epikfall2013

My EPIK interview

So I had my interview and well yeah…I got the date wrong. -.- 

I was out of town that Tuesday, June 4, with a friend. We were about 3 hours from home. I was getting home around 10:40pm We were in Round Rock a good 45 minutes from my home. I decided to check my email again and re-read the email for the interview. 

I have a bad thing for not reading emails right. It said your interview will be on a Tuesday to you. 

Total brain fart. I checked the date to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind.  Yep It was Tuesday night about 30 minutes til my interview and I was 45 minutes away.

I looked at my friend and told her my interview was at 11:20 today. I was the one freaking out I was hoping we could make it home. She made some calls to friends in Austin which we were passing through but no one anwsered

Our final hope was just to try and make it home on time. It turned 11:50 and we were still a good 30-35 minutes away. 

I downloaded the skype app on my phone and if I had to was going to do it by that unfortunately I was not wearing a t-shirt not that professional. 

At that moment, her friend called her back. She asked if he had internet a computer, which he luckily had. He was a few exits from where we were so by 11:00 pm we were at his place.

I did not even know who this guy was. He seemed nice and the apartment complex looked very nice. He lives on the bottom floor, but the worst part is that when we were walking towards his door the we heard glass breaking followed by loud screaming and yelling from upstairs.

So there i was in his living room boxes every where and the computer situated next to the window. The yelling continued. I asked him for a button up clipped the back sat down on the chair and downloaded the skype app. 

It was 11:10 when I finished all this I made sure the camera was working and the video was good. My friend and the guy that lived there had gone outside to smoke. The person interviewing me added me as a contact a few minutes later into which I accepted and waited nervously as 6 minutes passed by. I did not have the application paper on me but I did have it on my phone and also on the laptop its self. 

The yelling upstairs stopped. I think..the roaring in my ears from sheer nervousness and unpreparedness had me really frazzled. But the interview started off well.

In all honesty when it comes time for an interview I go into a weird mode. I remember bits and pieces of the interview but not all of it. I tend to go into deep mode in which I methodically think about the answers as she is asking them. 

 I had not fully prepared for I was going to do that the next day. I had looked over some of the questions and was thinking about them but I never really wrote them down. The interview lasted around 35 minutes. My friend and the guy had walked in about 30 minutes into the interview they were very quiet and waited to talk when I was finished. 

After the interview I stood up and looked at them they gave me a thumbs up. We were joking and laughing and I felt some weight come off my shoulders.They had told me when they were outside the police had come by the upstairs apartment. If the interviewers would have known a police was not much from the apartment answering a domestic violence call they would probably be in a blowing air from a paper bag.

We said our goodbyes and I thanked him for my letting me into his house to use his computer. I still think its funny. The pool at his apartment complex was calling our names. So we took a dip and ended up getting home around 2 am. 

I thought that maybe I could have done better but not by a whole much. The fact of an interview is, for me, to be real with a person and have experiences ready to be asked. 

So with this started the waiting game. I had my email notify on my phone. EVERY email would ding and I would rush towards it hoping it was the email.

I noticed how much junk email I get so I sat down and unsubscribed from many of them. I wanted the next ding of my phone to be that one email that says I passed. 

I was a work when I got the news. I whipped out my phone quick and looked at it thinking it was another email. When I saw the Epik email I opened that and it thankfully said I passed. 

Through all that to get to my interview, I was very happy and so excited. So now was on to the next step of the process was to get the documents sent. 

My Contract Has Finally Arrived!

So, after spending yesterday evening eagerly awaiting the arrival of the FedEx guy only to be disappointed, my documents finally turned up this morning.

I now have my contract, NOA (Notice of Appointment) and some more general information such as orientation dates (Mine is the 18th August - anyone else at the same one?)

Finally Got my Placement!

Of course with all this applying late I expected to get a place in the province and not in the city. Every blog I went to all the EPIK posts on Facebook, was saying that my chances of getting Seoul was nil. One Youtuber was my only reason to try for Seoul. Smiling Seoul explained how late she was at the application process and how she ended up getting Seoul. 

 The task of deciding whether I should still stick with Seoul on the application form was a big deal. During my interview my program coordinator was very real by telling me my chances of getting Seoul this late in the application process was close to none. 

