Saturday, September 28, 2013

EPIK Applicants Kill Trees

I think half my brain is already in Korea. This has to explain my tendency to begin a thought and then have it peter out before I even figure out... yeah.

I think that I have just been distracted while focusing on getting things DONE. I've had editing to do, my EPIK application to send, gathering proper paperwork and more. Meanwhile, I'm anxiously awaiting the start of my TEFL course (starting next week!) and then this picture shows up on EPIK's Twitter and Facebook:

See full tweet here.
Do you know what that stack is? THAT is a stack of already processed applications sent in directly to EPIK. Yowza! I know that each application consists of at least 10 pages -- hopefully more, because they ask for quite a few things to be included -- but that is a mighty tall stack. And how many of those applicants have more experience than me, a higher GPA, or know how to charm an interviewer better than me?

I have been told that I am a decent applicant, but I still feel nervous. Another part of me, the part I really should not be listening to, secretly hopes that half the applicants are super picky about their placement and don't want to go where I put as my preference. But, let's face it, the city I want to go to is pretty awesome. The more and more I learn about it, the more I want to at least take a trip there if not live there for a year.

I'll talk about my preferred placement in more detail later -- maybe when I find out where I'm actually being placed. I feel like I shouldn't talk about it here just yet, just in case I jinx myself or something.

If anyone has questions or comments, please leave them. I will do my best to answer.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Getting things done... sort of...

How do I describe how I feel right now?

Let's see... I feel like I've just leaped off the diving board. I haven't hit the water yet, but there is no going back. And, depending on the trajectory, wind speed and possible freak accidents where I perhaps collide with fellow diver I didn't notice, I could be hitting that water a lot sooner or later than I anticipated.

Yeah, that's how I feel...

Now that I have confused you, I will explain why I feel like this today. I have my EPIK application filled out (hopefully correctly), I have a photocopy of one recommendation letter and the physical copy of another (both of which are missing one small element that they require, eek.).

So, now I'm waiting for a number of things to arrive in the mail, and for all I know they could have been sucked up into a black hole and will never actually get to me. That, or they could show up tomorrow and all my under-the-surface panic attacks would be for naught. 

Pray for me. Wish me luck. I think I need it this week.


All is well! I am such a worrier. Got what I was waiting for in the mail and all of my paperwork is in order.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Be Brave in the Face of Adversity

I had a crummy morning yesterday, but I learned some valuable lessons from it:

  1. Being polite in the face of hostility is the way to go.
  2. You don't have to take hostility alone.
  3. You don't have to take hostility at all.
  4. Virtual hugs are awesome and always welcome.
  5. Dancing like a crazy person to some music for a while makes me feel better.

Also, I noticed today just how much I've changed when it comes to how I react to unpleasant situations. I used to internalize it so much that I would eventually shut down, or explode. I have learned to channel it into more productive things, which means I got a lot more done, including figuring out the whole lesson plan part of the EPIK application.


I have also learned how to talk more about the things that upset me. Whether it is through prayer, a friend, or family members -- do it. I chose all of the above. Let the emotions work their way through your system, because bottling them up makes them fester.

Just don't channel them towards anyone in a vicious way, because I think that's what happened to me...

Thank you to those who helped me feel better! A great big thank you! I am grateful to have you guys in my life.

And now, a song. Enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Why Teach?

Children are entertaining. They just are. They say things, do things, and even though those things occasionally mean you're cleaning up a disastrous mess or calling the doctor to schedule the removal of a foreign object from said child's ear, the entertaining or warm n' fuzzy moments pretty much make up for it.

But, mostly, it's the entertaining moments.

I might be saying this simply because I don't have kids of my own, but it's the fun moments that make it worth it for me. At least, that's what makes being around kids in a school environment worth it to me.

I was helping out at health fair this year (where they weigh you, see how tall you are, check your eyes and ears). I've helped out a number of years with the hearing part of the health fair, and it's always fun to test the really young ones who are doing it for the first or second time.

Most of them raise their hand so fast, they raise off their seats from the momentum. Others hesitantly lift their hand to touch the headphones for the first few frequencies, their hand getting higher as they go along. Each student seems to have their own unique reaction to hearing the strange warbling, alien bird sound in their ears. One kid even turned around and told me that I needed to turn it up because he couldn't hear it very well.

Well, I'll get right on that.

The point of me posting this is that I realized that I haven't really talked about the student side of teaching abroad. I've been keeping you guys posted about the application process, South Korea info and such, but I haven't told you about why I specifically decided that I wanted to work with children for a living.

