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New Beginnings.

I thought about what I was going to say for weeks. Holding everything off until the last possible moment. I slowly told people, hiding my excitement and eagerness. I always get nervous telling people who are important. My anxiety levels have never changed regardless of the reassurance from people around me. I had been searching for months. Looking for something that would inspire me and make me happy.

It’s hard to make yourself happy when you’re really not happy where you are. I’m extremely happy to be home, but feeling pretty stressed out by the lack of job prospects in my city. I’m not alone in this struggle, many people my age and younger (and older) are struggling. I’ve finally found something.

Through some weird coincidence I had a job interview on my birthday. I figured I was done for the day, I wanted to show them that I was eager, and I was serious about the job. And it all panned out. I was offered a job within the week. I’m so excited to start this new job, in a new area from where I am. Though it’s not local, I am able to stay IN Canada and in the same province. I consider myself lucky.

I’m heading up north to become the ESL director for an International Summer camp. I’ll be teaching every day and I’m so excited for it! These last few months of working retail (again) have been pretty draining to be honest, and I’m really excited to get some more career experience under my belt. I’m nervous to be around bugs, and to also be given quite a bit of responsibility, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’ll be 6 more weeks away from my loved ones, but I’ll come out of it with some great experiences and hopefully even better stories.

Look forward to posts about camp life, some photos of the Muskoka area, and just some stories of my experiences up there. It’s been hard to write posts about everything I’ve been doing at home because it all seemed so mundane to me, after a while. I’m sure everything gets like that though, I felt like that in Korea after a few months… Going to Seomyeon every weekend, noraebang and the like. I like the comfortability of life, and I hope I get just as comfortable up north.

Sorry this one is so short, I leave on Wednesday and I’m hoping to get as much family time as possible before I head out. I’m looking forward to some nice pictures, getting a nice tan, and teaching some kids! I don’t know how reliable my wifi will be up there but I’ll try my best to get a post up at least once every two weeks, or more frequently if I can manage.

Thanks for sticking around for so long with me everyone! Looking forward to more interesting content for you, and for me… haha

 

Until next time,

B.

 

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Live where you love. #hamont

I’ve been falling back in love with my hometown… Sort of. I’m actually just having a sordid affair with our wonderful restaurants and the mall. When I lived in Busan I tried to go to small businesses and restaurants a lot. Businesses have a habit of closing if they don’t do well after a while in Korea, and I know this isn’t as common in Canada but I still want places I like to do well. Either way, I’ve been enjoying new restaurants here and places that have opened up while I was away.

20160405_153121.jpgOne of my most recent meals was at Mezcal, a tiny taco place that stole my heart with it’s delicious wild boar tacos and churro sundaes. It was everything I could ask for and more. The tacos stole the show, and my friends and I all enjoyed everything we got. Including some very well mixed tequila cocktails. There’s something about an afternoon buzz, good food, and better company that can just make your whole week.

Two cafes that have been my top picks in Hamilton would have to be Cafe Oranje, 20160427_150941.jpgour little Dutch piece of heaven, and Mulberry, a quiet little spot on James North. Cafe Oranje has
speculas (cookie butter!!!) lattes, and constantly has Donut Monster donuts. Mulberry has amazing treats and delicious hot chocolate. These cafes make me miss the places in Korea but we have no problem hunkering down in them and chatting for a few hours.

I’ve also went to a few food-re20160223_190145.jpglated local events. The first being Soup fest back in February
where I had Chicken and Waffle soup for the first time! It was amazing. The second being a food truck event super close to home where a few trucks faced off in a slider competition. My favourite slider was a play on a big mac, with some spam. That slider ended up winning! I’m looking forward to the summer festivals coming up soon.  I’m going to miss out on the festivals20160511_182620.jpg this summer due to work but I will hit up the Peach Festival for sure!

