My 1st Full Week of Teaching

Oh wow. I’m exhausted. I just finished my first full week of teaching and I think it can be summed up in one word: exhausting.

I started Monday at my main middle school. I have three classes + 1 badminton class on Mondays and Wednesdays and only 2 classes on Tuesday. The badminton class is just conversations with 8 members of the girl’s badminton team. I don’t actually teach them how to play because God knows I don’t know a thing about it. I have to arrive at school by 8 for the badminton course but I get to leave early at 4. I only teach 1st and 2nd years at my main middle school and can I just say….the 1st years are so cute.

At my secondary middle school I teach 5 classes a day, 4 in a row in the morning and 1 after lunch. The schedule is tough and I’ll admit…I taught my introduction lesson 22 times and it was getting hard to mentally keep up. Once I started teaching my actual English lessons this week though, with different classes and lessons, it became easier.

The students at the girl’s middle school are much more curious about me than at my main school. At one point, before my 101 class, I saw students entering the classroom next to mine. I had the feeling they were supposed to be in my classroom so I tried talking to them. Now, it was my first time meeting them and they were then suddenly all around me, like curious little puppies, asking me who I was, where I came from, why I looked Korean, could I speak Korean- all at once. They were so cute so I asked them if they were class 101 and turns out they were! They were all like, OHHHHHHH and moved all their stuff into my classroom. SO CUTE. They just swarmed me out of nowhere and that was a sight to hold. lakdjflakdfdslkj, so cuteee.

If I had to compare the two schools…both are quite similar. They’re both in an area of lower-class families, students at both have limited English, both school are old, and both have limited technology (although the girl’s middle school has a bit more). But, I do find that it’s easier to teach at the all girl’s middle school. I wonder why? Maybe it’s because the students aren’t as curious about the opposite gender so they have fewer distractions. I did mention this, but the 2nd years at my main school are so distant. They don’t want to learn English. But at the girl’s middle school, it’s so easy to get them excited and raring to learn English. Hmm. All of the students at both school are good though. I haven’t had to worry about anything yet.

As for my coteachers, emphasis on the plural here, they’re all nice. I have coteachers. If you’re at an elementary school, I think you only have 1 coteacher? But I have 7!! I find that they all get confused as to when they’re supposed to teach with me. I ended up teaching one lesson today by myself! I was okay because I know Korean, but I swore to only speak English. I had to get a student who was better at English to translate for the rest of the class. After, my coteacher for that class felt so sorry that she forgot! And also, at my main school, I was still getting used to finding my way around. I went to one class and found that there were no students! Apparently the coteacher for that class decided to change classrooms and went ahead of me without telling me. She was also supposed to take me to that classroom, but she didn’t. I had to rely on another teacher to show me, so when we found the empty classroom we were both very confused.

This leads to my next topic! So the same coteacher who didn’t tell me she moved rooms is also a new teacher, like me. She’s also around my age, so rather young. I teach two classes of 2nd years with her and I don’t look forward to them. Not because of coteacher though! It’s just that I feel like the students disregard the both of us and we both have a hard time managing them. If anyone has any good classroom management tips, I’m all ears!

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Fun in Nampo-dong! And Korea Jjimjimbangs!

Last weekend, I met up with some friends from orientation at Nampo. We met in front of the Krispy Kreme inside the Gwangbok Lotte Department Store. We looked around, but didn’t buy much since you know…department stores in Korea are uber pricey. We did eat chicken and shop at the Uniqlo where I bought 2 cute bell-sleeved shirts, which would be great for work! We looked around the underground shopping area next and I bought a long sweater for like 5000 won. It’s awesome XD

We went to the Jagalchi Fish Market next. It’s Korea’s largest fish market! And, it literally had everything. Octopus, shellfish, fish- anything and everything. The first floor generally has a lot of live seafood on sale and the second floor has dried foods and restaurants. I bought some squid legs to munch on at home and then we all sat down so I could order some live octopus! Well, it’s dead now, but the legs are still moving after it’s served. This was the #1 dish I wanted to try in Korea and finally…the time had come.