This is why.

Kids are fun. Kids are great. When they get something, and they are enthusiastic about it, it's even better. I was kind of tired after a full day of health fair screenings, but I wasn't exhausted and I didn't feel like my day had been wasted. Today, I woke up at 9 since I didn't need to be up as early and felt like my day was half gone.

A while ago, I watched a video about motivation. My dad showed it to me, and now I'm going to share it with you on this blog:

The video is kind of long, so I'm just going to pin-point the one thing that is significant to me at this point in my life. I have some great jobs right now from some great companies, but it took quite a bit of work to find them among the crowd of "make $200 every day" and "Easy, Great Pay" jobs that weren't actually all that great.

There are more and more jobs out there that are asking freelance writers to write more for less. What they want is quantity over quality, and in the end you, the writer, hardly get paid and actually feel a little... icky.

Then, there are the jobs that offer decent pay, but are so monotonous that banging your head on the keyboard would be more interesting and meaningful. I had quite a few of those jobs in the past, and while people were telling me how great it must be to be able to work wherever and whenever I want, I was getting headaches.

There was no satisfaction of a job well done, no feeling like I'd made a positive impact on the world and half the time I felt like my work was being deconstructed in front of me to be worked on a hundred times more.

So, I put my foot down. I decided that I wasn't going to do those jobs anymore, even if it meant more time in between jobs. This decision has done wonders for my mental state. I feel less anxious, even though I'm making less money, and I actually look forward to the work.

Which is why I decided to finally work towards teaching ESL abroad. For me, the meaning behind the work outweighs the possible disasters. I get to spend time with students who are bound to surprise me and amuse me, and I get to learn more about a different culture. To top it all off, I get paid and I get housing.

Sounds good to me.

If you have any questions, comments (maybe you want to help me out a little...) feel free to leave 'em where I can seem 'em. I'll do my best to respond. 읽어 주셔서 감사합니다!

Friday, September 13, 2013

This is a blog update

So, I don't really have much to fill an entire blog post with this week, so I'm just going to keep this short and sweet, like me. *cough* *cough*

I'm working on filling out all the sections of the EPIK application right now, and waiting for my recommendation letters to arrive. Meanwhile, I'm taking on more jobs (both paying and volunteer), which are keeping me busy. I feel like I've been living inside a bubble this week, a busy and "what am I gonna put in this part of the application" bubble.

So, progress:

Application - Still need to finish the personal essay (1st draft nearly finished) and lesson plan (Worrying about this because I want it to be good).

Rec. Letters - Waiting.

FBI Background Check - I feel like I sent that through a black hole, but I might have a status update in a couple weeks.

Other stuff - What other stuff? I can't even think past the next few days right now.

That's it. Questions? Comments? If you have any, send them now or I might never write a blog post about them. Details or otherwise.

Thanks for reading. I'll keep you updated with anything that pops up.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Korvia Interview

First, I got my passport today. Yes! Only took about 2 weeks!

Second, after lots of thought and endless amounts of videos/posts/blogs, I decided to go with Korvia Consulting to help me find a job in South Korea as a teacher. I sent in my online application at the start of this week, and they contacted me soon after. I was surprised by the email, because they took the time to calculate my time zone for an interview time. They are in Korea, I'm in Arizona -- big time difference. They were an hour off, but the fact that they did that extra step made me feel pretty good about my decision.

For those who do not know what Korvia is, it is a consulting agency who works with some of the more common teaching programs in South Korea. They work with public schools, and they make sure that you get all of your paperwork in correctly. They also provide support, like helping you transition into a new culture, connect with other teachers who applied through Korvia and offer a free phone until you can get your own.

The interview I had with them Thursday night was my first of hopefully about two that I need to go through to hired. Korvia becomes a third recommendation when you apply through them. You need two recommendation letters from an academic or work related individual, but Korvia looks at your resume, asks you some questions and then sends off their impression of you and a recommendation to your potential employers.

I didn't really know what to expect from the interview before it happened but here's what did happen: We talked for about an hour, there was a lot of laughing, and we went off topic a LOT. So, hopefully that is a good thing. The agent I spoke to was very nice. She seemed impressed by a lot of my answers to her questions, but I'm not completely sure. She reassured me that she saw no reason why I shouldn't find be hired. I told her I was pretty flexible, adapted well and I was genuinely interested in learning a new culture. I also seem to have given the right answers to the questions concerning teaching children. Hopefully...

