Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Renewal Process

Hi, everyone!

Some already know, but I should probably announce here that I have decided to renew my contract. The road to renewal is not as simple as you might think, so I thought that I would share some of the basic information with prospective ESL teachers.

There is a process that you have to go through, one of which I wasn't aware of until renewal time came around. I received a guide just last week with the details, which is where I'm getting my information for this post. I can't guarantee that it will be the same for you if you applied to a different area or program, but maybe it will help in some way.

First, timeline:

(The dates listed reflect my intake, not all)

GET Evaluation by Principal, VP and co-teachers (10.31~11.12)

Renewal Packet Submission to DMOE   (by 11.12)
 - Includes evaluation, renewal application
   and self health check report

Renewal Eligibility Screening and Evaluation  (11.13~11.21)

Official Notification for Approved Renewing GETs  (11.25)

Medical Check (11.26~12.09)

Signing New Contract and Document Submission (12.12)

Official Notification of Renewing & Non-renewing GETs (12.16)

Final Placement Notification of Transferring GETs (2.12)

So far, I've filled out and signed the renewal packet. This simply indicates whether you intend to stay, leave or transfer. You can back out before signing the contract since you're only expressing an interest in staying, and therefore doesn't hold the same consequences of breaking a contract.

November 25th can't come any faster for me at this point. I feel confident that my co-teachers have given me good scores, and I would like to think that the principal and VP have a decent enough impression of me despite our lack of interaction.  There is also the chance of budget cuts leaving me with no position to hold, but... happy thoughts, right?

More info on this later. Deep breaths, keep distracted. I can get through this until November 25th.....

Thank you for reading!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Pre-Sugar Crash Post (That sounds really confusing...)

I can feel myself getting closer to a sugar crash as I type this, but I feel like this is a good moment to refresh my blog.

Halloween has come and gone in Korea (Or Halloween Day, as my students have called it. I've been trying to correct that.), but it is still October 31st back home. Last year on this very date I was scheduled to have my interview with EPIK. I had to re-schedule, which made me super nervous about the whole thing, but it all worked out in the end.

It's crazy to think how I have come around to this date again. At that time I wasn't sure where I would be going, physically and metaphorically. Occasionally I would think about the possibility of never making it past the interview. All that work to get to that point, it would have been pointless.

I am grateful that I've gotten this far. I'm in a good place, with great people and students who to surprise me.

Happy Halloween, everyone! I REALLY need to go to bed now. Once I've had some sleep, I'm setting aside some time tomorrow to write more.... and probably check this post for typos.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Socialize? Pfffffft

All the students are taking tests today, so I figured this was a good time to test whether or not I still know how to write… As you can see, my ability to make poor jokes is still fully intact...

I’ve been in Korea for about 4 months now and my experience so far has surprised me. Is it culture shock? No. The way my brain works is this – the more unfamiliar it is, the easier it is for me to ease into it. The more familiar it’s supposed to be, the more nervous I am.

Do you know what’s really unfamiliar to me but should be familiar? Hanging out with people. I mean, like, going out and DOING things, chatting, having a meal together, etc. I panic a little inside just thinking about it. The shy person inside of me is going, “No, nononono. You can’t talk to these people. What are you going to say?” And then the introvert is saying, “Do We even have the energy for this? That book looks really nice right now.”

My introverted side speaks with the royal "We". 

But maybe it’s the fact that I’m in a foreign country that has given me the motivation to make plans that don’t involve my bed and a book. I once read something that discussed how you often make fast friends with people from the same country while you are both abroad. However, the curious thing is that in many cases when you return to your own country you might find that you have no idea why you bonded in the first place.

