Teaching English in Daegu, South Korea!

Archive for the ‘EPIK’ Category

I Have the Best PenPals.

There are ups and downs about my teaching job here in Korea. Sure, I do wish that I had a little more freedom to practice things that I learned in my masters program. I want to be a better teacher but the curriculum and my coteachers don’t really allow for me try out new things and see how they work- so I don’t feel as though I am not growing as an educator : ( Needless to say, I find little successes in each day that give me hope that I am not destined to be a bad teacher for the rest of my life! haha

I have two 6th graders 정윤 and 수빈. These girls make my day when they are waiting for me in the English room after lunch to just talk. They like to use my stamp set that my wonderful sister, Colleen, bought me before coming to Korea.

Jung Yoon and my diary to each other.

The 'gift' part of Jung Yoon's diary.

We use the stickers next to our name every time we sign it.

Jung Yoon's signature with the sticker!

Our diary. : )

These girls are amazing and beautiful people. I will miss them when they go to middle school. Their next English teacher is very lucky to have them!!!


Buying Make-Up at Homeplus

Early one morning I was getting ready for school and I noticed that my mascara was in need of replacement so I thought; “I’ll head to Homeplus.” At Homeplus I went to the make isle. I was taking my time scoping out what they had and the prices attached as I started to notice that there is a woman who is looking over my shoulder. I got a little uncomfortable and turned around- saw that she was wearing a uniform- a Homeplus uniform. “Oh, she works here,” I thought. I found the mascara that I wanted but couldn’t find it anywhere. I just had the sample in my hand searching. Not a moment too soon the woman with the Homeplus uniform came and…said something in Korean and grabbed a different mascara. I just simply agreed out of convience for me- sure why not I’ll take it. She reaches into the drawers below the make up- ‘oh of course!’ Then she proceeded to grab a giant box and LOCK the mascara away in it!


Inside of the box is what I want to buy. She added in some wipes- that was nice.



Side view and the giant lock.



Bottom view.


I don’t know why I was so fascinated about this, but really I think it is a little strange. So different from running down to Rite Aid to pick up some mascara! I would have never guessed.

For those of you who don’t know what HomePlus is- I am sorry for your loss. HomePlus is like an amusement park. It is very similar to E-Mart but more giant. Go to this girls blog http://seoulsarang.blogspot.com/2009/03/homeplus.html – if you have any interest or further inquires about HomePlus. She does a whole post showcasing what you could get and honestly, how fun it is haha.

In other news, it only took the IRS from late July until now to send me my residency certificate for a total of around 70 days. My oh my. Jeff got a letter from them around the same time I got my certificate that said that he had information missing!!! It took 2 and a half months for them to tell him he had information MISSING! ahh.

*Cross your fingers that I get added to the Korean Blog List ^_^ Also, congrats to Lana for being on the list!!!! That is so cool!!!! I can remember when her and I were checking EVERY. SINGLE. BLOG. on the list to find out anything we could about teaching here 🙂


P.S.S. THANKS EPIK for pushing the date to October 31st to finish the online courses! Originally they were due by January and now I must actually work and learn “how to group students.” I went to school for this already!!! Today I learned that- “Before you come to Korea- you should try Korean food. Have you ever had Korean food before? Bibimbap is a traditional Korean food that is not spicy.” First of all, I have had bibimbap and I have had spicy bibimbap as well!!! True EPIK fashion they are making things more confusing than they need to be. Thanks EPIK,

love, shannon

“Tomorrow you should bring your hiking shoes.”

Yes, “Tomorrow you should bring your hiking shoes.” I was told this as I left school on Tuesday, for Wednesday because as a school (the staff) we were heading to Hwawangsan Mountain- about an hour outside of Daegu in a town called Changnyeong-gun, for bonding time together over hiking.http://www.san.go.kr/english/info/gyeongsang_hawangsan.jsp I love hiking, and haven’t gotten around to it so far living here so I was very excited. This day ended up being not so warm…actually cold, I of course have been so used to sweating my ass off everyday that I didn’t bring my jacket. So in the 30 minutes I had to spare before we would leave I ran home and got my jacket and returned with a few minutes to spare.

We left at about 1:30…. and got back at 8:30…so tired.

Yun and Jong Mi before boarding the bus.

My Co Teacher and I, Yun. She is so cute : )

The map of the trails. This is where there was a park ranger type person who told us where to go. Yep, he sent us on the advanced hikers trail.

Yun looking at how much we had already climbed up. Then she looks the other way and realizes that we are not close!

We needed a break. 5th grade, my co teacher and the practical course teacher.

Awesome. This part of the trek you had to cover your face and walk through grass that was taller than us.

Group photo! Not everyone, but most of the people who made it to the top. Then we ate ice cream hehe.

