The Road to Korea – Packing Tips

Hey everyone! As you know, I have been placed in Daejeon, South Korea for October 2017 intake!

My flight lands Sunday night and I finally have everything I need to travel in peace. So, here is what I’m packing based on luggage and what I’ve heard.

Personal Item Bag

Check with your airline to see what kind of personal item bag you can bring on the flight with you. I am packing a backpack I picked up from Academy Sports since all of my other backpacks I’ve accumulated throughout the years are either too big or don’t have enough protection going on with it. 

In the bag:
Laptop
Cameras (I haven’t tested if both of mine will safely fit in the bag. we will see)
Chargers – this includes travel adapters (plugs in Korea don’t look the same). I have way too many of these so I’ve let other friends borrow the adapters for when they go to other countries. 
Tablet
Cellphones – I’m bringing my unlocked one and locked one because I don’t have a Korean number yet and I can’t use KakaoTalk on the new phone without an active number yet. 
Passport
Important documents (my teaching certificate and what not)
Wallet
Flushable wet wipes
Snacks
Water bottle
Umbrella
Travel pillow
Some toiletries I’ll need to use on the plane

Basically anything you need immediate access to, goes in the personal item bag

Carry-On Luggage

I packed two weeks worth of clothing into my carry-on. Two weeks meaning, I packed items I can layer and mix and match into the carry-on. Number of each items don’t matter here, except the underwear. Weight limit matters as well.

I will be in Korea a week before training. So, another week of clothing is necessary. However, I would have packed a week and a half if I were just coming right before training, for emergency clothing. I also packed toiletries and shower shoes (since I may end up in a Korean style shower).

Checked Luggage

 I’m bringing two checked suitcases with me. I originally only wanted to bring one and then I remembered my video game systems. I want to bring my PlayStation 4, so I needed another suitcase to not exceed the weight limit. 

In suitcase one: 
The rest of the clothes I do wear are packed into a large compressed bag
A small painting a friend gave me
The rest of my bras (not compressed) – I heard it’s harder to find bras when you get into the larger sizes. So if you are past a C, bring as many bras as you think you will need. I heard shops like 8Seconds and Uniqlo have bras in bigger sizes if you get placed in a bigger city. 
Hair products – I’m black and my hair is natural. I was told you can’t find black hair care products in Korea, which makes sense. Most Koreans do not have kinky, curly hair. 
Extra deodorant – they have it. It’s just expensive.
One full sized towel – they have them, but this one is for orientation.

In suitcase two: 
PlayStation 4
Cords and extra chargers and adapters
Games for PS4
My big winter coat (this was going to be worn on the plane, but the weather is currently sitting in the 70s in Korea)
Shoes I actually wear. My shoe size varies between an 8-10 and in Korea the shoe size stops at 8 and bigger sizes are harder to find. I heard Uniqlo might have some things, but you never know.
I packed 1 sneakers, 1 converse, 1 flats, 1 booties, 1 pair of boots, 1 rain boots (I have combat boots as well, but I plan to wear those on the plane since they are my heaviest pair of shoes. I may change my mind last minute).
I also packed a few non-essential items that didn’t take up much weight in the carry on. 

I wanted to pack the candles I ordered from Bookish Aromas on Etsy but it looks like they won’t be in by the time I fly out. If they were, they would have gone into suite case two. 

That’s all I can remember. I probably packed more things. 

Until next time, 

Tiara “Kikyo” Giles 

 

 

 

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The Road to Korea – The Visa: Final Waiting Game

Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since I have posted. I have been very busy preparing for my big move to South Korea (I currently have a packing massacre in my home) and editing my manuscript (I don’t think I’m going to finish editing before I leave but we shall see. If anything I’ll be editing on the long plane ride).

So while I wait for my visa application to be delivered to me, here’s how I got my stuff together.

After you have gotten placed by EPIK and you have received an email about your Notice of Appointment (NOA) and contract coming in the mail you should go on ahead and fill out your visa application. EPIK (or your recruiter) will email you a sample visa application. Follow that sample 100% and put your name and passport information where they suggest.