I certainly hope that this is not the case with many of the people I have met here (and not everyone I've been spending my time with is from the same country). They are wonderful people and I’m glad I met them. It does make me think of how much I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone. I’ve eaten out a lot with a group, helped cooked a meal, gone camping and traveled with people, gone to the movies about once a month… I even played basketball with a group of guys. You know how rare that is for me? I’m not athletic. I like to cheer people on from the sidelines, hopefully with some kind of barrier between me and the ball/puck/whatever so that I don’t get hit in the nose or doubled over from a ball to the gut (true stories, people).

Sharing this with whoever chooses to read this is my way of playing catch-up since, well, I haven’t been updating. If you happen to be one of those people I’ve met since coming here, thanks for making my time here so far already bewildering and amazing. Maybe I’m not so grateful for the bewildering part, but who really ever is when they’re going through it?

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What's Happened So Far: Part 2

Wow, this is long overdue.

Let’s do a quick re-cap of my trip to Seoul, shall we?

First, there was a lot of walking involved. A LOT. We went to Gyeongbok Palace (경복궁) the first day there. There are free tours offered, which I didn’t know until a middle school came up to us wearing a sash and asked if we wanted a tour guide for the palace. Word to the wise, it was okay to say yes in this case but I’d be wary of letting strangers guide me to less popular or busy areas.

Then, we went to a street market and got food. The amazing part about this market was that you could pay 5,000 won to get a food tray and some coins to purchase food around the market. It was pretty awesome, even though some of my food choices weren’t the best… But, hey, trying new foods.

Next… shopping. I’ll skip over the details of that. I got clothes. The end.

We also went to a trick eye museum. I have yet to upload those images, which I really should. What’s the point of going to a trick eye museum without pictures, right? They also had an ice museum, which would be fantastic to explore on a hot day.

After that, dinner at a place called Ho Lee Chow. Americanized Chinese food. We got orange chicken, which was really good but I have to admit that it’s not as good as Panda Express orange chicken.
Next day, we found ourselves outside one of the entertainment buildings. I don’t know much about Kpop bands, but I think by the abundance of fan graffiti on one side of the building I can tell you that BIG BANG is with that entertainment group. Then, it was a shopping area where we encountered a celebrity!

Well, sort of.

What we saw was a crowd of people around a store and then one of the celeb vans they have here. I never got a glance at who it was, but apparently it was an actress from a Kdrama I’ve never seen.

Last thing we went to was the coex mall, which was mostly closed for construction. They left the most expensive places open -- of course -- and so we decided to just go to the aquarium. This turned out to be much more interesting than I thought, because they had some cool designs. Also -- sardine feeding. Sounds lame, but it was in fact cool. 

When I got back home from Seoul it was close to 10pm. We took the fast train back, which I'm glad we did because I was pretty much ready to go to bed. 

Aaaand, that's it. This recap is kind of all over the place, but that's what happens when you try to play catch-up with a blog. Next blog post will be up sooner, I promise!

Thanks for reading. :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

What's Happened So Far: Part 1

I have seriously been lazy with the blog updates... and the picture taking. That's one thing everyone told me to do when I got here. "Take a lot of pictures."


So, after half a week in training, a weekend in Seoul and being told yesterday that I would be desk-warming today, I decided it was about time that I updated my blog. FINALLY.

I've already been at my school for over a month now. Time has gone by a lot faster than I thought it would. When I first arrived here, during that first week at EPIK orientation, I was very unsure of myself. I'd be in bed, my head resting on the drinking straw filled pillow (pretty much what it was), when suddenly a thought would pop into my head: "I can't do this. Why did I think I could do this?"

I felt even more nervous after the lesson demonstrations at the end of orientation. Our evaluator had basically nothing but praise for the other girl in my group, while I was told I had an "angry face". This was probably true, but only because he had also told me I had a small voice and kept turning towards me when he was giving criticism. So, understandably I felt singled out and upset.

Then I get to my school the next day. At this point, I feel like they're going to take one look at my teaching style and change their minds. Surely, I'm going to do something wrong and they'll send me home. I'll do something taboo, offend the principal, look unprofessional -- take your pick.