 

Hamilton is the waterfall capital of the world. Did you know that? I sure did. I’m trying to explore more of the city in my time off because I did get to hike a bit in Korea (though it was kind of dramatic) and I enjoyed it a bit. Hamilton is a lot less mountainous than Korea, so it’s a lot more manageable. One hike was in an area of Hamilton I’ve always heard about, but never really explored. My friends and I explored The Devil’s punch bowl one soggy afternoon and it made for an interesting day. It had rained a few days prior so there was a lot of muck but the weather was mild and it was

overall a good day. Another hike was to Cherry Hill. My mom, sisters, and I have a standing tradition to hike Cherry Hill every Good Friday, as long as the weather is good. The area is surrounded by water and the animals in the area know to come to people so they can get snacks. We fed chipmunks, squirrels, birds, etc. It was such a fun day!

Hamilton is home to me. It’s been great getting back into my city, and especially buying so many things at the mall. I love Old Navy and I always will, I missed it dearly when I was in Korea. The mall is kind of my safe space. Yes, I can go without buying things, but it’s nice window shopping and helping friends when they need to get an outfit, or a gift, or buy shoes, whatever. I just like the mall.. Except when it’s Friday night and every high school kid in the city loiters the mall for hours. I enjoy the mall during the morning-afternoon before it’s soiled by youths.

Anyway, this Grandma is 25 now. Life isn’t any clearer at this age and I doubt this cloudy picture will become any clearer any time soon. I’m still thinking about my next move, and when I know what it is, you’ll be top on the list to know.

Thanks for sticking by me for this, I know it’s been a lot different since I’ve gotten home and I’m really sad about it. Life as an adult is hard, and I’m sure you’re all figuring that out.

Next post soon, I hope.

Until next time,
B.  xoxoxoxoxo

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Geishas, Pumpkin Lattes, and Chicken Hearts.

I lied in my last post, unless “really soon” means two months later? I’m so sorry about that… Let’s get to it anyway.  Why do I keep naming my posts in threes? Well, it’s just so interesting right? I think so at least. When I last left my posts about Kyoto, I had went to the Golden Temple, ate some yummy ramen, and explored Kyoto Station. Well now I was ready to head off into Gion, arguably one of the most famous regions of Kyoto. fb_img_1451365497396.jpgGion is famous for being one of the main areas where geishas live and work. Though the geishas of today are not like those of the past, they are still women who are performance artists. It is not very likely that you will find a geisha or maiko (geisha in training) wandering around Gion. If you’re lucky enough to see one (like I was!) they’ll be rushing around, hoping not to be spotted and swarmed by tourists. It’s kind of scary to be followed around, like some sort of semi-celebrity, so I don’t blame them for running. I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a beautifully dressed girl in a blue kimono. She nodded at me and I at her, and she scurried down an alley before anyone else saw her. Probably one of the coolest experiences of my trip, though it was fleeting.fb_img_1451365500702.jpg
Gion had a wonderfully old school charm to it. Old wooden buildings, small shops. I wandered through the streets happily, after downing a sweet caramel pumpkin latte from Tully’s.
Which was probably tastier than a pumpkin spice latte, I haven’t had one in years now so I’ll compare this fall… I looked through the shops in Gion, buying some konpetti and the traditional Kyoto cookies made from cinnamon called yatsuhashi/bridge cookies (that are amazing!). I just enjoyed being a tourist. I loved Kyoto and how it felt being there, I did everything I wanted to do and then just sat down and people watched for a bit. I was on the edge of the Kamo River, watching the sun go down under a willow tree. The buildings lit up and I felt like I was in a fantasy world. It seems to cheesy to write something like that but I really did feel content with my life.