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It tasted about how I thought it would. A bit slimy but crunchy, tastes like the sea and like octopus. The lady was super nice and gave us a lot at a discount! Only 20,000 won instead of the usual 30,000. She also gave us a few fish stew after my friend ordered some makkeoli and raw fish. We also got a few side dishes too. One of my friends was a bit terrified of the live octopus but she gathered up enough courage to try a small piece that stopped moving.

After that, we walked around a bit to digest before heading to the jjimjilbang, or the Korean sauna! We went to Songdo Haesoopia, which is pretty close to Nampo. You can get there by bus but we carpooled a taxi there instead.

As with any Korean spa, you take off you shoes and store them in a locker. To stay overnight we paid 12,000 won, which is a great price compared to $40 at the Spa World for 12 hours in the US. You get a uniform for the sauna and can change in the locker room. Don’t forget to take your respective elevators! Men and women have different elevators. The women’s elevators don’t stop at the men’s locker rooms an vice versa. Once you the locker room, BAM! Naked people. Everywhere. Now, if you’re Korean-American like me, you’re (well, at least me) used to this. I’ve been to a common Korean bath area before, and when I go to the gym, it’s the same. Although, I admit that at the gym it’s usually only the Asians who walk around buck naked. White people, I’ve noticed, change in the bathroom.

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Anyways, we changed into our spa outfits and I made everyone sheep ears, which is a must-do at the Korean sauna. We ordered a few drinks and snacks before trying out some of the rooms. There are a variety of rooms, such as the salt room, oxygen room, black rock room (I don’t know the actual name of this room. It was just full of small, black rocks), and more. The black rock room was my favorite. It was a nice, hot temperature and I could stay in there for a while! After trying out some rooms, we ordered jjimjilbang eggs and some shikhye (rice punch). So tasty!

After that, we tried the baths. My non-Korean friends were extremely hesitant to start, but eventually we all, well…we all got to know each other a little better if you know what i mean 😉

The baths were all saltwater baths with some herbs mixed in. You have to shower before entering, so we did. I reaaalllyy needed a nice, hot soak after a long week and this gave me exactly what I needed. There is an area that’s like a jet propulsion out of the wall, and it felt like a nice shoulder massage to me while to others it was just painful!

Forewarning: If you go to Songdo Haesoopia, take an extra towel and all of your toiletries. They do not offer free shampoo/conditioner/body wash. You also only get 2 towels. Men get unlimited which is unfair. I paid a total of 1,900 won for shampoo/conditioner/body wash. After washing up, I bought some milk before we all headed back upstairs to get some sleep.

Another forewarning: Save a spot. It’s hard to find a spot to sleep in. Luckily, we found the women’s sleeping area and grabbed a few blankets before settling down.

Last forewarning: It’s hot. Well, duh, yeah, it’s a sauna. But the sleeping area and general area are all very warm, much warmer than room temperature, and on top of that the floor is heated. I felt so hot I couldn’t get proper sleep. I think I woke up nearly every 15 minutes because I was so uncomfortably hot, not to mention that hard floors aren’t exactly luxurious sleeping material. Also, people are still talking, children still running around, and as a bonus: people snore. Loudly. So if you decide to sleep at Haesoopia, be prepared for this. At the Spa World in America, I slept like a baby. They have mats on top of the hard floors and the general area is at room temperature. Songdo Haesoopia was a disturbing realization that I liked Spa World better to sleep in even if it was pricier. The sauna and baths were better at Haesoopia though.

Overall, Songdo Haesoopia: Loved the sauna and baths, but would never sleep there again!

When we woke up the next morning, we explored the Seomyun area. We went underground and looked around after we had some street food. For lunch we had chicken again and watched Logan at the theater before parting ways.