And then I met my co-workers.  

I've never felt more taken care of by a group of strangers in my life. I got food, clothes, teaching materials, supplies... Here I am worrying about making them happy when they are concerned that I feel comfortable. I feel really blessed to have the co-workers that I do. We are still developing our relationship, but I feel more comfortable than I thought I would.

As for my classes, once I got through the first-time jitters, I did pretty well. There are definitely off days (and our 5th graders are just plain rowdy), and I'm still learning but I have realized that I shouldn't take so much of what the evaluator said to heart. My co-teachers tell me that I have a good teacher voice and that I'm a good teacher. I think I just do better in front of kids than in front of a group of my fellow peers.

And then in-service training began...

These training sessions are supposed to make you feel pumped up to teach, right? There were a lot of helpful tips and information provided, yes, but I felt like I was going through that emotional roller-coaster of ineptitude once again. AKA "High School: The in-service training edition".

It was during training that I remembered just how much of an introvert I am, and how much the majority of the other EPIK teachers are not. I got tired of making conversation after the first day, and was completely NOT up to participating in most of the game demonstrations in our last class.

I hate to sound like such a sourpuss, but it just wasn't a pleasant experience. It was like I'd entered a black hole. I'd start to say something and then realize no one was actually listening to me. They'd already turned to someone else, and the conversation I thought I'd been having was apparently dropped already. Oops.


At least I had a fun weekend after that, which I'll get into for my next blog update. I might have desk-warming time on my hands right now, but this post is already long enough. Thanks for reading!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Well Balance Meal

I just ate mac and cheese with a side of kimchi, tomatoes, grapes, seasoned seaweed and drinking yogurt. I'm not making this up, people. This is what happens when you have limited utensils and cookware in your kitchen because you are waiting for pay-day to get the bulk of it.

Maybe I should eat this? No, too much prep work and I don't have a cutting board. This? Nope, I'd have left-overs and nothing to put them in. This? I... I have no idea what that is or how to prepare it, so no.

I've been wandering down many of the aisles where bachelors with no cooking skills linger. I'm not stereotyping here either. Most of the people I see in the pre-made, ready-to-eat, just-add-water food sections are guys who look like they don't have anyone at home to cook for or to cook for them.

For now, I'm one of them. Except I'm not a guy...

Anyways... The only meals I have lately that involve smart meal planning are school lunches, and school staff dinners (Hweshik). I really need to cut back on the carbs, though. I might be more active than before, but snacking on rice cakes is a disaster in the making. I looove rice cakes though! Most foreigners don't particularly care for them, but I love the chewy consistency. I haven't met a rice cake I didn't like so far. THIS is what I mean by rice cakes, by the way. Rice puff cakes are good too IMO, but they are nothing compared to these.

I know, I'm weird. I should just stick to my American sweets and snacks, and complain about how the cookie part of the Twix sold here doesn't taste the same (Really, it doesn't and while I am sad about this, I have come to terms with it).

Well, thank you for reading my blurb about my weird eating habits. I promise, my meals will be more coordinated soon. At least I haven't just gotten fast food for the past 2 weeks. I haven't even set foot in the Lotteria around the corner since my first night, even though I was craving some fries the other day.

Again, thanks for reading and talk to you soon.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Recap! The EPIK Teacher Edition

Hi Guys! I can log into my blog again, yay! Okay, so I forgot to change the security settings on my gmail account, so that's why I couldn't log in for a while. Fun, fun.

I have been at my new school for about a week and a half now. First week -- no lessons. This week, I've taught Grad 4, 5 and preschoolers. To be honest, the preschoolers were the most fun to be around even though I meet with them at the end of the day and I'm just about ready for a break by then. The teacher wanted me to sing a "Hello" song, which I totally blanked on. I don't know any "Hello" songs and I was suddenly too nervous just to make something up.

So, next time I'm going to be ready with a song. Let's hope I don't get too nervous though!