fb_img_1451365517448.jpgI wasn’t just waiting for nothing though, a friend from highschool was working in Kyoto and she agreed to meet with me for dinner. She took me to Fushimi Inari and we saw all the cool torii gates, as well as some cute cats and a tiny lizard. It was an interesting experience because it was night-time and the area is not brightly lit but it was still cool. We saw many shrines and small foxes. I would’ve liked to eat some kitsune udon while I was there but I’ll save that for next time I’m in Kyoto…

fb_img_1451365554621.jpgWe finished up at Fushimi Inari and then headed to an Izakaya for dinner. Izakaya are Japanese bars, but are kind of like a snack and alcohol bar. It was all fairly inexpensive for several drinks, a delicious cabbage dish (that was refillable and free!) and many fried foods. I had stuffed peppers, chicken skewers, and even chicken hearts. Not my favourite thing but when in Japan… Haha. We settled up the bill and hurried back to Kyoto station so I could make my train back to Osaka on time. A short ride later i was back in Osaka and I hit the motherlode of kitkats in the station. I figured they’d be good gifts to bring home and also it was going to be my last time in Japan for a long time so I might as well spend the money I had.

I saw lots of people in Halloween costumes too which was nice, people in Japan love Halloween! It was refreshing to see a country love a holiday that much. After rushing to the subway, I made the last train back to Doubutsuen-mae, and then back to my hotel.fb_img_1451365535906.jpg

I was thankful for a lovely solo trip and I enjoyed spending my last bit of yen on things in Japan. I know I’ll be back in Japan one day but since I don’t know when that will be, I can reflect and know that I did enjoy exactly what I wanted to.
So ends my trip posts. I haven’t been on any trips since being home, and I’ve been home nearly six months. I’m itching to go somewhere new, and I hope you’ll stick around for it.

Coming next are some posts from home and I hope you’ll enjoy them too. Thanks for sticking with me!

Until next time,
B.

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Temples, Traditions, and Ramen

Early Sunday morning I hopped on the subway from Dobustsuen-mae to Osaka station. I tried grabbing some delicious ebi-mayo rolls but the closest conbini was sold out… I settled for some pastries from a bakery in Osaka station and then made my way to the train.

A ticket from Osaka to Kyoto was only $6. I didn’t expect it to be so cheap and I was pleasantly surprised. I was kind of lost waiting for the train but the signage was abundant and I had enough WiFi to give me some google maps directions to exactly what train to get on. We pulled in to Kyoto station just after 11am and I was speechless.

fb_img_1451365423762.jpgKyoto station is HUGE! I wandered around for a bit, not really knowing where to go. I wasfb_img_1451365427726.jpg by myself, with a few goals in mind of where to go, and that was it. I looked for the kitkat
store with no luck, grabbed a pumpkin milk tea and then went outside. It was a warm autumn day and I was so happy. The station was bustling with people, all eager to explore the city like I was. I purchased a $5 bus pass, which  was good all day for any bus in the
city. I had three places in mind to go to in Kyoto and all day to do it. The only set plans I had were not until the evening, where I’d meet a friend for dinner and Fushimi Inari.

I set off on my first bus, to a place I’d dreamed about going for almost a decade. The bus was long and full to the gills, but I was so excited. I had my kindle with me so the journey was easy enough, and before I knew it the bus was emptying at our stop. I walked quickly up the road to see a bunch of small shops and restaurants full of life. The temple was across the street in a wooded area. I paid my $5 entry fee, completely worth  it, and made my way inside. Kinkakuji temple, or the Golden temple, completely took my breath away. I was shaking, nervous and excited. It’s completely ridiculous to feel that way about a temple but this place was beautiful. This place solidified my love for Japanese architecture and allowed me to grow as a person. I went from a teenager who wanted to go to the land of anime to a young woman eager to see more of the world.fb_img_1451365445815.jpg

It was all thanks to my friend James. He had been to Kyoto during his exchange year in Japan. We sent emails all the time and the pictures he sent me were burned into my mind forever. I was kind of teary eyed looking at the temple, I took my time, took it all in and took many pictures. Kinkakuji has been on my small bucket list of places to go for years, it was possibly the first entry on that list and I finally made it. I wandered the temple grounds, basically floating from place to place. I bought some mementos but I knew this place would be a part of me forever.