Overall, I had a great weekend. This weekend we plan on hitting Gwangali beach, so please look forward to my next post!

1st Day of School!

So, 1st day of school! So exciting! Right? Yeah…so, I was told to take a taxi to my first day. I teach at two middle schools, my main school from Monday-Wednesday (2-3 classes per day, 2 morning conversational classes with the girl’s badminton team), the other from Thursday-Friday (5 classes per day). On Thursday, March 2nd, I went to my second middle school. It’s an all girl’s school up in the mountains. It’s rather old, but nice and quaint as it’s surrounded by greenery and you can see the Busan landscape and river below.

I didn’t do any teaching on my first day since it was just a day of assemblies and figuring out where to go. I did desk warming and started planning for classes after my initial introduction lesson.

The next day was my actual first day of teaching, which was…interesting. I co-teach with 3 different teachers at this school, which is basically one for each grade. The students were also all curious about me since they heard they’d have a “foreign teacher” and instead saw someone who looked Korean.

I started by greeting my students at the door before beginning my introductions. The students have a general understanding of directions but need extra help from my CT. My lessons revolved around introducing myself using pictures and having students make their own name tag based on my model. Here are some snippets of the highlights of my day!

These girls just crack me up sometimes. Anyways, after that I had about 10 minutes left so I used that time for them to ask me questions. Here are the many questions I received based on frequency:

  1. How old are you?
  2.  Do you have a boyfriend?
  3. Can you speak Korean?
  4. Why did you come to Korea?
  5. When did you come to Korea?
  6. Are you/your parents Korean?
  7. Tell us about your first love/kiss!
  8. How tall are you?
  9. When is your birthday?
  10. Do you have any siblings?
  11. Is your curly hair natural? (For those curious, the answer is yes)

Needless to say, I expected most of these questions hahaha. I think the only one that really surprised me is when they asked about my hair lol

I also received two nice water bottles from my vice principal! Now I’m at my desk planning my next lesson as I write this.

I went to my main middle school the following Monday. This school is within the city but on a hill. It’s not too small and the students are cute. The first year’s in particular are tiny and adorable. Hyper little pups! The second years are kind of dry and nihilistic…I almost wonder what happens to them from Year 1 to Year 2 that makes them change??

I was a bit nervous about teaching and now that I’m done with my first few days I feel a bit better. I do wish the students listened to my directions as well as they do to my CT’s directions, but I think that will change with time.

Some miscellaneous info about Korean schools: The main halls have no heating/cooling. It’s freezing in the hallways right now. The halls and classrooms are nice and warm. Also, you’ll need a pair of indoor shoes. I’ve seen people wear anything from bathroom slippers, crocs, sneakers, and even heels. I’m using a cheap 3,000 won pair of bathroom slippers and I’m a bit embarrassed by them after my CT laughed at them >_>. The lunches are buffet style and I’m relying on them for nutrients by stuffing myself with vegetables and then eating whatever is lying around my apartment for dinner (which is usually either rice or ramen). The school bell is a short song. I was a bit taken back by this because I’m too used to the boring monotone bells in America. There are always snacks and free coffee, which I indulge myself in as well. My school has no smartboards, just TV screens and projectors.

So yeah, more info about school life coming later!!

 

Meeting Your Co-Teacher! Aaaand Living Alone.

When you’re picked up by your CT, there are a variety of things that can happen. They can either take you to your apartment, to the shopping center, to the immigration office, or they can take you to your school to meet your principal and vice principal. In my case, almost all of the above!

