Farewell to our EPIK orientation life & welcome to the the REAL Korea

Farewell to our EPIK orientation life & welcome to the the REAL Korea

All-nighter: Part of the finishing touches of orientation was that were put into groups and given lesson topics that we we’re suppose to plan for and do a mock  lesson as if we are really teaching a classroom full of students ranging from elementary to high school. The advice that we were given was that don’t worry too much about it because there’s no way that you can fit a 40-50 min-ish lesson into a 15 minute presentation to adults not students. We we given a few hours instead of more lectures to plan for presentation. Clearly that wasn’t enough time and that just worried the majority of us. We were reminded that dinner was going to be served only until 6:30? 7:30? and that we should go eat before the cafeteria closes. My group finished out lesson plan and decided to quickly get a bite to eat and start working on our presentations. Oh boy it took so much longer than it really should have, but I guess it was preparing us for a surprise that we’d quickly soon learn about when we were placed into our schools. In addition, one of my group members lost her voice so we were one person down during the presentation. My group met up after dinner and made it back to the lecture halls where we started working on our powerpoint, without wifi. We pieced together as much as we could until they kicked us out where we migrated to the the lobby of the dorms. My two members decided the roles we’d take during the presentation while I ran upstairs to my dorm room to finish the powerpoint with some internet, just adding pictures and the finishing touches. I made my way downstairs to the lobby where my members told me my role and then we migrated once again this time to the cafeteria to to a dry run of our presentation. There was another group practicing too, we both looked at each wondering when we’d actually finish. After maybe trying it twice, we decided that we should call it a night and made our way up to our rooms, praying that we’d have some sort of miracle too they next day.

Presentations: I honestly think that everyone did a great job under the circumstances that we were given, but some did a seriously amazing job under the circumstances that we were given. I think that did good, better than we expected I think. I learned a lot and it was a valuable learning experience for me.

School placements: Right after the presentations we were to go to our assigned rooms based on our provinces in order to find our cities and school school placements. It was seriously nerve wreaking and exciting at the same time. When our POE and regional directions showed, my heart stood still, I think everyone’s heart did. My phone was in my hand ready to google search where I’d be living for the next year. And then they started passing out our contract where our main schools and cities would be written on it. My name is called first in my group of friends and… it’s in Korean. The POE kindly came over and translated it for me, writing it down in English so that I could google it. I’ve been placed in Chilgok at Yakdong elementary school. The POE told me in Korean English speaking voice, small city and small elementary school. I thought to myself, I’ve been placed rural, I knew it. Now it was time to find anyone at orientation that has been placed in the same area as you. I found 4 other girls that where also placed in Chilgok. My luck none of my friends that I made at orientation were actually placed in the same city as me. Placements and contracts are turned in and we make our ways to the closing ceremony.

Closing ceremony: The closing ceremony was were we all talked madly about where we were placed. Using our phone to try to see how far we were from one another. Using the time before the ceremony started to plan trips to visit one another already. The ceremony was nice. Of course class 4 represented the best. :D Oh if you missed it our k-pop class did their cover of crayon pop’s bar bar bar. For your enjoyment here it is…

They also put together a video of our time together at orientation, very sweet.


Farewell dinner and last goodbyes: This meal that they planned for us was MASSIVE, no lie, MASSIVE. We had to eat with our classes, but that’s okay, I like them. We were given our medical check-ups and certificates of completions of the EPIK orientation. To put it into simple, it was a good-by dinner where we talked about how we survived this orientation and how we were going to pack all our things in order to go out for drinks after the dinner. We took pictures and we told each other that we never wanted to leave on another. I knew these people for 9 days, yes  9 days. But in those 9 days, these people became my family away from my family. We bonded with one another. We found common interest with one another. And we became each other’s support system while away from our own support systems. It was as if we’ve known each other for years, when it was only 9 days.