I was going to try Incheon, but it seemed to have other requirements that I was not expecting and the date I wanted everything sent would have been later and less of a chance to get it.

So I stuck it out with Seoul and June 18 everything was ready to be sent and found a position. 

During this application process I was working at an intensive, and highly emotional camp in which I help students who are at a major risk of dropping out and doing things that are even worse, gain credits toward high school.

Fast forward to the last night I’m spending with these kids, my heart heavy at the thought of them leaving, my mind hoping that by hopping on a plane to Korea, I was not running away.

I sat there with my laptop in my hand and one of the students doing my hair when I got the email. 

I had been placed.

It was exciting, I was scared too. I read the email wondering where I was going.

I got a little frustrated at the email considering it had no placement info on the email itself. 

I scrolled down to the attachments where one was labeled E-2 Visa application and another labeled Seoul-letter for successful applicant. Of course being the horrible person I am at reading emails, I just read Seoul applicant. 

Heart stopped, palms sweating. It couldn’t be true. I thought in my head it was a typo or a rejection letter followed by the other placement position. 

I Opened it up scanned the letter as fast as possible. This is what I read. 

Mind was blown. I got up mid hair in curler and walked out in awe. The girls in the room had a confused look on their faced I ran up and down the hall way of the dorm. I was excited and so happy. 

What made it better was the girls had seen what I had seen and come out to congratulate me. They did what was called a happy dance! It was more of a old grandpa dance. 

In the end of all this the one thing I realized is that I shouldn’t underestimate myself. I did what many said I couldn’t. I interviewed in a strangers house prepared only with a webcam and my mind, I applied late but yet I had the hope and it pulled through! 

I’ll be seeing you all in a few more weeks I can’t wait I’m so excited! 

And So It Begins!

I got two emails through today from EPIK - one with tracking information for my NOA (Notice of Appointment)/Contract in and one informing me that I can begin my online Pre-Orientation tasks. I have had a look at the online stuff and as of me writing this post, they are not online yet. I am hoping they appear tomorrow.

It is actually sinking in that this time in two months, I will be living in South Korea. I can’t wait.

Congratulations (I think) to everyone else currently awaiting delivery of their documents.

Epik Documents

So I had mostly all of my documents except for my apostilled CRC. 

In other news, I had a full time job 8-5, a lost debit card, and a part time job from 7pm-11pm. 

 First of all I ended up realizing that hey, I don’t think I put that form in for the apostille. I wondered about it for a good 2 weeks. A week ago I realized that I in fact did not put the form for which country to apostille it to. Well after two days of calling at several different times someone finally answered and said my CRC was already apostilled. I asked him what country they put down. He said that usually they know which country to apostille it for. That Wednesday June 11, I got my CRC back. The apostille was for the USA which I knew I wasn’t going to change it now that it was already on there. 

So I gathered all my documents and between my first and second job a small 30 minute break I ended up heading to the FedEx to copy and print a few more pages.

NEVER go to print there, or copy for that matter. It was .50 per page in black and white I spent a good $14 on printing and copying. I didn’t have time to look over all of the documents so I told my sister and made an extensive list of all the things that are needed with detailed instructions to check that everything was where it should be.

They sent if off around 8pm with a guaranteed delivery date for Friday the 14th. It was a good $95 for the copying, printing, and shipping. She had received them on June 17th. The next day she sent me an email saying everything looked great. Except for one thing…I forgot to sign the copy application on page 5! I was livid. She followed up saying that I need to scan the form which will be used as a replacement until she gets my other form. I was so thankful for that. 

So now thanks to my full time job I’m still trying to figure out how to send it without relying on someone else. I don’t want someone else to be responsible, but the options are getting smaller and the dates are getting closer hopefully I get my NOA and have everything set. 

Got an interview!

So after patiently waiting about a week (lol) I got an interview! I’m scheduled for June 5, at 11:20 pm, my time! I really hope that this pulls through!

The only problem with that is I get out of work at 11 pm. I want to have a few hours to mentally prepare and look professional. So I’m hoping that I can switch with someone but that might not be an option. But otherwise I’m looking and seeing which questions I might be asked hopefully I don’t stutter or do something embarrassing!