First, we dropped off my luggage at my apartment, which is a tiny one-room apartment. There’s a small bathroom/shower near the entryway. Cross the door and you enter my living space! There’s a small kitchen area, a small dining area, and then my bed/desk area. I have no patio or anything. Just literally one room and a bathroom. It’s small and cramped but I think I’ll live 😉

I was then taken to meet my principal and vice principal. I met the vice principal and did a 90 degree bow while saying, “안녕하새요, 만나서 반갑습니다” which just literally translates to, “Hello, nice to meet you” in a very formal manner. He was shocked that I could speak Korean haha. All of the teachers were, actually. They said it was comfortable since they wouldn’t be at a loss for words with me. Then I met the principal. My heart skipped a beat (many beats probably) when she said in Korean, “Where is the foreigner? Why is the native English teacher a Korean person?” My CT then had to explain in depth how I was born in the US but my parents were Korean which is why I could understand Korean, and whatnot. But seriously, this was the worst case scenario I imagined and it was taking place right in front of my eyes. My principal was wary of me already because I looked too “Korean” to be a native English teacher (more about this in a separate post) even though I’m literally licensed (with a Master’s, even!) to teach Secondary English. I’ve mentioned this in another post before. So, for a minute I thought she’d send me away and ask for another teacher, but then she said a long speech about how I should enjoy life, and how life is about its ups and downs, and that teaching at this middle school will be extremely difficult but that I should remember it as a good experience. Good talk. >_>

After that we went shopping since apart from furniture, my apartment had nothing else in it. I bought blankets, pots, utensils, and a kettle. I parted ways with my CT before going shopping again on my own for some more things I needed. I basically have to buy EVERYTHING you could possibly need to live alone, and it’s whittling away at what little funds I have left. I thought we were supposed to get a 300,000 won settlement allowance but when I asked my CT about it she had no idea what it was. She said she’d look into it and get back to me next week.

My CT then told me that I had to go to school again the next morning to meet the Head English teacher, so I did. I met everyone for the second time, but my cold worsened and I was pretty visibly sick. The teachers said I should go to the hospital and I was like ?????? In America I never went to the hospital except to get vaccines and stuff. Not to mention US healthcare is pretty shitty and pricey. So, I kept saying to them, “It’s ok, I can just take medicine and sleep it off!” which is what I always do when I get sick (seriously though, I’ll never understand people who go to the hospital for just a simple cold). They kept fussing over me and although it was nice to see them care about me, it also felt awkward because I didn’t want to feel like a burden to them.

After that I still had to buy stuff for my apartment. Luckily, I live near a huge traditional market as well as a young life shopping district. I’ll detail my findings in another post!

The End of Orientation and the Start of a New Chapter!

I really planned on writing a lot sooner, but I’ve been extremely busy with moving into my new apartment and starting to teach at school.

So, after the field trip is just 2 more full days of classes all day. In my spare time I met up with my group members to fill out our lesson plan. The last full day of orientation was just our lesson demonstration. Heads up: In practice, your lesson demo may meet the 15 minute requirement, but once you actually give it and do activities with your class, it takes a lot longer. Our group ended up not being able to do all of the activities we had planned.

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We met with our MOE/POE afterwards and finally found out out placements! I was placed at two middle schools: Gu Nam Middle School and Yang Deok Girl’s Middle School. Even though I dread teaching middle school, this is actually a boon for me. My license is in Secondary English Education so this experience will definitely help me out when I return home.

After that was the closing ceremony, which included a dance and song from the KPop class. My friend was in it so I made cute signs for her! She was really happy so I was happy too. After that was the closing dinner, which was generally the same stuff from the opening dinner. And again, I stuffed myself silly. We joked around that EPIK was feeding us like crazy since once we leave orientation we’ll likely survive off of cup noodles every day! Afterwards, I went out with my friends again that night for some noraebang we had a ton of fun. I sang lots of KPop and Disney songs and I really wish that curfew on the last night was either extended or dropped entirely.

The next day was the day we would meet our co-teachers! You actually have a lot of time to pack if you don’t leave it to the last minute. I finished packing about two nights before the end of orientation and headed down to the dorm lobby before 8:30 to beat the rush of people trying to use the elevator. I checked out and when it hit about 9:15, I took what luggage I had to the bus stop area before going to pick up the rest of my luggage. I recommend doing this instead of taking all your luggage at once because it’s hard to carry them around campus.

