Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Orientation ends :(

The bubble of orientation has ended.  I didn't realize just how much of a bubble it was until I was no longer in it.  We lived in the dorm, had our meals provided for, were surrounded by hundreds of other English speakers, and didn't really have to find anything on our own.  It's a whole other world when you're actually in your city.  More on that later....

I told you in the last post that I would share what is different about the bathrooms.  Where do I begin? First of all, you have to get your toilet paper from the toilet paper dispenser before you go into the stall. If you forget, bad news for you.
Julie is displaying the toilet paper dispenser
Then, you do not put your toilet paper in the toilet.  Well...you're not supposed to.  Instead of putting it in the toilet, you put it in the trash bin next to the toilet.  Korea doesn't have good water pressure.  I've done this in other Asian countries too.  Weird, but you get used to it.

Next is the soap.  There are no soap dispensers....only a soap stick.  Reminds me of soap on a rope, except this is on a spindle stick like a rotisserie chicken.  It's a little odd.  OK...a lot odd.


After washing your hands, you would normally look for the paper towel dispenser or the hand dryer.  Well, at the university there are none.  So you dry your hands on your pants or air dry them.




Last, I loved the signs for the girls bathroom at the university.  I don't know why but a rectangle head made me laugh.

What's also cool about the university (and my school has them too) are the filtered water dispensers.  There is hot and cold water for you to fill up your water bottle.  We loved them and used them often.  The only bad thing was when too many people got cold water...then it went to just cool water.


I was really surprised how much I like EPIK orientation.  Coming from a teaching background, having taught 15 years in the states, I was worried that I would be incredibly bored in my classes learning how to teach.  However, I did learn quite a bit.  Teaching English in a foreign country is entirely different than teaching math or reading in the states.  I learned a lot of new strategies and ideas.  However, many of those will not apply at my new school.  For example, we learned how to use Power Point in our lessons, and pretty much every lesson is based off of that with pictures, games, videos, etc.  My students are either fully blind and read Braille or are visually impaired and have to hold the book close to their eyes so they can read it.  My absolute favorite thing about orientation is.....meeting all the people.  I have made some wonderful friends that will be living around South Korea.  Many of those friends are living in Daejeon.  The friends that are living in other cities have an open invitation to come visit me, and I with them.  That's a pretty cool thing, especially considering that I want to see as much of Korea as possible.

At the end of orientation, we had to present a lesson.  Each team had 2-3 people and a topic with a particular grade level.  My team consisted of myself, Brandon (who has taught 2 years in South Korea), and Anna (who has taught 2 years in Japan and actually met her husband there).  Our topic was weather, and our grade level was 3rd grade, which is the first year they learn English.  We had to create a 45-minute lesson plan and present a 15-minute snapshot of our lesson.  We evaluated each other's lessons and then met with our class evaluator, Matthew, who is from Liverpool, England.  We got great reviews and were even voted by the class as the top lesson.  Woo-hoo!  Luckily, all three of us have had teaching experience, so we were pretty lucky and grateful.  We got a cool gift as our prize.

Our prize, which was a beautiful keychain

After our lesson presentations, we all met up with our MOE/POE (Metropolitan Office of Education/Provincial Office of Education).  There are about 55 new EPIK teachers in Daejeon.  I think we have the best POE.  They gave us a book on our city, a snapshot and pictures of our school, and brought actual EPIK teachers to talk to us about Daejeon.  No one else got that.  With my teaching experience, my Masters in Education, and my ESL certification, I am in the highest paid teaching bracket.  If I choose to stay and teach another year, I will get a big bonus, extra paid vacation, and a raise.  They really do their best to make their teachers happy and keep them here in Daejeon.  That's a new thing for me.

The last part of our orientation was the Closing Ceremony.  They make it a pretty big deal, and I really enjoyed it.  The food was amazing and it kept going and going and going.  I've never seen so much food at a buffet.  Some of the guys had their plates piled high about 5 inches tall...not kidding.




I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture of my plate.  So here's a picture of my almost empty plate.  Looks great, right? 
Our Class 2 group who sat together at dinner.  The guys color coordinated and forgot to tell us girls apparently.

They had some special dances, including one dance presented by the K-Pop class (EPIK teachers who had already learned some Korean) - my roommate was in this class and absolutely raved about it.  I was a bit jealous...I'll admit it.  Our class leaders got to go on stage and receive their certificates. The rest of us just got our certificates after the ceremony.  Here is our class leader, Patrick, receiving his certificate.



And more last pictures at orientation.  I already miss all my friends.
We have our official certificates!
With Kim, one of our class leaders

The last part I have to talk about orientation is the luggage.  We had to bring our big luggage down to the lobby the night before we left (after the closing ceremony) and put it in the correct area for our city.  The next morning, the whole lobby was filled with luggage.  It was total chaos.  People are saying goodbye to their friends and trying to get their luggage out to the trucks and buses.  Crazy madness.

Last orientation pic with my roommate.  I already miss her.... :(

We then all went our separate ways to our new cities and new lives.  Let the games begin!  And may the odds be ever in our favor....

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