The Korvia agent talked about how competitive the job market was, especially for EPIK (the program I'm applying to). She saw no reason why I shouldn't be hired, but she did say that it was first come, first serve. She also suggested a few things, which I will be considering to improve my chances.

I marked on the questionnaire she sent me that I didn't have any Korean skills, because I really don't. I see being able to form a sentence as basic, which I can't do. What I do know are a few words here and there, and I know about half of the Korean writing system (Hangul) without having to stare blankly at it for a few minutes. Still learning how to read it faster, which is a good thing to learn so I don't look like a crazy foreigner, staring intensely at a sign and sounding out the letters like a 4-year-old.

When it came to that part of the interview, the Korvia agent told me that she was really surprised by pronunciation of a province I had mentioned earlier when asked about locations I might prefer. I realized later that I had no idea whether or not that was actually the correct pronunciation, since I'd never looked up the name in Hangul. I suppose I've become more familiar with it than I initially realized, and I might just be able to indicate that I have some Korean language skills on the application form.

What Korean words do I know? Well, I know a basic greeting, how to say thank you, sorry, ask for water. I know how to say tree and can name some fruits... So, if I ever need to apologize to a tree, I'm all set.

Now that I have done the interview with Korvia, I need to prepare my application to send in later this month.

Things I need to finish:

 - Application
 - Lesson plan (part of application)
 - Personal essay (also part of app)
 - Receive recommendation letters (expecting one very soon, yay!)

There is more to do, but much of it will be done later and would stress me out if I thought about it now. I'm also starting my TEFL course at the end of this month, and planning to volunteer to help tutor ESL students soon as part of my practicum experience. I think I have one location where I can do this, so things seem to be going well.

Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Wanna know how I got these bruises?

I left on Wednesday to go east for a wedding. The wedding was lovely. I'm very happy for my sister and my new brother-in-law. I'm just not going to go into great detail about that in this blog post, mostly because it feels awkward talking about my sister's wedding on a blog.

It went well. They're officially married. The End.

This blog post is prompted by something else: bruises. I have a lot of them after this trip. On my legs, on my arm and on my upper back. I can't remember how I got one of my bruises, but I do recall how the other ones came about.

Don't worry. I didn't get the bruises from the wedding or the wedding reception. I went to Saint Louis's City Museum, which is much like a jungle gym on steroids and museum wrapped into one. We did this they day before the wedding, and it was a blast... even if I did end up with bruised knees and lost my chapstick somewhere in the man-made caves.

I didn't take that many pictures, because I was too busy climbing and slipping into narrow spaces that only my 5'2'' frame could fit, but it was an experience. The first crawl space I came across upon entering made me feel claustrophobic. My brain kept telling me I wouldn't be able to fit in there. I'd get stuck and they'd have to call for someone to pull me out, or chisel away the walls.

So, I skipped the first crevice I saw and opted for a passageway where two could pass each other, while standing, and with plenty of room to spare. It took me around the back of a water fixture, to the other side of a giant whale, which was the center feature of that level.

At this point I'm feeling a little underwhelmed by my safe trip around. My sister has already moved up to one of the levels between the levels, and shouts down to me. We've lost track of our mom and dad, but you soon realize that this is part of the experience of City Museum -- finding yourself utterly lost, but someone managing to make it back to where you started simply by going, "I wonder where this leads?"

Seeing my sister up in a higher level lead me to my first "I wonder where this leads?" moment. I found an opening within some twisted branches that reminded me of a giant nest, and I went for it. Next thing I know, I'm crawling through spaces that I never thought I'd go and climbing through tubes of wire like I've been doing it for years.

I came across a guy while climbing through two gutted out planes and he said, "You've done this before, haven't you."

Nope. Just bringing out my inner monkey. Just remembering that up until about age 9 or 10, I climbed trees and crawled through tunnels all the time.

I need a place like this at home. Arrows show most of my trip around the outside of City Museum.

And then I went down that slide right there. Best slide I went on. 
I have to be honest. I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the climbing and the crawling part of this place. I kept thinking that I was too out of shape, I hadn't done anything like this for a while, I was going to have a panic attack and end up stuck somewhere where they wouldn't be able to get me out...

I had a lot of fun, though, and wish that I'd had more time to explore. I am definitely going back there some day. If anyone happens to know of places similar to this elsewhere, let me know. After this experience, I'm considering taking up climbing. Maybe not cliff climbing, but rock-wall climbing.

Baby steps.

Enjoy some more picture:

You can get to that dome on the other side.