Wednesday, February 17: Today, we arrive at Incheon International Airport in droves, hundreds of teachers hired under EPIK, the English Program in Korea, run by the Korean Ministry of Education. The English teachers hired by EPIK come from eight English-speaking countries: Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and South Africa.
After a large number of teachers congregate in the airport, we are herded onto buses which take us on a tw0-hour journey to either Jeonju University or Eulgi University, depending on our placement. The teachers to be placed in Busan, Gwangju, Ulsan, Jeonbuk, Gyeongbuk, or Gyeongnam go on buses to Jeonju Univerity and the teachers placed in Daegu, Daejeon, Incheon, Gangwon, Gyeonggi, Chungbuk, or Jeju go to Eulgi University. I’m on the bus to Jeonju University because my placement will be in Gyeongbuk province.
When we arrive at Jeonju University late at night, we are given a little welcome packet including an EPIK bath towel, an EPIK alarm clock, forest green EPIK sweatshirts and an EPIK orientation handbook. Then we are escorted to our dorm rooms, which we share with another EPIK teacher. I happen to be paired with Karen from Ireland, who is here to teach with her boyfriend.
Thursday, February 18: This morning we attend a performance of traditional Korean dance.
After a number of orientation activities, we have a large group dinner in a cold tent in the midst of the frigid Korean winter. The whole evening in this tent is horribly uncomfortable as we shiver and eat a huge buffet of Korean and other foods.
Friday, February 19: Today, we have a number of different orientation activities where we learn about the Korean public school system; they also try to teach us some basic Korean. We have all our activities on the campus of Jeonju University and it seems all the classrooms are freezing. I feel cold during the entire orientation. It sure is a good thing we got those EPIK sweatshirts.