The cars picking up people in Busan started lining up around 9:45 and people started leaving. My CT came around 10:15 and, if you guys remember, I have 3 big suitcases, 1 backpack, and 1 carry-on. I was hoping my CT came in a big car. Some people had CTs come in a taxi and even by bus! Be prepared for this type of situation! My CT came in a standard 4-door car- not big, not too small. But she came with her husband. We were somehow able to stuff all my things in, and off we go! The rest of my story will be in a separate post~

Orientation Cont’d! And Field Trip Time!

I’ll discuss days 3-4 of orientation in this post, which includes lots of classes and of course, a field trip to Haeundae beach and the UNMCK.

Day 3 was just filled with straight up lectures ranging from TEFL in the elementary classroom, storytelling, the history of Hangul, and cooperative learning. They were all very informative and helped reinforce the teaching skills I learned in grad school. It was also rainy all day and downright gloomy. I didn’t go out that night because I was too tired and wanted to update this blog. I did, however, explore the convenience store in the basement level of the dorm and bought myself some snacks for the bus tomorrow as well as a travel card and umbrella.

Now on to the exciting topic: the field trip!!!!

Our first stop was the APEC House, which is where the G20 summit meeting was held. After that was Haeundae beach. Luckily, the weather was bright and sunny and the beach view was absolutely stunning. We had about 1.5 hours of free time so a couple of friends and I decided to try and go shopping. We couldn’t find anything for a while but finally stumbled upon a nice little shopping street. We went inside a Daiso (Like a Dollar Tree) and splurged (well, at least I did!) on some cute stuff.

After that was lunch at BEXCO. I had gomtang/곰탕 and it was delicious. I wiped my bowls clean!

We went to the UNMCK (United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Korea) afterwards. We watched a short video and were allowed to roam the grounds as we pleased. There was a guided tour a bit later, but it was optional so my friends and I decided to just wait near the area where we watched the video. But I do have a small warning for you guys here: Be polite. I get that everyone is excited that they’re in Korea and with a group of new friends, but this is a cemetery. Don’t speak/laugh loudly in a disrespectful manner. Also, my friend told me that two girls who sat next to her during the video were all like, “OMG Can we like, not watch this?” …..Seriously? Why are you even here? This is not your country. This is Korea. You know, the place you’re going to live in for the next year or so? Maybe you should, I dunno, take the time to honor its history and culture? But like seriously? WHY. ARE. YOU. HERE. If you want to come to Korea to look around, come during your vacation. EPIK is meant for people who go to Korea to work. Not play. Get it straight.

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Once we got back to BUFS, we had free time for the rest of the day. It’s technically called, “networking” but it’s actually just free time. My friends and I headed to the Busan University area by subway and did some shopping, which was uber fun. We ate a lot of street food, such as oden and spicy rice cakes/떡뽁기. I then bought some essentials like shampoo/conditioner and also some cosmetics from Etude House. We took a taxi back and I ended up leaving my bag of Etude House goods in the taxi T-T Worth about $50 and I’ll never see them again sigh. So another warning! There is a driver profile in the taxi. Take a pic or memo of it so that if something like this happens, you’re prepared. One of my friends also left her name tag and room key (which costs 50,000 won to replace!) in a shop! Luckily, the shop owner called EPIK since there were phone numbers on the back of the name tag. We went out the next day during lunch to retrieve it, thank goodness! So lesson of the day: Don’t be an ignorant jerk in Korea, but do remember to keep your belongings with you! And have fun! You’re mainly here to work, but enjoy it. Just not, you know, in a bad way.

Being a Korean American in Korea

This has been a topic that’s long been on my mind, even before I came to Korea, so here I go…

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In America, Korean-Americans are a minority. I never feel that I 100% belong there because of the many micro-aggressions and other acts of racism I experience every now and then. But, what about Korea? Do I belong here? Unfortunately, even here the answer is no. If anything, I feel like a complete foreigner here sometimes.