Make sure you start on EPIK pre-orientation as well. There is a lot of video footage that you will need to watch in order to prepare for your arrival. The earlier you start, the better.

You will also receive a digital copy of your information packet with the address to your POE/MOE you will use on your visa application.

Remember to look up which consulate your state falls under. If you are lucky enough to live in the same state as your consulate bringing the necessary documents stated on your consulates website will be much easier for you. You will be able to drop it off and pick up your completed visa in a week.

If you have to mail it like me, I live in Mississippi and my consulate is in Houston, mail what is needed along with your NOA, real passport, and contract (these will be needed if you go in person as well), and it should take 5-7 after arrival for it to process and then a few days for it to return to you.

You will not get your NOA and contract back. Don’t worry though because EPIK has copies of your official contract that you will receive after you have arrived in Korea and have gone through orientation.

I hope that helps!

I’m still waiting on mine. However, by the time you see this post, I may have received my visa already (check my timeline here to see when I received my visa).

Until next time,

Tiara “Kikyo” Giles

The Road to Korea – A New Timeline

Hey everyone! A new timeline is here for my continued attempts to teach and travel to South Korea. I’m not giving up! I have color coded all of the important portions of the spring process for those wait-listed.

7/18/2017: I get wait-listed to Spring 2018 Intake with EPIK

7/19/2017: My recruiter sends me the Spring 2018 application so I can update my Fall application information. I email him my updated application shortly after. 

7/29/2017: My recruiter receives my Spring 2018 application and begins reviewing it before sending the application to EPIK.

8/1/2017: Spring Intake begins. 

8/3/2017: Requested an updated FBI background check from a nearby channeler. 

8/9/2017: Received FBI CRC (It probably came earlier but I didn’t get an email update. I had to log back in again to see it). 

8/10/2017: Emailed recruiter for an update on my Spring Application. I have not heard if there were any application issues or if EPIK received it in over two weeks.

8/30/2017: I receive an email from Korvia about EPIK having a few late intake spots open for September and October. I respond immediately about my interest in the October late intake. However, I saw that two girls in the Facebook group got positions for the September and October late intakes. So I assumed I would still be waiting for Spring Intake.

9/1/2017: EPIK receives my updated application for Spring Intake. I was told since I was wait listed for Spring that I will be skipping the interview process and going straight to resubmitting the spring application and apostilled FBI CRC in the mail and then to placement. 

9/1/2017: Finally requested an apostille for my FBI CRC through the channeler US Authentication. 

9/11/2017: I GOT PLACED FOR LATE FALL INTAKE IN DAEJEON!

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This is the city I originally wanted as well. I couldn’t believe it! I still can’t believe it! I’m actually going to Korea! Wow!!! My recruiter messaged me on Skype before I got the official email and I was super excited then I got the official email and almost cried tears of joy. 

9/11/2017: NOA and Contract is mailed to me through DHL.

9/12/2017: I get the EPIK Pre-Orientation email but I found it in the spam folder. 

9/13/2017: I receive my NOA and Contract from DHL.

9/14/2017: I finish EPIK Pre-Orientation

9/15/2017: Mailed Visa Application to the Houston Consulate and application for form 8802 to the IRS. 

9/18/2017: Visa Application is delivered to the Houston Consulate. I am waiting to get notified about when they will begin processing my application. You can check to see when they will be processing at your consulates ‘check your application status’ page. 

9/25/2017: I GOT MY VISA. Now to get that flight booked! 

Until next time,

Tiara Kikyo Giles

The Road to Korea – What’s Next?

At the end of my previous post I got wait-listed. The news was very devastating and I cried. A lot. After the tears stopped I emailed my recruiter about what to do next. I could wait for spring intake and the only thing I would have to update is my application and my FBI CRC (Criminal Record Check). Or I could try other public school programs that had availability left and even hagwons (Korean private schools – the more complicated route). Sigh.

I decided to wait for Spring Intake.

