Wow! What a week that was… orientation was an insanely busy week filled with memorable experiences and invaluable knowledge. While the entire week is a bit of a blur, I will attempt to document my experience.
Day 1: Arrival
On February 19, 2017 I landed in Busan, South Korea prepared to start my week long orientation. We stayed at the Busan University of Foreign Studies, a beautiful school in the mountains outside of the Busan city center. I had my first jet-lagged subway experience (Thanks Lauren).
Top left: First time riding the subway in Korea (in typical Asian fashion). Top right: My dorm room for the week. Bottom: View from my dorm at BUFS.
Day 2: Opening Ceremony
This day we had the opening ceremony – the highlight being a Taekwondo performance.
Day 3: Medical Check-up, Lectures & Soju…
Since I am a baby and don’t like needles, I was lucky enough to get my medical check-up out of the way first thing in the morning and had some time to rest after. A few of us went out that night and I had my first Soju experience. For those of you who don’t know what soju is, it’s essentially less strong vodka. Not so great for a red wine kinda girl. However, I embraced the Korean way and drank the Soju!
Day 4: Lectures, Lectures, Lectures + Korean
The following day we had endless hours of lectures teaching us about Korean history and culture, teaching methods, classroom management, and the Korean language. Needless to say, I was brain-dead after a full day of learning.
Day 5: Busan Field Trip + More Soju…
The field-trip into Busan provided a much needed break from all of the lectures. We visited Haeundae Beach, and the UN Memorial Cemetery. Due to it being a weekday (and since it was February), the beach was quiet and significantly less populated than it will be when I visit in the summer.
Day 6: Lectures & Taekwondo
Once again, more lectures. Luckily, we got a break to take a Taekwondo lesson. We got to break a board in half with our hands that had a goal on it that we had set for ourselves for the year. I chose “Climb as many mountains in Korea as I can”… great goal seeing as I come from a region seriously lacking in mountains.
Day 7: Lectures + Lesson Demo Prep
Again, more lectures….and a lot of time spent preparing for our lesson demonstration the following day. After a few technological glitches and some rusty practice attempts, we felt confident.
Day 8: Lesson Demonstration & Closing Ceremony
On the last full day, we did our lesson demonstrations with our classes. I was happy that mine went very smoothly and helped me feel more confident moving into a teaching position. Two of us took a hike behind the university on lunch time, which was beautiful. We had a closing ceremony and a massive dinner, and just like that – orientation had come to an end. Ps. Korean convenient stores are pretty sweet and you can even get Pikachu coffee cups…Coolio.
Day 9: Departure to Ulsan
Ah! Finally the day we had all been waiting for. We took a bus to Ulsan as a group to meet our Korean co-teachers and we got escorted to our apartments and schools. I couldn’t have been happier to get settled into my own place after the hustle and bustle of orientation!
Well, there you have it – that sums up my first 9 days in Korea at the EPIK orientation. I left the orientation excited and feeling prepared to live and work in Korea for the next year.