After dinner, the majority of the teachers at orientation went out for drinks, I think except for me and my roomie. Karen was dead sick. The was no way that I’d leave her alone on our last night together. Like I said we became each others family in our short time together. Instead of going up stairs and start to pack Karen and I laid on the floor on our computers looking up our locations and talking to each other. We learned that we would be 5-6 hours apart form each other! Horrible feeling. The two of us went downstairs to say good bye to those waiting for us to go out to drinks. Some how we dragged ourselves back upstairs and started packing. The next thing I knew it, we in bed talking about how much we’d miss each other.

Last morning together: I woke up feeling horrible but I manage somehow to get my things together. Karen’s bus was to leave about an hour before mine. The plan was to take her things down to the load onto the bus, eat breakfast together with the rest of group, and then load my things on to my bus and say our good-byes. Didn’t work out that way. A whole bunch of no they said this and no they said that. I dragged my things downstairs somehow with Karen’s help after our brief breakfast with everyone (I think) and hugged my roommate goodbye as if the two of us would never see each other again. My province then sat down in the lobby waiting for our loading time.

The moment came when we all piled onto our respected buses and waved goodbye to our EPIK orientation. It was about a hour and a half bus ride to the rest stop where we were able to stop and walk for a little bit. I spend a good amount of that time sleeping. Once back on the bus it was another hour-ish bus right to the lunch location, where once again I spend a good amount of that time sleeping because I was started to get sick. I think by that time everyone also pretty tired too, I could hear a lot of people sleeping. We made it to Gumi, the where we stopped for lunch. At this point I’m started to feel more and more horrible. I just want to lay down. Once lunch is finished we get back on to the bus and are told that the bus ride would take about 10-15 minutes until we reach the meeting location for with our co-teachers, and everyone is nervous.

Meeting our co-teachers: We get dropped off at our location where we are suppose to meet our co-teachers and everyone is nervous. Any on walking by our group we think that it’s someone’s co-teacher. Peter is the first to go and everyone is excited from that point one. Once peter leaves the other co-teachers start arriving. They come holding signs with our name printed of them. Everyone’s yelling each others name and pointing them to the direction of where they are. But then my name is called! I see a sign with my name printed on it and standing in front of me is my co-teacher. This is REAL. My co-teachers name is Sunny, she came along with last year’s co-teacher Justin and our school’s vice principle to meet me. And right away I’m overwhelmed. My bags are too heavy, I’m sick and all I want to do is sleep and not look rude at the same time. They take me to the immigration office right away to apply for my NRC card and we’re off to a rough start. My co-teacher want me to give her a my medical check-up clearance but I was told that I didn’t need it to apply for my NRC card so I didn’t have it on me, I put it in my large luggage. Only if you can see the embarrassment I felt going though my bags in the parking lot of the immigration office with my things all over the floor. It was horrible. When we get inside and start filling out the forms, I learned that my picture that i had brought with me that I took at home from costco was no good because it didn’t show my ears. Yeah, I told rough start. Somehow we manage to finish and make our want into the city were I opened a Korean bank account. Then it started to rain and of course I didn’t have an umbrella with me. Then off to my new school. I met some of the staff and my new principle. I earn bonus points with him for introducing myself very well in Korean and for being a volleyball fan. He called me cute and wanted me to call him dad. I think he like me. When we finally made it to my new apartment. Poor Justin had to carry my SUPER HEAVY bags up to the 5th floor. Dude must of hated me. I was treated to a meal at the bulgogi restaurant close by to my apartment. I really that they didn’t misunderstand me. I was sick and I blame Karen 100%.

First day alone: My first day alone was pretty simple. I slept, ate, and slept again. I so flippin’ sick at this point. I had no energy to do anything else. Sunny did call me later on that night and took me walking around the city, showing me where everything was, the market, hospital, and train station. With my luck that day, I get locked out of my apartment building because I forget how to use the pass code. Yay, welcome to Korea. I did manage to communicate with my landlady and get back to my apartment and straight back into bed.

