10 Things To Expect At An EPIK Orientation (Part 2)

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Last week I shared 5 things you can expect to happen at your EPIK orientation. Let’s finish off this two part article with 5 more things to expect below.

6. A Field Trip

Sometime during your first week you’ll get the chance to leave the confines of your orientation site and be whisked away on a cultural field trip. Where you’ll be taken will depend on your particular orientation. The orientation I attended took us to Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul. After an hour of exploration, we were taken out for a traditional lunch of bibimbap and kimchi. Then our group was led into a small theater to see Korean folk dances (which are beautiful, by the way).

The whole trip was a breath of fresh air after long days crammed with lectures, bouts of jet lag nausea, and meeting new people. Just keep in mind during this free day that it is technically a field trip with the EPIK organization. You will have to wear a uniformed EPIK t-shirt and your name tag. Also, be sure to be on your best behavior. EPIK asks that you represent the organization well. There are horror stories that circulate in every orientation class (started by the organizers no doubt to discourage misbehavior) about prospective teachers being sent back to their home countries because they were caught getting tanked on the field trip. You’ll have plenty of time for soju sipping and galavanting about Korea soon enough, so play it safe and refrain from alcohol and horseplay for the day.

7. A Culture Lesson

The EPIK organization does a great job of trying to teach its new teachers about Korean culture in a fun way. Not only will you have Korean culture and Korean language lectures to attend, but you will get the chance to take a “hands on” culture class as well. It seems the most popular class that EPIK offers often is taekwondo. You’ll prance about in a taekwondo uniform as you learn how to yell, kick, and punch. The grand finale of the class is board breaking. Everyone is given a board and a marker with which to write a personal fear or goal on their board. After a quick lecture on how to correctly break a board, you get to give it a shot.

For those who aren’t in the physical shape to break a board like yours truly, never fear. The taekwondo master will come and assist you. While it’s a fun class, I think it’s safe to assume that taekwondo won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. You won’t get into trouble or kicked out of EPIK if you decide to sit off to a side and watch, but you are required to attend. If you’ve read any of my previous articles, I’m sure you know what advice I’m about to give. TRY IT.

8. An Information Overload

Similar to university orientation, the main goal of EPIK is to keep you busy during the week with lectures and activities that will prepare you for your time in South Korea, so you should fully expect an information overload. All of the lectures are mandatory so you might as well get as much out of them as you can.

In all honestly, a good chunk of what you’ll hear in your lectures will be repeated again and again. The saying “everyone’s experience will be different” is one that you’ll hear every presenter utter at least twice before their hour is up, but try to be positive and make the most of what the lecturers present. Some will even hand out the address to their websites, emails, or Facebook. It’s wise to keep these saved in a binder. The websites you’ll be given are chocked full of useful information and ideas which can help your ease your lesson planning when you’re finally set free and teaching English in Korea.

9. An End Of Orientation Lesson Demonstration

This one was a shock to most at orientation. All teachers are required to give a short lesson demonstration in your lecture class. Most people were pretty nervous as they fervently practiced their lesson demos for hours during their free time. By all means, please take it seriously, but don’t kill yourself with worry and dread over it. You won’t be kicked out of Korea and EPIK or fired if you fail miserably.

Think of it simply as an opportunity for feedback. You’ll stand up there with a partner and give a simple lesson on anything from weather vocabulary to hobbies then speak to a veteran teacher afterward about how your lesson was executed. No need to panic or freak out if you happen to be a newbie to teaching. There will be countless other novice teachers in the room with you. Encourage one another, and try to be helpful when it’s their turn to present. No one likes to teach to a room full of crickets.

10. You’ll Make Friends!

I suppose this shouldn’t be on the list as it’s quite obvious, but I think most people are unaware just how deep some of the friendships they make at orientation will run. When I thought about moving to Korea, all I envisioned was being surrounded by Korean friends who would show me the true side of Korea that tourists don’t get to see. I had completely disregarded that I would need fellow expats as friends. After my orientation, I realized just how wrong I had been to think I wouldn’t need to surround myself with people who would understand my purpose for being in Korea, traveling, and exploring.

Expat friends will understand the term “homesickness” all too well and can relate when you have your bad days. They’ll laugh along at the corny memes and jokes about teaching abroad that you post on Facebook. Better still, they’ll be your friends long after you’ve left Korea. These people are embarking on a journey around the world just as you are. You’ll be surprised to find plenty of kindred spirits with whom to share your new adventure in Korea with at your EPIK orientation.

To all those about to start the journey to Korea, I wish you a wonderful experience and happy EPIK orientation. If you have any questions regarding the topic, feel free to leave a comment below! 

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