After a thoroughly enlightening experience, I wandered slowly back down the street. I stopped in the shops along the roads and looked at all the souvenirs they had to offer. I wasn’t really in a shopping mood, and that’s an odd feeling for me. I was completely and utterly happy. I fb_img_1451365480169.jpghopped on a bus back to Kyoto Station (my centralized point) and decided it was time for lunch. As I ascended the many escalators in Kyoto Station I was treated to a wonderful performance by a high school orchestra. Not only were they really good, they were also playing Disney songs. I sang along and sat and enjoyed the show before heading to Ramen Street. Ramen Street is a name for a section of the department store in Kyoto Station. Famous enough to have its own name but I didn’t think it was the greatest. The restaurants all seemed to serve the same stuff and they all had varying lengthy lines out front. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with ramen in Japan so I just picked one that looked appealing and bought my ticket. Turns out I was not wrong, and I enjoyed the second best ramen I’ve had  in Japan. Nothing beats that creamy delicious ramen I had in Shinjuku though… After filling up, I headed back out to Gion, where I’d explore the historic area of Kyoto, maybe catching a glimpse of a Geisha…

Originally this was only going to be two posts but to save your eyes I’m going to make a 3rd post. It’s hard to believe I was only there for 2 days but my last trip to Japan was one to remember. Sorry for the delay in my posts, lots of stuff going on at home so I’ve been a little busy!

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Next post really soon!
Until next time!
B

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Kyoto

On one of my last weekends in Busan I decided to step out of the country. I really don’t know when I’ll head over to Asia again and I needed to strike this one city off my bucket list before I left.
Kyoto has been on my list of places to go for almost ten years. One of my best friends went on an exchange to Japan in the tenth grade and they had went on a field trip to Kyoto. When I opened the email and saw Kinkakuji I knew I had to go. It was one of first times a picture took my breath away… So I decided to treat myself to a trip to Osaka.

fb_img_1451365380797.jpgI had a long weekend at the beginning of October so I took a few days to myself and then flew out of Gimhae in the afternoon on Saturday. Each flight with Air Busan required me to board the plane by staircase, and there’s something glamorous about that for some reason, no matter who is shoving you… I loved flying Air Busan because the staff was friendly, the snacks were good, and the flights were painless. Immigration getting in to Osaka was easy too. I was feeling good getting into KIX. I decided to take a risk with WiFi this time going to Osaka.

Now usually when I go to Japan I rent a WiFi router from SoftBank. I have had no issues with it and it’s fairly inexpensive. Since I was only going to be there two days, I decided to try one of the free WiFi apps they advertised in the terminal. This was a blessing and a curse. Blessing: I didn’t spend $40 on a router, nor did I have a temporary charge of $400 on my card (they do this for security purposes). It also allowed me to enjoy being alone and the sights and sounds of a beautiful place. Why did I enjoy it so much?? The curse: it rarely worked. It was as if I had to stand in one foot and hop up and down to keep a signal. It didn’t cost me anything but it also did not benefit me too much. I was okay on my own but if you need a constant connection, you should not use the app TravelJapan Free WiFi. Yes it was free but it was not convenient in Osaka or Kyoto. Maybe it’d be better in Tokyo but I really had a hard time. Luckily I planned ahead and wrote down the important directions.

My hotel in Osaka was sort of traditional. It was a hostel type building but I slept on a tatami floor. I had a tiny room to myself, perfect for me, and it was quiet and relatively clean. It was kind of old, but the staff was really friendly and helpful. I stayed in a place called Backpackers Hotel Toyo. It has a great location in Osaka, only 2-3 stops from the Dotonbori/Namba area and also located near Shin-Imamiya station on the JR Line. The hotel was super close to the Dobutsuen-mae subway station. Lots of conbinis around and I even saw people with Donki bags but I didn’t have enough time to scour my area of town.

After finding my hotel, I dropped all my stuff off and headed back out. fb_img_1451365415554.jpgTaking an afternoon flight only allowed me a few hours in Osaka, but I made the most of them. I left my hotel just before 8pm and was in Namba, lost and confused, just after 8:15. After wandering around and shopping, I found my way to the familiar Shinsaibashi area. I grabbed a few tsum tsums for my collection (limited edition Halloween ones!!) and then spent far too much money at Donki. I can’t say enough good things about Donki. It’s my favourite store in Japan.