Before I get too deep into all of this, I need to play a little catch-up. I've been away for so long so.... Recap!

EPIK Orientation -- Think high school almost, but condensed. Scary, right? Or awesome, if you were one of those "high school glory days" peeps. You have about a week to find people you mesh with, learn some tips and tricks of the EPIK teacher trade and occasionally panic from all the info dumping. I met some cool people, had a lot of awkward moments with others and by the end of the week I was ready to lock myself in a room for an introvert day.

Which brings me to my new apartment, new school and new everything else...

I live in a studio apartment about 15 minutes walking distance from the elementary school I teach at now. I have 2 co-teachers, who I will refer to at YS and JS for future posts. YS has been an English teacher before, and has been a co-teacher before. JS is new to the school, new to being an English teacher and therefore new to being a co-teacher.


Okay, so I have to say there are things about Korean schools I like. I like that teachers get rotated from one school to another after so many odd years. I like that the staff are a kind-of mini community (which includes staff dinners and team building activities).

What I don't like is the fact that teachers are expected to rotate SUBJECTS. When I first heard this I was really, really confused. One of my office-mates is a PE teacher for the first time this year and, like I said, my co-teacher JS has never taught English before. Her English isn't that bad, but I can practically feel the struggle she is going through to communicate with me as well as the students.

So, I feel sorry for these teachers. I don't know how much thought is put into who gets transferred where (do they do interviews, look at entrance exam scores, what?), but I know that both co-workers mentioned are feeling a little panicked from the new experience. Poor JS.

Now... Outside of school stuff -- I couldn't get my heat to work the first night I moved into my new apartment. Neither could a co-worker who came over, but co-teacher YS came the next day to help meet the maintenance guy and so I only went without heat for about 1 day, which wasn't too bad.

I rode my first metro bus in Korea just this past Sunday when going to church. I got a little turned around, but made it to the church building safely. One of the missionaries was kind enough to translate for me, and then told me about a semi-English speaking session recently organized just 10 minutes away. So, I'll try to find that next Sunday. I also know which bus to take to get to an E-mart, so great experience.

That's it for this blog post. I have a lot to share, but this is already getting really long. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Significantly Unexpected Journey

February 18th

4 am -woke up after only about 3 hours of sleep. Finished packing.

~6 am - Journey to airport after hugging my mom goodbye.

7 am - Arrived at airport, hugged my dad goodbye, breezed through check in and security.

8:30 am - Boarded flight with Southwest to SFO.

10:00 am - Got off plane (wait for it) without departing because we needed to switch planes.

10:20 am - Re-boarded new plane. 

11:00 am - Finally took off.

12:20 pm (California time) - Arrival in San Francisco, missed my next flight.

12:35 pm - Baggage claim.

~2:00 pm and the rest of the evening - Awesome parents helped me out by getting me a hotel room for the night. I cried a little. Discovered pretty much all my jewelry was missing from my checked in luggage, which made me cry some more because those things had sentimental value. Made a lot of phone calls, got re-booked, ate because I hadn't eaten anything except pretzels and a piece of beef jerky since 8 am, posted like crazy on Facebook and went to bed.

*Time Skip*

19th - 20th

8:30 am - 12:30 pm - Made it back to SFO to check-in with Singapore Airlines, get through security and boarded my plane. 

12:55 pm - Take off. No one sitting next to me, which means both armrests are MINE! There's a cute baby in front of me. Pretty quiet as well as his fellow baby passenger (a girl). The baby boy keeps peeking between the seats to smile at me and reach out, so overall actually a better seating arrangement than my last flight and what I would have originally been assigned to had I made it in time for my original flight with Singapore Air.


We got snacks, lunch, and a light meal. I asked for the gluten free meal because you get a rice cake instead of a roll, which I thought would be better for my stomach on the flight. This turned out to be true, but not how I thought. I got queasy about 6-7 hours in and the rice cake was the only thing I could stomach during the light meal. I almost gagged when I opened the tin foil to discover chicken
and broccoli.