The idea of trying to find and secure a position in Korea in less than month was stressful. My finances aren’t where I would like them to be (even after the donation help, but the timeline I posted here will show why). I have to move out of my apartment at the end of this month and I might be out of wi-fi at my house for a couple of months. Most interviews in Korea will take place between 7am and 5pm in Korea which would make it 7pm-5am central time in America. Not very ideal when you don’t have internet.

Waiting just ended up being the best option. It sucks but it’s not actually that bad. The school year in Korea begins in the Spring and the process will be different for those wait-listed. So if you have to wait don’t worry. I’m right there with you.

In the meantime, I’ll find part time work, practice my Korean (maybe I’ll become fluent!), help out with my sorority, and write a lot. I have already sent my recruiter my updated application and after he reviews it and sends it off to EPIK (the spring process officially begins August 1st) another timeline will begin!

Until next time,

Tiara “Kikyo” Giles

 

The Road to Korea – A Timeline

Hey everyone! It’s been a while!

I had been contemplating for about a month over what to write about next on my blog and also what to upload next on my YouTube Channel. I had honestly been contemplating talking about what I was up to over the summer but I was hesitant about telling you all.

However, I decided to go on ahead and talk about it here but not on my Facebook page. I’ll discuss it on YouTube later once I am able to focus and settle my mind down.

I applied to teach English in South Korea in March through Korvia Consulting (a recruiting agency). I wanted to face some fears, learn to get out of my comfort zone, and try new things. Why not apply to teach overseas?

But here is a brief timeline to show you where I am at in the process.

Somewhere Mid-June of 2016: I apply for my passport. I had been planning to travel to Korea for a long time but seemed to not have the money. This time I at least had the funds for a passport. The process was a little daunting since they thought there was something wrong with my ID and requested further forms of identification. My ID was fine. I just happened to be 22 with a leaner’s permit. I know. I know. I wrote about it here.

8/24/2016: My sorority sister sends me an email suggesting I try teaching English in South Korea. She stated a few other sorority sisters in the past had applied and got accepted to EPIK and loved the experience.

8/25/2016: My passport arrives!!! I also reach out to one of the sorority sisters that taught with EPIK. I don’t ask about living or teaching. I just ask about traveling to Korea, what cities to go visit, the food, the culture and so on.

September 2016 (I don’t remember the exact date): I began to research teaching English in South Korea and the various ways you can go about doing so. You can try teaching privately through a recruiter or finding a Hagwon (Korean private school) directly that has a job opening, or you can apply to teach publicly through programs such as EPIK, GEPIK, GOE and so on. You can also apply for public schools through a recruiter.

9/30/2016: I ask my sorority sisters about their experiences teaching in Korea for further research.

Sometime in October: The process freaks me out and I decide to hold off on it. I began to wonder if this would be right for me and if this was something I really wanted.

11/13/2016: I decided to look back into teaching in Korea and called my sorority sister that had recently moved back to America.

3/10/2017: I research a few recruiters vs. applying to EPIK directly, Hagwons and other programs.

3/15/2017: I apply to Korvia Consulting and open a GoFundMe Campaign. I had some financial hardships so I needed a little help preparing for Korea since it is recommended to set aside $1000 for the plane ticket and a minimum of $1000 to help with getting settled. I was honestly surprised at the amount of help I was getting with the GoFundMe. However, the goal only reached halfway but help still trickled in through other avenues.

3/17/2017: I am invited to have an initial interview with Korvia Consulting.

3/21/2017: My interview takes place at 11:30 pm CST over Skype which is 1:30pm KST March 22nd in Korea. I receive an email shortly after the interview stating that I passed. My recruiter had suggested that I apply for EPIK and that he and the rest of Korvia would assist me with the process.

3/30/2017: After I had begun to gather all of my initial documents for EPIK, I sent in my application.

4/4/2017: My recruiter requests revisions to my EPIK application.

4/6/2017: Revisions are completed and sent to Korvia Consulting.

4/7/2017: WAITING GAME #1. Korvia has sent my revised application to EPIK. This is the first long wait in the EPIK process since you will be waiting for EPIK to request to have an interview with you. If you are still in school you are in luck because you have classes, final exams, and graduation to distract you. If you have a job, you have work to distract you while you wait. I was also completing my TEFL course at this time so I had plenty on my plate to distract me.