After I was all shopped out, I headed back to my hotel not before stopping at Family mart. Japan is obsessed with Halloween and I was excited to grab a bunch of goodies while I was there. I tried lots of pumpkin flavoured things… It had started to rain so I hurried back to my hotel and settled in for the night.

Conbini food in Japan is amazing and I was so happy be reunited with my ebi mayo rolls. Mmmm.

fb_img_1451365386668.jpgNext post I’ll detail my day trip to Kyoto, which was amazing in itself. Chicken hearts, creepy foxes, little lizards, and the Golden temple await you!

Thanks for your patience and happy new year!!! I hope your holidays were amazing and please look forward to some new posts for the new year!

Until next time,
B

 

Here’s a Kyoto teaser pic…fb_img_1451365465476.jpg

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Time flies when you’re eating everything

20151104_102526.jpgI can’t believe it has already been a month since I left Korea. It seems like just yesterday I was rushing to the airport after cramming everything in to a cardboard box and mailing the things I couldn’t get into my overweight suitcases home. It was such an overwhelming and emotional day, and I just remember chit chatting and talking with the American border guards, happy to be able to talk to everyone. It was such an exciting time. It’s been so weird coming home and expecting things to be different but things have been shockingly similar. It’s so weird being home but at the same time it’s comforting. Like putting on an old sweater that still fits perfectly but you know is past it’s prime.20151104_193207.jpg

I hopped back into the job I left last year, so in some ways it feels like the
last year of my life did not even happen. But of course it did, and I’m
reminded of Korea almost daily still. There are lots of things I don’t miss, and lots of things I do, and of course I’ve had moments of reverse culture shock, so to speak… One of the main things that sticks out is how small everything is. I was so used to the shelter provided by all the tall buildings in Korea. Everything is so small and short and spaced out here. The tall buildings at home are fewer and far between.20151105_165544.jpg I am not used to seeing the sky so clearly every day! I miss looking out at the mountains on my way to work every day, and my lovely little walk through the park. Small things like that. I miss that so much!

I love my drive to work every day, it goes by so quickly and I missed being in a car (without paying for it, haha). It’s been super convenient being at home as my boyfriend, Andrew, has got his own car since I’ve been gone! I love the little road trips we’ve been going on. It’s changed a lot of things, making me feel almost grown up completely… even if I don’t really think I should be a grown up. I still feel weird about being home sometimes because I had prepared myself for things to be different and in some respects they were, but in many they weren’t.

It was really odd for me to come home first because a: I was riding in the car with Andrew for the first time with him driving (on a highway! in his car!) and b: the place I had called home before leaving for Korea did not exist anymore. My mom moved while I was gone and I had made arrangements to live with my boyfriend. We’ve been together for a long time and it is the next logical step. Our first month of co-habitation seems to be going well. It was just weird for me to go home to a place that didn’t really feel like home yet. It took me at least two or three months for my apartment in Korea to really feel like home… this place is a little easier to adjust to but I feel like I’m missing things!  It’s gonna take a bit of time to get completely comfortable but I’m getting there.

I really miss the transit in Busan. I miss being able to hop on the subway and zone out. I did not miss the city bus here, which has increased its fare to $2.75 a ride, and always has an odd smell. The subway was quick, easy, and I usually never had to worry about small talk on my commutes. I also really miss my students a lot. I’ve been talking to a few of them on Kakao Talk but it’s not the same! I’m sad I won’t see any of them, probably ever again😦. I also miss a lot of the foods. Mostly pumpkin pajeon if I’m being honest, and also being able to get a delicious lunch for under $5.