Note: Special diet meals get served first, so you can eat a lot sooner if you ask for one of those. 


The entertainment system had lots of options available. I played some games, used the language learning program to learn Korean numbers and watched 3 movies because I had a hard time sleeping sitting up. I got to watch Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, Windstorm (Ostwind) and The Face Reader (Favorite Korean actor was in this one!)

Overall Service

Soooo much better than Southwest. They offered plenty of drinks, there was more space and the flight attendants were decent. The seats are smaller compared to Southwest, but that was fine for me. The Southwest seats hit the back of my knees when I'm seated, but I have a couple inches in Singapore's seats. They were also slightly more comfortable than Southwest's, especially since I had a pillow and blanket.

6:45 pm 20th - Arrived in Incheon Airport. Followed the crowd through to the train, immigration, baggage and customs. Got some money exchanged, and pushed my heavy load towards the other end of the airport. I heard someone call my name when I was about halfway there, which turned out to be my recruiter! She gave me a hug. I was sweating like a pig from lugging all my heavy stuff, and I was exhausted, but sooo relieved to see a familiar face and to learn that I was in time for the last shuttle!

10:30 pm - Arrived in Daejeon at the orientation location. I was fully prepared to lug my stuff to the dorms, but I must have looked so pitiful with my rolling luggage that wouldn't roll straight and bag that kept slipping off my shoulder because one the EPIK coordinators ended up helping me. I then was asked by another guy later when I just had my duffle bag in hand if I needed help so, yeah, I'm just a damsel in distress here apparently.

Note to self: Start weight lifting, try to pack only one bag next time, and get all rollers instead of just one and a duffle bag.

We only get one key per room, which is to be left at the front desk when both roommates have left the dorms. My roommate finally got into bed around midnight, and I'll tell you all about the next day as soon as I get a chance to type that all up.

Oh, and surprisingly not as cold as I thought it would be when I got here. Other than the foreign words, Daejeon at night almost feels like Flagstaff, Arizona. No snow so far and no rain (thank goodness). I'll keep you posted! Thanks for reading! And sorry there aren't really any pictures on here. I will add some later!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Almost There!!

I realize I haven't updated this in a while. Things have been a little crazy around here. Packing, repacking, and still packing. I've been considering what I really need, especially after I lifted my large luggage and almost staggered.

Holy cow, it was heavy and I am WEAK!

So, I  decided to rethink my packing list/methods and also started a bit of strength training. A little close to really help, but at least I'm trying, eh?

It's the final countdown, people! I've finished my jobs here, gone through some of my things, gotten stocked up on things I might miss while there. Another EPIK teacher shared pictures of pricing at a department store in Korea and the imported stuff is EXPENSIVE. I think it was about $11 USD for a large bag of fun-size Twix, $8 USD for peanut butter.

Whaaaaat? My favorite snacks are now luxury items. Yikes. Don't even get me started on how much it could cost to get some decent root beer there.

Anyways, that's my update. I thought about doing a "What to Pack" post, but figured I can do that after I get settled in Korea, and have a better idea of what I really need.

Thanks for reading. Next time I post will either be on the way to or when I'm finally in Korea. Crazy!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tax Exemption Terrors - Form 8802

Taxes confuse me. There are so many forms, enough rules to fill a library and plenty of ways -- I feel -- to screw it up. So, when I was told that I should get started on the whole process to get a residency certificate so I could be exempt from Korean taxes while teaching, I sort of panicked.

To start you need to fill out form 8802, which is the form to request another form (6166).... whaaaat? How many forms are there going to be and am I going to be up to my ears in paperwork after all of this?

Turns out, it's not all that complicated or frightening. All you need to do is get a little help. I was directed to this blog post by my Korvia recruiter, which simplifies the whole process pretty well. It is a little out of date, however, so I'm going to go through the changes here in my blog post and share some resources.