First weekend in Daegu: Turns out I’m only 20 minutes by train away from Daegu, which is the largest city in my Province. There was a big welcome to Daegu party and other cites where invited so I decided to go in. But the information that I knew was that it was a welcome dinner thing at least I thought. I didn’t think that I would spend the night or anything and that I’d be back sleeping in my bed by 11 that night. I was wrong. It was in downtown Daegu and it didn’t start till 10. I just got a message from Peter saying I’ll see you in Daegu at 2 and that was the plan. Of course with my luck the moment I step in Daegu I get lost, I know. But thank goodness for Peter and Sydney, I don’t know what I would have done without those two. We literally just hung out with other peeps until the party the started. I lied we meet up with other peeps, grabbed a bite to eat and then when to the party. It was memorable. I think that everything that I’ve done here is. After the party, at Urban we hit up another party a few shops down, but I already reached my limit at Urban. Then of course we went to norabang! But I was dead tired already. I left before the party ended I want to say 3:30ish, yea dead tired. I think the rest of the guys were out until 5? 5:30? I KNOW! I was up at 8:30 watching cartoons at Eileen’s apartment like a little kid. We met up with others and had brunch. I was starving anything would had tasted good at that point. I told my group that I just wanted to go home and shower and change. So we went to my place. As I showered, Peter slept on the floor, and I think so did Ashley and Nicole. Everyone was just dead. I made them a pancakes as a snack and walked them back to the train stop.

First day of school: One of the other teachers picked me up and has been picking me up everyday this week and taking me to school cause it’s freezing outside and they feel bad for the little Californian girl. I so grateful towards. Super nice guy. everyone’s super nice to me. The I walk onto campus everyone wonders who I am. I’m told that I’m the first non-white EPIK teacher. I’m the first Asian English speaking EPIK teacher to come to their school, so everyone was looking for a blond new EPIK teacher. Everything about this school is cute, seriously. It kind of reminds me of VAS, it’s grades 1-6  and there are only 2 classes for each grade with 20ish students in each class, so very VAS like. We had our opening ceremony for the new school year where I was introduced to the students, the rest of the staff, and some of the parents. Since it was the first day, there was no lessons for the English classes. Thus ending my first day with desk warming.

Getting the students and staff use to me: There’s a lot of questions about me. A lot of pointing and whispering when I walk by. They as Sunny if I’m American and then turn to talk to one another again about me. When I sat in the teachers office the first day I can hear the staff standing outside trying to pronounce my name. It turns out that the s is hard for them to pronounce in this area. Maysa turns in May-ee-sa. But its okay, all I do is smile and say hello/hi to everyone, and I mean everyone. I made an introduction powerpoint with pictures of my family and friends back home to show my students and started doing intros on day two until today and it worked well. The students seemed to really take to me, well at least I think that they did. I think it’s going to be okay.

The staff is amazing: We have volleyball staff team! I’m so excited about that. Every other Wednesday the staff gets together to play to practice for some sort of tournament, translation was a little lost for me. But it was a way for me to get to know the staff without words? The rules and terms are universal, we didn’t have to do much talking either. Later on we we to a welcome dinner at the same place that Sunny and Justin took me my first day in town. This was a little awkward, I wish I was playing volleyball again. I learned that Koreans drink soju like water dude. Even the older adults. Once one person starts going, everyone starts going. I had a few shots of soju because the vice principle poured me one. Then guess where we went after, that’s right norabang! And guess what we had there, more soju and beer! I forgot that these people where elementary school teachers. My principle, vice principle and co-teacher all had a turn at the mic, including me. Oh thanks for your warm cheers at my song choice of A thousand miles. I danced with the principle and vice principle. There was a lot of moments where I said to myself, oh my gosh what is happening now.

Everyone’s been soooooooooooooo amazing at my new school. I’ve been welcomed with open arms and everyone tries to make me feel as comfortable as possible. I haven’t walk to school or home from school yet. They feel bad having me cross this bridge because it’s windy. The only thing is that that I still don’t feel like my apartment is home yet. I’m still living out of my suitcases because I don’t have a closet/dresser yet. Hopefully, I’ll get one soon.


P.S. I uploaded my pictures to facebook so go there and see. Don’t be mad. Love you all.

till next time,


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