Food here is amazing, I’ve almost made it through my entire list of wants from when I was in Korea, but it’s so expensive! I had a meal with my friends one night and I spent four times the cost of a meal in Korea. I didn’t even get any drinks with that…. I miss the low costs of Korea (food wise) but I also love being able to fold up my freshly dried clothes, sit in a huge lovely bathtub, and bake anything I want!teacher

What’s next for me though? I still don’t know. I feel like I keep repeating

that but I also have an idea of what I want. Andrew and I are at an
interesting point in our lives. We’re in between a lot of things, and I think that this could be a great opportunity for growth. I think I might be moving soon, and if I want to continue to teach or work in the ESL field, I know I have to do that. I also want to travel more! But that will have to wait until I get some more money saved, and get into a better paying job.

img_20151106_174228.jpgFor now, I’m content to hang out with some good people, eat delicious food, and spend the holidays at home. I’m so happy to be home for Christmas, and I’m loving all the holiday things everywhere. I do miss the lovely tree in Nampo though, so if you’re in Busan please go and see the lights for me!🙂  My next post will be a well overdue travel post! Look forward to it!!

Until next time,
B.20141130_174447.jpg

 

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Why I was happy with a hagwon.

wpid-img_20150923_142530.jpgI began writing this post two months ago after a weekend away with some EPIK teachers. One of the girls, who I really admire and like, made a comment that made me really think about the reputation academies in Korea have and how all the fears I had before working at one were unfounded. I thought this would be a helpful post for anyone looking to come to Korea to teach, and may have been rejected by EPIK or wanting to avoid the public school route all together. Both public and private schools have their pros and cons, I’m just going to write about my experience and what I’ve learned over my last year in Korea.

A hagwon is an academy is Korean. Academies are after school schools where kids go to do extra studying on top of their already busy schedules. Hagwons have notoriously bad reputations in Korea because most of them put business before education. Hagwons are not regulated, they’re owned and operated independently from the metropolitan government. They have their own rules and can be kind of intimidating, but they can also be really rewarding.

Hagwons can be a crapshoot, even after all the years of teachers being forced to deal with 11th month firings, and lack of pension or healthcare. Recently a group of hagwon teachers got together and SUED their academy for poor standards: no vacation, no pension, no healthcare. The only reason schools in Korea get away with this is because people let them! They take job offers at schools offering the bare minimum of things: 3 month-long internship periods, no pension, no healthcare, no access to a current teacher. If no one says anything, they’ll continue to do it!

If the school is offering you a contract look for these main things: salary clearly stated, teaching hours clearly stated (no more than 30 hours or you could be killing yourself, it’s a lot of work), vacation days (usually 10 plus the 10 red days -national holidays), round trip or one-way flight (this seems to be the new trend a one-way flight but there are still some schools offering round-trip airfare), and the two biggies the LEGAL biggies: NATIONAL PENSION – which your academy HAS to pay into by law if you are a full-time teacher, and NATIONAL HEALTHCARE – also has to be paid into, legally. DO NOT take an extra $100-$500 a month and not get healthcare or pension. To be contracted as anything other than a full-time or part-time teacher on your E-2 visa is ILLEGAL! If you’re not getting healthcare or pension your school is breaking the law by filing you as an Independent Contractor. The last, and probably the most important is access to the current teacher. If the school refuses to let you talk to them that’s a HUGE red flag. The current teacher knows the ins and outs of the school. Talk to them before signing anything.

Now, scary stuff aside hagwons can be great. Shop around! As a newly graduated person with a B.A you’re going to have pick of the litter, if you’re patient. I had to wait quite a bit before finding my job. It took months. I had a few offers, and I nearly signed a contract, but I did some more research and found the academy I almost signed with failed to pay severance or even pay their teachers on time. Thank god for the internet because I found an old teacher on Twitter of all places. Had I not found her I would probably be writing a different story right now. The important thing is to have standards. All jobs have the same offerings but find one that caters to your hours, and has a good rep with their current teachers. Don’t jump on the first offer you get because likely, it’s not going to be the best.

