Monday, February 11, 2013

My EPIK Adventure Part 7

Stage 4
The last stage to write about in the EPIK application process is Stage 4. There are a few different parts to this final stage of the EPIK application process.
  1. Getting your visa back
  2. Booking your flight 
  3. Packing your bag
  4. Attending the 9 day Orientation course in Korea with the other western teachers. In 2013 it will start on the 20th of February and conclude on the 28th of February. I will post more about this in a later blog.
Packing your bag
I am not going to list everything that someone should pack for South Korea, but here are some of the main things that I thought I should highlight for an EPIK teacher.

TESOL Certificate – To ensure you are paid at the higher rate make sure you take this with you.

EPIK Pre-Orientation Certificate – This should be completed before you go to Korea. The pre-orientation course is a simple online course consisting of 17 lessons on a range of topics from classroom management techniques to Korean political history. Each lesson takes about 30 minutes to complete. 

Letter of Australian Residency – If you would like to avoid paying Tax in Korea then take your residency letter with you and present it to the school you will be working in. 

Passport with Visa attached – Kind of obvious, they won’t let you get on the aeroplane in Australia let alone enter Korea unless you have this. 

Gifts – I hate buying gifts at the best of times and it irks me even more that I have to waste precious baggage allowance on them but they are something I have take with me. It is suggested that you should take some gifts for your students to use as prizes when you play games in class and also a gift for your Korean co-teacher. 

Some good gifts for children are
  1. Pens with Australian animals or themes
  2. Australian stickers
  3. Koala clips (these come in a pack of 12 from most cheap shops)
  4. Baloons with the australian flag on them
Some good gifts for adults are
  1. Coins (you can get special coin sets from the mint)
  2. Australian landscape books
  3. Shot glasses with Australian animals or themes (the drinking culture in Korea is quite strong)
  4. Small bowls with Australian animals or themes (in Korea meals are served with may side dishes so small bowls are always useful)
  5. Tim Tams – for anyone in not familiar with Australian cuisine this is a type of popular chocolate biscuit. You can’t go wrong with these.
  6. Australian wine – There are some very good wines produced in Australia. 
  7. Australian themed place mats
  8. Australian themed tea towel
  9. An Australian flag. You can pick up cheap flags for between $3 and $6 each. Good quality flags cost a bit more.
Cold and Flu Tablets – Since I will be flying to Korea in a cramped aluminium can filled with recirculated air, I think taking cold and flu tablets is a prudent measure. If I start to get sick the last thing I want to be doing is trudging around the streets in the freezing cold looking for some medication.

Warm clothing – In Australia it is relatively warm all year round, and even when it does cool off (in Queensland at least) it is not very cold. This means I have a very limited winter wardrobe. I have enough to keep me warm between the airport and the hotel but I am going to need to buy some warmer clothes if I am to survive. I considered buying stuff in Australia but concluded that 1) since it doesn’t get cold here we have a very limited range of winter clothing which isn’t suitable for the bitter cold weather in Korea and 2) anything I buy I will have to take onto the aeroplane with me. 

Money – I have about 500,000won (around $500) remaining from my trip to Korea in 2011. I will need a little more than that since I won’t get paid until the middle of March. My recruiting agent advised me to take at least 1,000,000 won with me to keep me going until I get paid but to be frank, the exchange rate offered in Australia is pathetic. I have found the best option is to open a bank account in Korea and get my Australian Dollars converted to Korean Won by the Bank. I can’t remember exactly what the exchange rate they offer is, but it is pretty much spot on what the daily floating market rate is. I will also have my credit card ready as a backup.

Deodorant – A few people have told me that deodorant is hard to find/expensive in South Korea so to be safe I am going to through a couple of cans in. 

You might have noticed that I did not include Korean power adapters on my list. This is because I worked out it is cheaper (and more convenient) for me just to buy a new phone charger and laptop power cable in Korea. 

That is all for today.

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