You’d think that because I look like a “typical” Korean everyone would treat me like another Korean citizen. But, it’s kind of like a double-edged sword. For one, people can tell that I’m from America, that I’m a Korean-American. It’s just like how when I was in America, I could easily pick out who the Korean-Koreans were. Because of that, everyone here expects me to know all the social rules. But I don’t.

What exactly am I supposed to say to my elders? I know I have to bow 90 degrees, but is that every time to everyone? And then when I don’t know, they criticize me for not knowing. Now, if you were a GET who isn’t Korean and didn’t know the rules, they would be kind and understanding since obviously you don’t know. But since I “look like a Korean” they automatically expect me to know everything they do. But I don’t.

Also, I’ll mention this in another post, but because I look “Korean” many think I don’t speak English well. This is even the case sometimes in America. People in America would always ask me, “Where are you from?” When I replied, “Virginia” they would be like, “No, like, where are you really from?” And I would just be completely flabbergasted. Sometimes people are even surprised that I can speak English in America. Even though, you know, I majored in it? I even have a Master’s in Secondary English Education! Just because I’m not white doesn’t mean I can’t speak English, or that I don’t belong in the US.

And then, in Korea, my principal asks my co-teacher, “Where is the foreigner? Why is the native English teacher a Korean person?” And my heart just drops. I mean, in technicality, I am the foreigner. I came to Korea on a US passport for that very reason. I mean, does my English ability just seem like a zero to everyone? Because I look Korean? Even though I have a BA and M.Ed? Just because I can speak both Korean and English does not mean my abilities are any less for it. Just because I look Korean doesn’t mean my qualifications are invalid because of it. Just because I am a Korean-American doesn’t mean I don’t have a place where I belong.

People assume what I can or can’t do because I’m a Korean-American. And this happens both in the US and in Korea. They assume we don’t belong with them. It breaks my heart that many people just can’t seem to understand or accept others like me. But, we Korean-Americans, and even those of other minorities who feel the same way in their respective countries, we all have a place where we belong. It’s wherever we choose to be, whether it’s in America, or in Korea. We can choose to belong in either one or in both, one foot in America, the other foot in another. We can see the best of both worlds no matter what we look like. And no one can take that away from us.

Applying for Your Alien Registration Card on an F4 Visa

Hey Guys!

I applied for my ARC in Korea a few days ago and I thought I’d let you guys know how it went. It’s actually pretty easy! Now, I came to Korea on an F4 visa so for those with an E2, read this post.

First off, you have to go to the Busan Immigration Office, or just an Immigration Office in your district. For those in Busan, I recommend reading this post for directions. My CT made an appointment beforehand so I was able to skip a lot of the waiting process. If not, be prepared to wait a while! I had to take with me:

  1. Passport
  2. 2 Passport photos
  3. 30000 won + 4000 for delivery to my apartment. Pay for this at the bank inside the office. They’ll give you a receipt which you then give to the teller.
  4. Completed application form (can be found at the office)
  5. 기본증면서 (Gi-Bon-Jeung-Myun-Seo) &가족증면 서(Ga-Jok-Jeung-Myun-Seo) (See this post for details on these two)

This process is a lot easier if you order a few copies of the documents in #5 while you’re in America. The documents are in Korean and English, but you may want your CT to watch over you as you fill it out because it can be confusing.

Once you submit everything, you should have your ARC in 7-10 business days!

If you have any other questions, please comment below! 😉

Women in Korea- Gender Discrimination?