My paper work is coming along nicely know all I need is for my CRC to come back apostilled make a copy of that and then have my photos printed and I’m done with the pre-paperwork! 

Packed and ready to go! Well almost...

So excited 4 more days til I get on that place to Korea! Visa in, money exchanged through my bank, all I need is to finish pre-orientation -.-. Due to the fact my computer was unable to be prepared trips to the library have become a daily occurrence.

So excited about getting out of this 104 everyday heat (110 due to humidity) 88 degrees seems really exciting and cool. Anything to get out of this hot and humid temperature 

Anyways hope everyone is doing well and for those coming in the fall to teach God much!

Packing for Korea

Okay so I have to be out of my apartment July 31st which means I’ll be packing boxes another stuff so I figured I can pack my suitcases already. Having an organized system will really help if someone if an emergency should arise, you can be prepared.

So I divided each suitcase into categories, orientation, everyday, and winter/other.
Its also a good idea to split some things just in case a luggage gets lost so no worries because half was packed in the other luggage
I also plan to bring a small backpack.

The key that I have found to work great is rolling clothing.
I have tried space bags but they just don’t last and it doesn’t really help all that much.
Packing cubes are a great idea the only downfall to that is the cost.
In every pair of shoes or available gaps I put socks and other undergarments.
And lastly buy a luggage scale I know if your trying to save its a waste but I say that it might save when you have to pay a overweight bag charge and also you will be traveling either to a different country or back home so thats 2 uses alone.

Things I recommend bringing other than the norm:
a duffel bag packed in a suitcase. This would have been great to have when traveling for those small 2-4 day trips where things are too much for a backpack but not enough for a carryon
A smartphone/ ipodtouch/ tablet/ iPad. These will still usually connect on WiFi so if in a pickle find WiFi search bus routes, taxis, maybe a foreign language app that translates.
Before you leave the US. Download Google talk. I had free calling to my parents when I studied abroad. Calling to us is free even from another country so I highly recommend getting this.
Laundry detergent
So you don’t know how long it will be until you get to go shopping or if your sensitive if you will find a safe detergent. I recommend at least a travel bottle I got mine at 7/11.
Okay on to my suitcases.

My carry on.
It will hold my clothing that I really don’t want to lose and for the days of orientation. All the essentials just in case my luggage gets lost
It will include all the things I will need for oreintation so I won’t have to worry about it until I get settled in. Things from my second luggage will be put into this one later on such as my moisturizer, my straightener, toothbrush, travel toothpaste, comb, deodorant and a soap bar.
It will also hold some of my shoes considering I have maybe 8-10 pairs I have to bring. Probably my tennis shoes, my slippers for school, and a pair of flats.

My second suitcase.
I plan on using that one for the clothing I currently use. Since it’s full blown summer in Texas with 95+ weather every day there is really no need for sweaters. So I plan on using that suitcase for that gap between having to move until my departure date on the 17th. My other walking shoes, maybe some heels will go in here. My main toiletries such as hair spray, normal size toothpaste, more deodorant, another soap bar, my full size shampoo/ conditioner, Loofah.

The third suitcase.
Okay so this is for the winter clothing, going out wear and the  misc. Ive hopefully planned enough for this suitcase as it is the biggest one.. the rest of my shoes will go in here and the rest of my toiletries. I have my gifts in this suitcase packed within my clothing. Also the teaching materials in this suitcase.. my misc items such as purses, things from home to decorate, costume jewelry. A few hangers for those easily wrinkled clothing.

My backpack.
This one is for electronics and valuables.
I plan on putting my laptop, kindle, phone and my travel documents in this onealso snacks for the trip. I plan on munching on some hot fries all sad because it might be the last bag I have for a while…. while reading on my kindle the game of thrones! By having a backpack you know where your valuables always are, on your back. During the flight it’s good to put it next to your feet. Have it on at all other times.

Have fun packing!

Out into the wide world...

Just a short post to say orientation ends tomorrow. I am genuinely sad to sad goodbye to the people who, for the last 9 days, have been my entire world. I’ve learnt with them, taken medical tests, laughed and embarrassed myself. But most importantly, I have had a HUGE amount of fun. I sincerely hope I can remain in touch with them all over the next year.

