This is the first post in a blog I hope to update fairly regularly for all the folks back in the States. Which, incidentally, I still am in the States, BUT, I thought I’d start with an all-you-should-know-about-my-decision spiel.
First things first. My interest in South Korea stems from getting really into KDramas and KPop, or for all you non-in-the-know people, Korean Dramas and Korean Pop music. I mean, I got REALLY into KDramas. So much so, that I convinced myself to start learning the language. I was picking up phrases and started to remember how to say certain things. I did some research and found out that the Korean alphabet is actually the most logical language to learn. The alphabet came about back in the 1400’s and the Joseon (old school name for Korea) king who created the script created it so the written language could be accessible to all his subjects, not just the rich courtiers and scholars. Korea also has almost 100% literacy! (97.9% as of this post date to be exact.) So, encouraged by the fact that nearly all the adult population of Korea could learn the script, I set out to learn Korean.
After learning the alphabet, I kept getting more and more excited about the prospect of using it in day to day life. With the combination of watching all the KDramas and learning the basis of the language, I realized I needed to go to Korea. It felt like the next step. But just visiting Korea didn’t feel like enough. Something you should know about me is that I’ve never really stepped out of my comfort zone. I was an English Lit major and ended up working in a bookstore – not really a stretch. The realization that I needed to be in Korea led me to think of ways to get over there. Being an English Lit major, teaching English seemed like just the right choice. I mean, I can’t COMPLETELY leave my comfort zone.
Next step: get my TEFL or Teach English as a Foreign Language certificate. When I looked up what I needed to actually teach abroad, I was all set because I was an English major in college. However, I had NO IDEA how to teach. Like, except for being a tutor for a year in college and training at work, I have no teaching experience at all. So, to ease my discomfort in the fact that I have no actual knowledge on how to teach, I took a TEFL course. I used Oxford Seminars and it was a really great experience. My program was in November 2014 and ran all day Saturday and Sunday for 3 weeks. With this program, I got 60 hours of class in person and 40 hours of online class. The in person class was really fun. Our class was small, it was held at Macalester College in St. Paul (really close!) and our instructor, Wendy Shervey, was really funny. I finished my 100 hour course in February. The online portion was monstrous. I had so much trouble staying motivated because it was all grammar quizzes, all the time. In case you weren’t aware, grammar is dry.
In December of 2014, I accepted a position at my current job that was what I had wanted since I started the 4 years previous so I waited one year before I actually applied, even with the TEFL under my belt. Luckily, TEFLs never expire. So, by the time I actually applied, EPIK or English Program in Korea starting requiring a TEFL which is so lucky for me that I already completed it. EPIK is in charge of placing English teachers in public schools all across South Korea and I decided to use a recruiter to help me navigate the super intense application process. The recruiter I am using is Greenheart Travel. They are based in Chicago and are a free program which helps applicants with the EPIK application. I found Greenheart by literally googling “teach abroad in South Korea.” They were the first link that popped up for me. When I saw there was no application fee, I was sold. Some application fees I’ve seen include the TESOL/TEFL course and I had already gotten that.
The application for EPIK becomes available twice yearly. I applied for the August intake, so the application became available on February 1st.
Now you know my reason for teaching abroad and my first steps on my long journey, I hope you will stick around and see what else this exciting opportunity affords me. In my next post, I will outline the exact timeline in my next post because I would have really appreciated something similar while filling out the application.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned!