Thursday, February 21, 2013

EPIK Orientation Day 1

Even though I arrived at orientation yesterday, today was the first day where we actually had to do anything so I am going to call this EPIK Orientation Day 1. 

I was awoken by a loud "official EPIK announcement" at around 6:45am this morning which was blasted over the public address system informing the first group that they need to be down stairs at 7am for their medical exam. I tried to get some more sleep but was repeatedly woken by "official EPIK announcements" so I gave up and spent some time reading the massive orientation text book they gave us instead. 

About 2 hours later it was time for my medical exam. There was a urine drug test (I hate these, don't tell me when I have to go to the bathroom), height and weight check, eye exam (they told me to keep my glasses on), medical survey, blood pressure test, blood test and a chest xray (they had a bus with an xray machine in it on site). The test was surprisingly quick considering how many people they had to churn through. I think all up the test only took about 15 minutes. 

After lunch we had the opening ceremony. 

As far as opening ceremonies go it was good. The speeches were short, the seating was comfortable and it was nice and warm :). After the speeches some traditional Korean singers and dancers went up on stage and did their thing. 

After the opening ceremony we had a short break and then ploughed on into a lecture on Korean culture and history. To many of you it might sound boring, but we had a really fantastic speaker. I was quite disappointed that he had to cut his lecture short because he was running over time. He had lived here for 15 years and had some interesting insights. One of the things that I though was interesting is that in Korea each day two convenience stores open each day and now there are over 14,000 convenience stores open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Another interesting topic he talked about was the size of the country and the population density. I already knew the population was about twice that of Australia and that the land area of South Korea is about the same as Tasmania, but what I did not realise is how little of South Korea can undergo urban development. Only about 30% of South Korea can be built on, the rest is all rugged mountain ranges and doesn't lend itself well high rise development. 50 million people squashed on to 30% of Tasmania. That really put things into perspective for me. 

The picture below shows a rough breakdown of the foreigners present in Korea. China was top of the list with about 700,000 followed by the USA with about 150,000 from memory. 

He also talked about etiquette in Korea but I will write about that in a later blog. 

After the lecture we broke off into smaller groups to discuss the next few days and work out our groups for a group assignment we have to present at the end of orientation. I have to (with my partner) write a English lesson plan for year 10 students on the topic of "shopping". I think it will be an easy topic to write a lesson plan for. We can use more advanced language and shopping is an interesting topic for most young people (particularly girls). 

That is all for today.

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