So…I want to touch upon a rather sensitive topic: women in Korea. Admittedly, there are many things I want to discuss such as discrimination, sexual harassment, and more, so please bear with me ranting about something I believe strongly in…

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I want to talk about this because in my Advanced Korean class today at orientation, we had to discuss a few topics, in Korean of course, and one of them was about how Busan recently implemented a women-only subway car. Another Korean-American girl spoke up first, saying how she didn’t understand why only women had a subway car reserved specifically for them and that she thought that if women had one, there must be one for men too because otherwise it’d be “gender discrimination.” I honestly couldn’t help but to roll my eyes at this. I had so much I wanted to say but I couldn’t express myself in Korean that well so the teacher gave me permission to speak in English. I had so many thoughts because what she said really set me off and therefore I could barely say everything I wanted to. I wish I could have said more and I regret not having the confidence to speak my full mind in front of the class. As such, I’ve decided to write this post…

Before I begin, I highly recommend reading this article. It’ll give a brief overview of gender equality in Korea. Now, please understand that it’s not like Korea is filled with misogynistic values. There are many people in Korea who believe in gender equality and it has made numerable accomplishments in moving forward since a long time ago, but what I’m talking about is based around what I’ve read/heard about and experienced. So, I’ll discuss a bit about Korea’s gender inequality for a bit before discussing the women-only subway car.

Basically, Korea is still centered around old traditions in which women are expected to take care of all household duties and to bear sons. I can’t even begin to tell you how irked I would sometimes get when my dad, after finishing his meal, would just leave without even taking his plate to the sink. It’s like what, 5 feet away from his seat? But he doesn’t do anything because he’s a man and we women are expected to clean everything up.

Women are also expected to look “beautiful” but are judged as being vain when they show any interest or attempt to improve their looks. I would go a lot further into this but then this rambling would become a full discourse…

BUT, women nowadays are more educated than they were compared to Korea from like 100 years ago and Korea even elected its first female president, Park Geun-Hye (who is  however currently facing impeachment). But, there are very few women in higher seats of power and women still face many issues such as a pay gap and more.

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Also, even though Korea is regarded as a safe country with very little violence, there are still many cases of women being beaten, raped, and assaulted. Oftentimes women in these cases will have no ally and many people online will blame the victim, saying they were wearing skimpy clothing or that their actions have brought shame to their town/school, which just sets my skin on fire. Many women have reported being harassed on rush hour trains, such as men using cameras to take pictures up women’s skirts or copping a feel on super crowded trains. In response, Korea decided to test run the women-only subway cars during rush hour, which leads to what I really wanted to talk about today.

This concept was actually tried in Seoul before Busan and was meant to provide women (especially those who are pregnant or have young children) with a safe place to obtain a means of accessible transportation, but it was met with mixed reviews. Some women felt it was necessary and others said it was discriminating against men (rolling my eyes rn). I however, believe that these subway cars are absolutely necessary in areas with severe rush hour crowding, and maybe even in remote areas.

The main criticism about the women-only subway cars, as I stated before, is that they discriminate against men. They probably think, “If women can have a car all to themselves, men should have one too!” Oh, I’m sorry, let me play the world’s tiniest violin for you boohoo. Get real. It’s not that men don’t face sexual harassment either, but it’s just that women are more highly targeted and need a safe haven. It is specifically women who are looked upon condescendingly and are attacked simply because they are women, which is why men don’t need their own little car specifically because it would then only serve to cater to their sense of male superiority and other misogynistic tendencies.

Personally, I’ve met with many, many weird men approaching me on the subway back in the States and was even followed once. Many of my friends have said they’ve experienced similar events. Therefore, having a women-only car would make many more women feel safer. It’s not to say that this is a fix to the problem that is sexual harassment caused by male superiority. It’s simply a temporary band-aid until we can slowly convince others about the importance and necessity of gender equality. We need to teach society to not tell girls not to go out at night because it’s dangerous, but instead tell people, namely men, not to rape/assault others. It should be a given that we as humans teach and learn that hurting others is not okay in any form.

So yeah…I had a lot to say. I was actually surprised that the majority of people in my class were nodding and agreeing with what the other girl said. I almost thought I was crazy for my opinions but I was like NO. I need to get my opinion out there. Also, shoutout to my BFF and women studies pro Megumi-chan for her second opinion in all this <3.