I made it : )

The hike itself was somewhat laughable. It wasn’t hiking to me, it was mountain climbing! You needed to hold onto to ropes and would walking on cliffs. There were a few points where I felt really uneasy about the trail and like I might fall down the mountain. At another point we were lost : ( We weren’t sure whether to go left or right so they asked me to use my loud voice to call out to the group that was about 20 minutes in front of us. They didn’t hear us though…Once we met up with everyone at the top of the mountain, naturally, there was an ice cream and coffee vendor. The main teacher who puts these events together bought everyone ice cream. We started our descend. My legs were so tired they were shaking and then OF COURSE…I trip and fall. If they all weren’t already worrying about me for some reason or another NOW they were haha. It was highly embarrassing. At the bottom we ate Bee Bim Bop- yummy. It was good even though for lunch we had bee bim bop as well. I’ll eat it anytime. The van ride home felt long. I wanted to sleep but someone wanted to watch baseball VERY loud on the TV. One of my co teacher gave me a coupon to go to a spa. I thought yes, of course! Then I remembered that they are all nude- I want to go to one of those spas but maybe not the first time with my co teachers? I don’t think we are at the right stage in our relationship to be naked around each other haha. It was such an eventful day!!!

That hike really tested me, it came at a perfect time since Jeff and I have made a plan of attack on how to be healthy. We will be exercising every night together or apart in our apartments. We are also limiting the amount of times that we go out and eat greasy or fried food. Also, no street food : ( I somehow found a way around that! I went out for kimbap with my teacher and Jong Mi and we had ddukbokki- spicy dduk.

Ddukbokki, spicy dduk and usually has fish patty in it as well. So delicious!!!

Work is going well, I only struggle with the 6th graders because their curriculum is inappropriate for them and then they misbehave. I can’t blame them- its so terrible and boring. I’m tired of listening and repeating and seeing the end result that they aren’t learning anything. Its hard to put a lot of effort into something that you know isn’t working and is just wasting time…

In other news, my blog got 90 hits the other day! This is very exciting because I thought that I only had a few people who cared what was happening in South Korea, hopefully my experiences can shine some light on what its like to be a public school teacher in South Korea.  I do have to give some credit to Jimmy from Strange Lands though- he linked my blog on his blog!! Thank you!!!

NEXT- really, I will go through our trip to Seoul!!

Sun Seng Nim

First off, my ‘air con’ smells like pee and I don’t know how to change the filter? Can I change the filter?

I have come to the realization that I am an English teacher- not a homeroom teacher anymore. Things will be different and I need to accept and adjust. Yeah, I don’t get to teach every subject anymore and get creative and go over in time and say; “we’ll do that tomorrow,” but that is okay. I am an English teacher so I will have to work on things with students such as pronunciation and introducing ‘key phrases’ in a mundane way- but you know what I am okay with it now. No matter how much I hate that text book and curriculum I am determined to try to have fun with it. Today I made up dance moves that would accompany the song we had to learn. I tried to get the students UP and MOVING with them but they were resistant for the most part…I guess they are 6th graders haha. It was great though. My co-teachers and I are getting along great, working together and talking through problems and PROBLEM SOLVING! hooray!

The students are also so wonderful. I mean in class…they are reluctant to speak…but when you catch them on the playground boy are they ready to test out ALL THE ENGLISH THEY KNOW. I had students ask me;

“Do you havea a cell pone?”

“What is your cell-a pone numba?”

Then I had a conversation with a 6th grader about how his “pone” has internet on it and he can play a game called Star 65 or something. He was asking me if I was going to teach him pronunciation in English class. In class he was not paying attention though so…haha.

I have received a couple of gifts over the past few days from students. : )

Strawberry Head handkerchief from a lovely 4th grade girl.

A pencil holder from a 4th grader.

A beautiful picture drawn by a 5th grade student : ) I called her an artist the first day I met her because she was sketching a picture of a rose and then I got this 2 weeks later : )

So I am really enjoying my life at school and making a lot of friends; Korean and non. Right now Jeff and I are planning a trip to Seoul with a group of other EPIK teachers. Franki, Alex, Jeff and I are going to share a bunkbed hotel room in Seoul for a couple nights. Christ is going to be there too!!! THEN THEN! Then Jeff and I are heading to Anyang to visit Lana!!!!!!!!!! She is finally here! So we will go explore Anyang for a night and head back to Seoul to catch our train to head back to Daegu for the weekend. Then…then…then…we go back to work : ( I am really looking forward to a long break though.

On another good note, I start Korean Survival class this Friday and starting in October Jeff and I will be learning Korean Monday’s Thursday’s and Friday’s. In no time we will have a better understanding and be communicating more with co-workers and people around us. I can’t wait to show my Principal and Vice Principal what I can do haha. I am having a hard time buying the tickets as of now but hopefully we will be smooth sailing on a BULLET TRAIN by next week

: )

Hopefully soon we will be on a KTX to Seoul!

P.S. When the humidity went away the mosquitoes got worse and I was eaten alive in my apartment yesterday!!! I smashed one this morning with my bare hands and when I opened up my hands…there was blood- MY BLOOD I’M SURE!!! “It’s a sort of revenge,” says my co.teacher. teehee

P.P.S. This is my new pet…another type of flying species that lives in my bathroom. Apparently I have to have the pips cleaned because they are born inside ::shutter::

So they are shaped like a heart...but are some sort of moth or fly. I don't really care, I just want them gone.

