Friday, October 1, 2010

EPIK Orientation in Seoul

Ok so in Korea, the government sponsored movement to teach English in public schools is called EPIK (English Program In Korea). They hire foreign English teachers to teach all over Korea. We have to do a mandatory 60 hours of training so orientation covers about 30 of those. The main orientation is in August so ours was for the late comers and the people who had already been here for monthssss but hadn't been to orientation yet. Luckily a great deal of Daegu people were there!

Orientation: Day 1
The Saturday after I arrived (Sept 25th), I boarded the KTX (Korean bullet train) in Daegu and an hour and 45 minutes later arrived in Seoul. Our orientation was located on a campus so we got to stay in the dorms... hello flashbacks of college.
Receiving welcoming gifts and a health check.
The first day was all about settling in, so a bunch of us decided to go out that night. First, we went to a place called Beer Castle... Can't go wrong with a place named that. In most places, you have to order some food/appetizers with your alcohol since the alcohol is so cheap. We picked #2, hoping that it would be something good considering we couldn't read Korean. We ended up ordering 3 orders of squid jerky (15,000 won or $13). Mmmmm... not. Some people liked it but I didn't enjoy the fishy taste and it is really hard to chew and swallow fast considering its texture. Then we decided on the cheaper route and bought some soju (Koreans love it but I see of it more like very cheap vodka/rubbing alcohol) at a convenience store: 1,000 won for a soda sized bottle). We walked to a park near the university were a band was playing live music. Sat on a street corner, got to know each other, played some Korean drinking games, and drank soju. NO OPEN CONTAINER LAWS IN KOREA! It's like Vegas!

Orientation: Day 2
We got to see a Samulnori performance by some boys from a local high school. Traditional drum performance with crazy intense energy.

We then got to go on a field trip to Gyeongbokgung Palace- a palace destroyed by the Japanese government over 100 years ago and partially rebuilt- and the folk museum right next to it.

Nothing screams out "foreigner"
more than 100 people walking around
 in matching t-shirts and name tags
After, we headed to a Nanta show- a drum and cooking show that is kind of a mix between the blue man group and stomp. According to the English version of the pamphlet, the synopsis is "An excellent cook, but the unmanly HEAD CHEF, a very sexy, masculine SEXY GUY, and the powerful, sassy, the only woman cook, HOT SAUCE!" haha
Two EPIKers (right) picked to help out the show.
That night we decided to go out again. Went to a place called Wa Bar with expensive imported beers. Then went to a place (not sure what it's called) that advertised cheap beer. By the way, all Korean beer is cheap tasting and light... mmm. With the help of a friendly Korean customer, ordered and drank some kiwi and pineapple soju.

Orientation: Day 3
Culture and history meetings all day 9-5:30. Beginning Korean lessons 6:30-10... they were actually pretty cool because now I can kind of sound out things and learned some expressions. Written Korean was originally based off of the Chinese language but doesn't have characters like Chinese. So once you know the alphabet, you can sound everything out (but you may not necessarily know what it means).

At night we went back toward the "cheap beer" place with even more people than the night before. I decided that South Africans and Kiwis can drink and are pretty cool as well. King's cup and korean drinking games.

End of Kings cup (rules): wearing 4 guys shirts
My great British orientation roommate Alice
Orientation: Day 4
More and more lectures. Then, we were put into groups in order to make 15 minute lesson plan presentations for the next day. So, the day ended in Korean lessons and lesson planning. Met up with my college friend and old housemate Rubin for coffee because he teaches English near Seoul. So great to see a familiar face and catch up/get Korean life advice!

Orientation: Day 5
Guess what?? More lectures. At least most of the lectures weren't too boring. We then did about 3 hours of presentations and then walked over to a place called Mariscos for a farewell dinner. Buffet= amazing
A large group of us decided that our midnight curfew (yes we were adults who had a curfew) was too early on our last night in Seoul. That meant we would have to be out until 5am when the doors opened again... so to start off the night we headed to the near by "cocktail lounge" that was located on the side of the street. Remember: no open container laws. So, bags of booze it was:

"Jeck and Cok"= Jack and Coke haha
Then headed toward Itaewon (an area filled with foreigners) and walked up hooker hill (yes, hooker hill) to a little hole in the wall bar. Awesome bartenders and good old school rock playing. Then went to Hongdae, the university area. Went to a soju hut and got soju, beer, and seafood & kimchi pancakes. Headed to one more bar before heading home at 5:30 exhausted and freezing. Somehow the temperature had dropped about 20 degrees since we arrived in Seoul the first day.
Carle, Shelley, Shaun, Me, Andres, and Jaco
(only American in the bunch) 
Hole in the wall bar on hooker hill.
Made our mark on the money wall
with a spare dollar bill. Who needs
dollars in Korea anyway??
Hannes and the Soju hut with "pancakes"

Orientation: Day 5
On about 3 hours of sleep, went to the closing ceremonies. Ate lunch, said goodbye to new friends, and headed back with others on the KTX to Daegu. The Chief Officer and an English teacher offered to pick me up at the station. Seriously, the people from my school are so nice!

1 comment:

blog said...

Wow! Just read your timeline of events for your getting here and that's CRAZY! Anyhow, you're here now and I'm sure we'll meet up at some point or another. Have you have fun over there in Daegu! Be sure to hit us up if you're ever in Seoul!