I will probably miss seeing a core group of people a bit more than others though. So David, Danny, Andrew, Taysia - make sure you come visit me! And thanks to you all for a great 9 days. You guys genuinely made it seem more like a holiday than learning and effort. You also made it a lot easier to move my whole life across the world. I can say that I have not felt sad at any point this week, even though I know I won’t see my family for a year at least.

Lastly, I want to thank Amy and Julie my amazing class teachers. They made everyday awesome, were always running around to help us, gave us water and food during class and were more friends than teachers. Also, Amy had to put up with my attempts to butcher the Korean language for three nights. So well done on that.

I don’t know if anyone I talk about in this (either by name or just suggestion) will ever read it but if you do - you are all amazing people and I am glad to have met you!

An Interview With(out) A Vampire!

I am going to start this post with an apology for the fact it has taken me over a week to do my second post. I had planned to do this early last week but instead spent it fairly stressed organising a birthday party for the NHS. I am also aware how much that sounds like an excuse. But it isn’t. Honest!

So I left my last post promising to talk about my interview with EPIK. I am also going to dedicate this post to my Mum’s boyfriend, who I know has been on the edge of his seat with excitement waiting for me to post it. So here Tony. You finally get to read all about this thrilling tale, completely devoid of action or adventure. Enjoy!

This will be him when he sees I have posted again!

As is said last time, my interview was scheduled for the 15th April at 3:00pm KST. Something for any future applicants who have had the misfortune to stumble upon my blog – all interviews will be arranged in KST. It is up to you to correctly convert the it to your own time zone. Simple, I hear you say! I thought so too, until I realised that I was ready an hour early for my interview. But more on that later.

I spent much of the 5 days before my interview doing some research on possible questions, Korean culture and things of that nature. I poured over my application until I pretty much knew it by heart. I felt like I could not have done much more to prepare, if anything at all. And yet, I was still extremely nervous in the days running up to my interview. But finally, interview day rolled around and I was filled with a mixture of relief…and more nerves!

My interview was scheduled for 3pm KST, so I looked up the time difference on the internet and saw it was nine hours. Brilliant, I thought and promptly set my alarm for 4:30am to make sure I was up and ready. The next morning I dragged myself out of bed, got up and dressed in a suit and tie and made sure I had all my application documents to hand. I started up my Skype. 6am came…and passed. At this point, I passed the point of normal panic and was approaching the point of hysterical panic when I decided to double check I had my timing right – what if I had miscalculated and missed it!?

I tried not to panic…

I had miscalculated – but was an hour early. I hadn’t taken into account British Summer Time, meaning that the UK was only 8 hours behind, not 9. So, once again cursing my own stupidity, I waited an agonising hour for the Skype call to come. Once 7am hit, my co-ordinator signed in and we began the call. After a few technical issues (my camera was messing about), the interview was off. I can’t remember all the questions I was asked but here are a few subjects that I remember coming up –

1.    Korean culture and how it differed from my own

2.    Classroom management techniques

3.    Teaching experience

4.    General questions about my application

5.    Specific questions about my teaching plan (which my co-ordinator was very impressed with)

6.    Specific questions about my personal essay

7.    Questions relating to possible difficulties with co-teachers.

This last one really threw me in my interview – I had not seen it come up anywhere in my research. But still, I answered to the best of my ability and was obviously successful as I passed my interview. I don’t remember much about what I said (I think I was running on pure adrenaline at that point) but I do remember being told it was good I didn’t mention going over their heads, so don’t do that!

Well, the interview lasted about an hour (or so) and once it was done. Three days later, I found out that I had passed my interview and was instructed to start preparing my documents to send out. I already had most of them, but was waiting on a few bits to arrive still. But this post is long enough, so I will cover sending documents in another post to avoid boring you all too much!

No interview yet but still gathering papers, postage cost, notarization, and apostilles

I applied more than a week ago but in light that I have applied very late I am gathering my papers as quick as possible, just in case I get an interview and am accepted. And if I am not I will have my paper work for the next term to apply for. I am also very cost wary as I am self supporting and currently working a Wal-Mart barely making ends meet.  

My CRC was sent out for apostille the day I applied so I am waiting on that currently.