Anyways, I promise to write about something a bit more light-hearted and relevant to EPIK next. Please do write in the comments what your thoughts are about women in Korea because I will gladly participate in some civil conversation regarding this topic 🙂

Official Start of Orientation

So, Day 1 of orientation will be hectic…well let me rephrase: every day of orientation will be hectic. You’re surrounded by people nearly 24-7 and for introverts like me, I need some me time in order to recharge my social skills, so be prepared to keep your “ON” switch powered for a while.

What I describe about the rest of orientation is just what I experience. I was in class 1 so my schedule can be different from what you may experience. Anyways, I was pleasantly surprised to wake up and find that breakfast was a western meal. There were eggs, potatoes, and even pancakes! After breakfast was class time, where I met the rest of the people in my group. We had introductions, a brief overview of the program, a very short Korean quiz to determine our placement in our Survival Korean class, and then a campus tour.

After that was lunch and then the welcoming ceremony at Mano Hall. We got to see some of our coordinators (well, I did) speak and see the officials of EPIK. After that was a Tae Kwon Do demonstration, which was absolutely stellar. It consisted of mostly a group of men breaking boards and some fruit with their kicks but it almost seemed like they could pull off the impossible. It even felt extra immersive at times because splinters of the board and fruit would fly about and even reach the audience!

After that was a lecture on Korean history. Well, Korea has a history of well over 5000 years so the lecturer had to squeeze what he could into less than 2 hours. It was interesting to hear and I learned a few things that even I wasn’t aware of, such as the fact that the first Korean to win an Olympic medal won it during the Japanese occupation. You’ll hear more about this from the lecturer 😉

 

After that was the welcoming dinner. Word of forewarning: don’t take too much food from the start of the line. There are so many delicious dishes and you’ll want to try a bit of everything, so make sure not to take too much like I did! I still ate everything but I was stuffed! Some interesting dishes they had included raw beef/yukhoe/육회, but they also had dishes I was familiar with, such as fried shrimp/새우튀김, sushi, and more.  After that I went out for some bingsoo, which is Korean shaved ice and is the yummiest dessert in existence. I shared the strawberry one and we devoured it all in like 5 minutes haha. I know I said I ate a lot of dinner, but I have a separate stomach for dessert 😛

Day 2 consisted of the health exam. Since I was in class 1, we went first so I was glad I didn’t really have to wait. You just get your height, weight, vision, blood pressure, hearing, blood, urine, and chest x-ray tested. You’re not allowed to eat/drink the night before the exam so be prepared to be hungry. You do get a snack and water once it’s over, but a lot of people, including me, were completely famished. Also, don’t forget to take the 50000 won to the exam or you’ll have to wait in line all over again!

We had nothing else planned for the morning so I slept until lunchtime. It was nice <3. After that were a few more lectures, one being about rules/regulations and the other about TEFL in Korea. The rules/regulations lecture was more a briefing about the logistical aspect of EPIK, like what your pension pay is, information about the residency form, and more. I found it extremely helpful and had almost all of the questions I had answered. The TEFL in Korea lecture was a brief overview about what it’s like to teach TEFL in Korea. It concluded with the lecturer giving a lesson entirely in Korean to give us a feel of what it’s like to be a Korean student learning a language they cannot completely comprehend. I, however, understood it all and ended up feeling a little bored.

After that was dinner and then Survival Korean class. I was placed in the advanced room in which we’re not allowed to use English. We spent the time introducing ourselves by drawing our hobbies, age, where we’re from, etc on a sheet of paper and presenting it to the class…all in Korean, of course :D. I had a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to my next class.

I went out again that night for some more bingsoo. I had coffee bingsoo (pics above!) this time and I think I liked it better than the strawberry one!

Information of the next few days of orientation will be up soon!