news sites like Korea Times, Chosun Ilbo, and Busan Haps bookmarked and I try to at least read the headlines every few days. It’s helped me to move past the international headlines (hello, President Park’s current drama) and get a sense of what else everyday Koreans are paying attention to.
Other random things I’m trying to make sure I get done before I leave:
- Finishing up any necessary vaccinations (some of these are multi-shot series that need months between them, so sooner rather than later)
- Getting all of those pesky annual check-ups (GP, optician, dentist, etc.) done while you’re still Stateside. Also important – ordering any meds/contacts/glasses you may need (remember to check if you can find it in Korea, otherwise order a year’s supply).
- Letting banks, credit card companies, student loan providers, etc. know that you’re going to be traveling (so you don’t suddenly have your bank account frozen while trying to buy a coffee in Incheon Airport after stumbling off your 16-hour flight).
- Somewhat along these lines – switch every account that will let you over to electronic statements only (you should already be doing this for the environment, but it will also prevent your poor parents/whoever lives at your permanent U.S. address from being overwhelmed with mail).
- Making sure you’ve got a relative in the U.S. with a power of attorney, just in case there are financial issues that need to be dealt with in person back home while you’re gone.
- Cancelling any subscription services you have (I’ve still got my hopes up for managing to make Netflix work in Korea, but I’m canceling a bunch of other services).
I’m just hoping if I concentrate on these things enough, my placement will be here before I know it…