I could finally pick up my diploma on the 29th.  It was my only day off in a week so I knew if I didn’t get it done today who knows when I can do it? So I had a copy made at the FedEx for about $1.50 and asked them about a quote on shipping he said it would be about $80. Geez that was alot!

After I headed to the bank to take money out. The lines were long and I needed to find someone who notarizes documents. I got out of line and was about to leave, but had asked the guest services at my bank (Bank of America) who does notarizations. She said that they do them at the bank. To my surprise, I asked the cost and she said it was free to account holders. Score! 20 minutes later my copy was notorized and now I needed an apostille 

So I got that done and asked a friend to take me to Austin.(20 minute drive) I figured I should just do a walk in as it would be done right then.But before that I figured I should get my transcripts just in case they ask for one. I got two just in case and paid a total of $10 for them.

We finally headed to Austin. After a failed attempt to locate the building a kind man directed us to the correct one.  It was a few blocks away. The office was located in the basement of the building. The office  was small with about 6 chairs in total. I waited maybe 8 minutes as there where 3 people in front of me. I showed her the document as well as the original along with a payment of $15 and 5 minutes later it was apostilled and I was out the door. It was a fast process, the problems with apostille are when they are sent through the good old snail mail. (ugh) 

Speaking of postage the cheapest option I have found is the USPS. I looked around and figured with all the paperwork it would possibly be around a pound. The USPS charges at the post office for first class international around $12 but the delivery time varies as I was not able to get it online. The second cheapest option is USPS (agian) was priority mail international which would take 6-10 business days for 23.95. Express Mail was 44.95 for 3-5 business days and the most expensive but fastest option was with Fed Ex for guaranteed delivery 2 business days for 80 dollars and 3 business days for around $70 dollars. 

I still need to print out the Applications, get my photos, and make copies of everything. And anything else I might need if get and pass my interview. Hopefully I get an interview! Wish me luck!

 

Did my application, finally!

So the whirlwind of school is over and now come the part in which I procrastinated for a while. 

I started back in November, had to get some paperwork out of the way for that criminal record check to come through. I waited until February to begin calling the people to check the status of the paperwork. To no avail they said that maybe they wouldn’t be able to have it done before march.

I had planned to apply march 1st but I stalled because of the paper work.A week had passed and I figured I had to send off for my CRC or it wouldn’t come back on time so I sent if on the 8th of March. After finding out I had to do another application I filled that one out (mid March) and started asking for my letters of recommendation.

The first letter of recommendation, I had asked mid March. The second, I asked for at the end of March.  After a struggle to get a hold of the first letter he finally wrote it after 4 weeks the first two weeks his schedule was full and then I had to wait two weeks to get the recommendation. the second I had asked a supervisor of Wal-Mart figuring that she could write it in a decent amount of time a week passed I asked she said it would be done Friday. She was not there so I asked the next 3 weeks nothing she blew it off. I asked 2 more supervisors and they declined saying that they did not know what to write. I finally asked my department manager and he had agreed and had it ready in less than a week. (I should have asked him in the first place!) by then it was mid April.

My CRC was still not back and my finals started from Mid-April to the begining of May. I stayed focused on that trying to do the best I could for the end of the semester. I was done by the tenth of May.

One last challenge was the lesson plan. I had never done one and had almost no clue on how to begin. It took me a few days of research an all nighter of work to complete it. I worried that I wouldn’t have it right or that the lesson plan was wrong. I completed it hoping for the best. 

Back to the letters of recommendation, everything was ready to go. Except for those they needed to be scanned and attached. The problem was the scanning since school was over I couldn’t use that method, and my work schedule, was not helpful at letting me go to the library. I had my sister go to find out that the library’s computers were down. Finally on the 20th of May I had a day off and I scanned those letters attached them and finally sent them off. I was so excited. I spend the day at the pool and my sister check the mail and I had finally got my CRC back after 2 months! 

It was 8:30 when I checked my email. the EPIK people had contacted me saying that the application was wrong some of the old application was copied onto the new one. I re-did my application as fast as possible and had it re emailed to them by 10:30. After that I sent my CRC to the Office of Authentications in DC to get it apostilled so I’m hoping  by the time I hopefully get an interview all the documents will be ready to go if they accept me! 

Now I am  waiting for them to email me and say I have an interview. I hope so!