First, you can find the form instructions here. And you can access the 8802 form here. The IRS website isn't all that organized, in my opinion. They have links that take you in circles and I finally had to search for "8802 instructions" in order to find that page. Ridiculous.

Even more ridiculous is some of the wording on this website, but I won't get into that now. That's a whole rant on its own. Instead, let's move on to the things you should know that have changed since "The Agony of IRS Forms" blog post was published, or just something I thought I should add.

1. The form now has a total of 12 lines, not 13. Don't panic, there aren't any pages missing.

2. For the perjury statement, things have changed. As an EPIK teacher (or any invited teacher coming to Korea, I think) you should be writing something like this:  

Countries other than Japan: [Insert name of individual and TIN] was a U.S. resident within the meaning of Article [20] of the U.S.-Korea treaty (including, in some cases, physical presence in the United States) immediately before entering Korea. The assignment began on [date] and ends on [date]. Article [20] of the U.S.-Korea treaty provides a [2 or 3] year exemption from income tax. 

Again, I had to go searching for the Article number, just like the instructions, but I've inserted the correct number here so you don't have to go through the same search process as myself. If you're wondering where I found the information, check here.

3. User fees are $85 per application. This increased April, 2012.

4. Mail:

Mail or Private Delivery Service

Send Form 8802 and all required attachments to this address only if you paid the user fee by e-payment.
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Philadelphia, PA 19255-0625
Private delivery services cannot deliver items to P.O. boxes. You must use the U.S. Postal Service to mail any item to an IRS P.O. box address.

Once you've mailed it off, the wait-time varies depending on when you've sent it. I mailed mine in late November, got it back late January. So, about 2 months. The form is very simple. It's funny how the IRS, a group I consider to be long-winded and confusing, would send me a form with ONE sentence on it, stating that I am a resident of the United States of America.

They might as well have sent it on a post-it note. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Update: The Visa Edition

Hey everyone!

I'm almost there! I sent in my visa form to the LA Korean consulate, and will hopefully get it back next week or the beginning of the next.

So, while I wait for all of that to go through, I've been working on some other stuff. I'm slowly sorting through my junk to see what I should and can bring with me. Obviously, I need all the documents EPIK has asked me to bring. I even have a form that will exempt me from being double taxed (yay!), which I will do a blog post for because it can be headache inducing.

Anyways, I have my tickets for my flight over to Korea. I'm so glad that I got them when I did, too, because a few days later the price went up. Thank goodness! Now I just need to:

- Wait for my visa (Hope there aren't any problems!)
- Eat lots of stuff I'm going to miss
- See a lot of people I'm going to miss
- Pack my stuff
- Fly to Korea!

So, later I'm going to write a blog post about the whole tax exemption process, and something about packing once I figure out what I'm doing. All I know is that the beginning of my process involves an open suitcase and junk being tossed around.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Double-Check The Inbox

I checked my spam folder last night, so I guess you could say I'm getting pretty anxious to hear something.

They said they'd mail stuff out this week so... fingers crossed because it's already Wednesday!


Work, EPIK pre-orientation, nervous pacing... I have been stretching out my time watching the pre-orientation videos because I know that if I finish them all before I get my email from Korvia, I'm probably going to listlessly wander around with no motivation to do anything else. THAT would be bad, especially since I needs mon-ay.

Again, fingers crossed! 


Just like magic, I've been notified that my packet is on its way. I got the tracking number and it looks like it's either at the airport or on its way out of Korea as I type this. Yay!

Now I just have to make sure the visa form is filled out correctly, which means calling the consulate. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Some Thoughts While Watching K-Dramas

While I'm waiting for emails to be sent and documents to be mailed, how about we go through some of the thoughts I've had while watching Korean dramas? I have enjoyed watching Kdramas, but they just have these moments where I have to stop and think... why?