I get really offended when people say things like “You couldn’t pay me enough to work in a hagwon.” or “all hagwons care about is money.” This stuff is TRUE for most places but my school was AMAZING. I have to be 100% honest I got very, very lucky. I had an amazing boss, super friendly coworkers, and mostly great kids. Of course there were kids I wanted to banish to the hallway for an eternity, but I had flexibility in my classes, I got to sing songs and do dances for kids, and even watch movies with my kids! We had a great curriculum that approached English in a way that was inviting. It was so much fun and super rewarding. When I listened to my friends talk about their EPIK schools and even other academies I felt pretty lucky.

Here’s some anecdotes and comparisons I made about my experience and the EPIK experiences I heard about:

  • EPIK class sizes are about 35-40 kids PER class. You see them once a week. My classes maxed out at 12 kids and I saw almost all of them 2 times a week. Smaller classes are so much easier to handle, especially for a first time teacher.
  • EPIK teachers seem lonely: one foreigner in school, your co-teachers aren’t always friendly. This is the case for most people. My school had one other foreign teacher and my Korean co-teachers did not hesitate to ask me questions, chat about kids, or invite me to dinner.  Even having one other foreigner was great because you had someone to chat with when you needed it. Contrary to popular belief being the only foreigner teacher at an academy is not a bad thing, nor does it mean your school is poor, some schools are just smaller than others.
  • Sometimes you have to teach at 1-4 schools a week with EPIK, transportation not provided. This means you could have to bus to different places during a single day. No thanks. I had a 5 minute door-to-door commute from my apartment to school. Some teachers got a bonus for working additional schools but the bonuses barely cover the monthly transit.
  • An academy allows you to get closer with students: learn their Korean and English names, and you can spend one on one time with them. I spent hours with my students joking around with them, etc. I could even see them outside of class and say hello. When you teach an ENTIRE public school it’s hard to remember each face and name. When you teach a smaller portion of a school at an academy you can make better connections with your students.
  • When there’s a problem with your apartment sometimes nothing happens. And your apartment (EPIK or academy) can be really crappy depending on how many teachers have used it before you. When I had a problem in my apartment my director had it fixed within the week I asked. I never had any issues. It really does vary school to school though.
  • Vacations: EPIK is WAY better for vacations. I think you get the majority of August off and the majority of January. At an academy the most you’ll get is 5 days in winter and 5 days in summer. If you have a good school. I am jealous of the EPIK vacation time. Second only to the university vacation time (like 10 weeks!!)
  • Bonuses: maybe $100 more, if that, plus your settlement bonus from EPIK. You’ll get more there but not much more than you would at an academy.
  • EPIK has the cushioning that is safe, but it’s not where you’ll make the most money, EPIK is a long-standing program with a good reputation so it’s more secure than most academies but some academies have been around for many years. My academy, though unknown to most foreigners, is pretty famous in Busan and has been around for 16 years.
  • If you want to make more money in EPIK you have to be working in a rural area which sucks most of the time. Being the only foreigner in a small town can be draining on the most confident of person. EPIK in a rural area can be super rewarding but also really difficult. Not for the weak hearted that’s for sure.
  • From what’s been going around the internet: the EPIK program is on the way out. This program was not meant to last. Each year there are more and more schools cut from the program due to lack of funding. It’s sad really.
  • Recently I’ve seen that the EPIK program is really discriminatory against tattoos. From a thread on reddit, several new applicants to EPIK were rejected right away and the one common factor: they all had tattoos. Or they all were crap at writing an essay, the jury is still out.

I just want to get my opinion out there! I’m not bitter that I got rejected from EPIK. I  was sad when I first found out, but also happy I got to work at my school. My school was wonderful and I could not have asked for a better first place to teach at! I think there are a lot of misconceptions about hagwons/hakwons/academies in Korea and before working at one myself I had my own reservations. Take your time, ask questions, and don’t feel rushed into anything. If it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t.  Check out Facebook for groups like: hagwon blacklist (bad schools in Korea), and Teachers in Korea. It’s full of people who have done the jobs you want to do. Trust your instincts and ask others for help!

Sorry for my lack of posting, I’m still adjusting to life in Canada again. I’ll have some more posts up soon! Thanks for your patience, I love you guys!

Until next time,
B.