Almost Time to Go… “7 days….”

In 7 days I will be in JeonJu at the University ready to start Day 1 of orientation. But before I can do that I have to finish my time here. I had a Bye-Bye Party this weekend that was so much fun. Lots of friends and family came and I felt so special! Sounds corny, but it felt really good.

Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry chocolate ganache filling and cream cheese raspberry frosting. yummy!

Red Velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. Yumm!

Jeff, baby Ella and I!! Her shirt says "Someone in South Korea loves me!"

After the ByeBye Party reality set in and I told myself that I needed to look to the future some more. I got excited by looking at this: The schedule for the orientation!

Day 1 will consist of a campus tour, opening ceremony about EPIK life and a welcoming dinner!

Day 2 will have the medical check up (sad) and Korean History classes. Accompanied by Korean movies at night, but not until after Korean language classes.

Day 3 has classes about teaching and how to be a successful communicator. Again, more Korean language then movies.

Day 4– I think we go somewhere because it just says that we are going to have “Korean Cultural Experiences.” o0o lala.

Day 5 will have more about teaching, co-teaching, differentiation, lesson planning and classroom management classes. Oh wait! Korean movies at night haha.

Day 6 is a duplicate of Day5.

Day 7 has a mini lesson demonstration and meeting with supervisors and a farewell dinner before everyone leaves to their perspective place in the country.

Day 8 will consist of a closing ceremony and lunch then we will go to where we are living! ahh!!!

Now to the present- my packing.

My luggage is beginning to fill up with only one PACKMAX in it...uhoh...this is going to be rough.

To prepare myself for the language in Korea, Lana showed me this book that had a bunch of useful phrases. I can walk away with her teaching me how to say “yes” in Korean. This will help me a LOT!!! Thank you! Now…I must conquer more by finishing my pre-orientation online for EPIK. 20 lessons hooray…

Filing for the 8802: US Tax Residency

Okay. So we leave in about 20 days and I just received an email from my recruiter about the 8802 tax form for South Korea! Yikes! It takes 45 days to process (and thats good.) This process was confusing for me because taxes…yeah right. I don’t get it. So with phone calls to the IRS and visits to my grandma I was able to figure it out:

This is how I filled mine out, maybe it will help somebody out there who is having trouble sifting through the 12 pages of IRS directions.

Applicants name: Pretty straight forward- Your name.

Applicants Tax ID number: Social security number.

1. Applicants name and TAX ID number if different from above. Same as above

2. Applicants address during the calendar year for which certification is requested, including country and ZIP of postal code. Permanent Address. So for this one I had a hard time because EPIK keeps things like where you will be living a secret until you get there. So I called the IRS and told them my perdicament. They suggested that I just put down my permanent address and have whoever lives at that address (my parents) send me the documents when they come. Really what they want is somewhere to forward the 6166 documents to. (the 6166 is the residency certificate and you get that once you turn in your 8802.)

3a. Mail form 6166 to the following address. Same as above or permanent address. This was also confusing to me, but was cleared up by calling the IRS again! They said to put the address in either or and just state “same as above or below.”

3b. Appointee information: If you have an appointee- a person who is responsible for your taxes, which in my case is my grandma and she works for the IRS so her information was provided. It is not necessary to have an appointee.

4a. Applicant is: Individual and a U.S. citizen.

5. Yes. 1040. I filed a 1040.

6. No need to fill out anything if you checked “Yes” above.

7. Calendar year: 2010. The IRS said that after December 1st, we have to file another one for the year of 2011.

8. Tax period: 200912.

9. Purpose: Income tax.

10. Statement: Name, SSN, is a US resident and will continue to be throughout the current tax year.

11. Number of certifications you need. Find South Korea and next to it put a number value. You can get up to 20 and still pay $35. Beyond 20 you pay $5 extra.

12a. Total number from all columns: #

13. Amount of money due:

That is it! Make sure you sign and date it! This is how I filled mine out, it will probably differ slightly depending on who you are and how you file your taxes. If you filed them late then I think you have to attach a copy of you taxes to this form. You can pay online and fax it or mail it. Now that is submitted my family will mail it to me when I am in South Korea.

Below are some IRS sites that have a bit more of information:

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8802.pdf – The 8802 form.

http://www.irs.gov/instructions/i8802/ch02.html -Some instructions about how to fill it out.

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=122559,00.html -To understand what the 6166 really is.

$720 to Korea

Last night….we bought our tickets!!!!

PDX———————————>SAN FRANCISCO—————————————————————————————————————–(11 hours)—————————————————————————–>SEOUL—————————————(3.5 hours)——————————————>JEONJU.

The length of —- = the amount of travel time. I have been trying to keep up to date on the weather that I am about to enter into in Daegu. Look at what I found:

So I guess no one is joking when they say that it is “rainy” season in South Korea right now haha. Good thing I am from the Northwest and I am no stranger to wetness.

Jeff and I are overly excited to do this journey together. He is so excited to learn about being a teacher and I can’t wait to get my teach on. Its going to be an amazing experience : )