Here's some thoughts for your enjoyment. Let me know if you agree. If you've never seen a Kdrama, you might not get some of these things, but enjoy the ones you do:

"Oppa! Saranghae! Blaaaaah."

"This guy/girl probably got this part because he's/she's a Kpop star. *Looks it up* Yup."

"Okay, so now we're hugging again. Totally thought a kiss was gonna happen. Definitely misread that soundtrack there."

"How do they not know that's a girl?"

"Why is there another shower scene????"

Followed by.

"I wonder if these guys just count this as their shower for the day or if they actually shower twice in one day."

"Close your eyes! He's kissing you!"

"This guy might as well be kissing a mannequin..."

"They're gonna kiss. I can feel it!"

"Piggyback time!"

"Don't leave your beverage/food item behind! I don't care if you're going for dramatic effect, you just ordered that!"

"Sloooow walking."

"I'm sooooo hungry..."


Thursday, January 9, 2014

The longest month of my life


Hey Emily, when are you heading to Korea?

Well... here's the thing. I don't really know. If the pattern continues, I might hear that my documents (contract, NOA, Info, etc.) are on their way by Tuesday. Unfortunately, EPIK keeps giving us different time estimates. Mid-January, late January, the end of January. After looking through some posts on Facebook, I figure that all of these dates are correct.

Some EPIK applicants have just BARELY received notification that they were accepted to the province or city of their choice. If you've already taken a look at my past posts, I've known which city I'll be going to for almost a month now. That puts me ahead of some applicants in the paperwork process. It's likely that they will try to send out documents at the same time for every accepted teacher, but I'm going to be closer to the top of that pile than to the bottom.

So, let's hope I get my documents (or at least notification that they are on their way) by next week.

That would be an awesome week. I've got some other terrific stuff going on in that week, so why not make it even better?

So, what step are you on and what's next?

- Pass EPIK interview
- Notification of city/province placement
- Wait for EPIK documents <------
- Apply for E-2 visa
- Buy plane ticket
- Fly to Korea
- Orientation
- Start Teaching

Wish me luck!


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Travel Health - South Korea

There's nothing like traveling to remind you of all the potential health risks out there in the world. Looking at a list of vaccinations and global health problems sometimes causes me to panic. I get the urge to seal up my windows and doors, and stock up on hand sanitizer. Germs! Foreign germs! It's like being an alien from another planet, only to die from Earth's common cold.

I've been preparing myself for my travels, as much as I can. I'm still waiting on those personal force fields that regulate air quality and temperature, killing any dangerous substance that passes through it (why has no one invented this yet?), but in the meantime -- shots. Lots of them. I think I mentioned a while back that I was sore for days after getting up-to-date on my vaccinations. Last week, I got even more shots (yay) but at least they didn't make me sore.

If you're planning to travel to South Korea, I suggest checking this MD Travel Health site first. Also, the CDC website is very helpful.

I was planning on getting the Japanese Encephalitis vaccination before I go, but since I'm going before the high risk season I was advised to get it while in Korea. It's cheaper, and since there is no definite expiration date on how long it lasts, getting it closer to high risk season (starting May) is probably wise. If I'd gotten it here, I would have had to pay $200 or more. In Korea it's roughly $20. Supply and demand.

I'm also planning to get my rabies vaccine there, maybe. It's not likely that I'll cuddle up to any wild animals, but...

I went to a travel medicine clinic to get the second batch of vaccinations for my travels. They didn't take insurance, which it seems most travel clinics in my area don't. They can give you a receipt, which you then submit to your insurance to see if they will reimburse you, but you pay it all up front.

If you have any questions that I didn't cover here, let me know. I'll do my best to answer. Next week I'll talk about... something else. I'm not sure yet. I'm getting closer to my departure date (which is kind of still up in the air at the moment), still raising money (help me out?) and getting things together (which will result in more preparation blog posts).

Any questions? Comments? Let me know. Thank you for reading!