From the land of the Dragon to the Hermit Kingdom

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August 20th 2012
Published: July 12th 2013
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Whilst travelling in Vietnam last year I had the pleasure of meeting and travelling briefly with a couple of American girls who positively raved about their teaching experiences in South Korea. Both of these girls were working in South Korea as part of the 'English Program in Korea', more commonly referred to as 'EPIK'.

EPIK. 1999. Teach English in Korea. Available at: .

"Clean running water? Health and safety standards? Supportive teaching environment? Pension contributions? Signs in English? Food regulations? As easy as being home? Safe? Convenient travel? No theft? Good pay? Road rules? South Korea huh, you don't say."

To be fair before living in China my brain wouldn't have even thought to add any of these to the prerequisite list of future countries to live and work in. However it would appear that time and experience are indeed some mighty fine teachers. These weren't exactly at the top of my list, but nor were they aspects of overseas living that I dismissed as easily or as quickly as before. Those Lonely Planet Guidebooks were pretty spot on about my city in China.

If you have read my previous blogs, you may have noticed that I referred to only going overseas for a year, before heading home. It would seem that after 18 months in China, I wasn't ready to go home yet. A few people questioned me about my decision to continue living overseas, mostly my very concerned family, and I'm afraid my answers weren't very clear. In fact they're still not. I'm going to take the easy way out here and say 'that's a blog for another day'.

So what's the process for applying for EPIK? I actually didn't realise until I was in Korea that it was possible to apply directly to EPIK, instead my google searches revealed 'Footprints Recruiting' to be the guys to go through, so that's who I went with.

Footprints Recruiting. 2001. Footprints Recruiting. Available at: .

The application for EPIK is akin to applying to the police force or army in Australia, without the fitness test. A lot of documentation is required, and it has to fit pretty strict parameters. As such I couldn't be more grateful to the guys at Footprints who worked with me to get everything done in time. The fact that I started my application whilst still in China meant things weren't quite as straightforward as they could have been. It also meant a lot of leg work for my friends and family back home to get documents certified, sent off, photo copied and other things done that I hadn't even heard of before (what's an apostille and how do I get one!?). A big shout out to both the team at Footprints Recruiting and to my people at home.

In retrospect it doesn't look that intense but very briefly here's what's required:

• Completed application form (x2)
• A copy of Bachelor's Diploma with Apostille attached
• Original sealed transcripts
• Criminal record check (AFP)
• Two letters of recommendation from professional or academic sources
• Copy of passport
• Copies of everything (plus the originals)

Optional documents:

• TEFL/TESOL (these two must be at lease 100+ hours) Teachers Cert.
• Apostilled copy of birth certificate (this is to keep Korean children safe - I still am not sure of the ins and outs of this)

*There's a whole lot for Korean nationals, as that didn't apply to me I didn't include it here, it's all on the website though

Once all of that is sent in, there's online preparation training, a visa to apply for, a flight to book and bags to pack. It was pretty intense because I had to not only manage this while packing up my life in China, but also during a 3 week trip home, an external university course (that was a stupid idea) and planning for my first snowy Winter in South Korea.

Alas it all worked out, and I've now (though I've back dated this) almost completed a year in the land of the rather aptly named Hermit Kingdom.


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