5/6/2017: I graduate from Mississippi State University and I have joined the Korvia EPIK Facebook to get as much information as I can on the process while I continue to await my interview with EPIK.

5/17/2017: EPIK scheduled an interview with me for May 23rd my time.

5/18/2017 (or around there): I find out a sorority sister of mine also applied for EPIK. However, she has applied directly through EPIK and had already passed her interview with EPIK.

5/23/2017: EPIK interview went well with requests for more revisions to my application (specifically the lesson plan and a new recommendation letter).

5/29/2017: I PASSED!!!! However, the email points out that passing the interview doesn’t secure me a place with EPIK nor does it secure my preferred location. The reason for this depends on how soon you get your documents in the EPIK for approval. Once EPIK approves your final documents they will recommend you to a school who will then send you a contract upon acceptance. Thus, making you official with EPIK.

5/30/2017: After seeking advice on how to revise my lesson plan for the application I send in my updated application. At this time I have all final documents for EPIK except my apostilled FBI background check, which USPS had lost in the mail just before I received the news of passing.

6/12/2017: Final documents sent to Korvia Consulting. WAITING GAME #2. The worlds longest waiting game. You’re warned about it. You think you’re prepared, but you’re not. Excitement and nerves are at its highest. I join the EPIK Fall 2017 Facebook group.

6/16/2017: Korvia Consulting has received, reviewed, and sent my final documents to EPIK HQ that same day. However, another error had been noted on my letter of recommendation. I contact my professor that same day to get it fixed. Placements begin to roll out on the EPIK Facebook group. I begin to feel excited and stressed all at the same time.

6/20/2017: I received my updated recommendation letter and mail it to Korvia Consulting. I join a Kakao Talk group with other people from Korvia waiting to hear back about placement.

6/23/2017: Korvia receives my updated recommendation letter and gives it to EPIK HQ the same day. More placements roll out on the Facebook group. My stress continues but it hasn’t been a month yet so I am okay.

6/28/2017: THE SCARE. During this waiting game we get a scare thinking that we all had been waitlisted and EPIK stopped giving out placements. However, it was a misinterpretation of an email a recruiter received from EPIK that discussed the deadline for receiving final documents. Placements would continue to be given.

7/6/2017: EPIK Coordinator posts to the group that they would be rolling out online pre-orientation on the 17th of July. I begin to worry, but I had not been waiting for a month yet.

7/13/2017: At this point, I’m so nervous that I break down and email my recruiter. I hadn’t heard from him since I sent him my updated LoR and my sorority sister had just received her placement. I was beginning to worry again when I had finally become calm for two days prior to emailing him. He responded thirty minutes after I emailed him informing that I was still getting placed. I wasn’t sure if that meant I was being recommended but I hoped that was so.

7/18/2017: Devastating News: I got wait-listed and my application is pushed back for Spring 2018 with EPIK. I am now thinking of what to do and have emailed my recruiter to discuss being wait-listed and other options with him. I also email professors about acquiring updated rec letters.

Important Note: If you don’t get placed in time for fall orientation you get wait listed. This means that if someone quits, loses their job, or does not show up for orientation you will be called in to work. If you are not placed for late intake you will be put down as priority for the spring intake. (Same goes for those who apply in spring and don’t get placed) There is also still a chance of getting cut while waiting for placement but that’s extremely rare.

I’ll update this timeline as more things happen!

Until next time,

Tiara “Kikyo” Giles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching English in South Korea, Maybe?

Hi folks!

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Last year I created a GoFundMe campaign so I could study abroad. However, that didn’t work out. I was only able to raise enough to buy the digital camera I needed for the trip and nothing more.

Now, I want to try again. I have a minimum wage work-study job on campus so it doesn’t pay much. Saving has been kind of hard. I decided to do another GoFundMe campaign to help me actually get to my goal of teaching overseas. I feel like this is a great way to serve a community and truly get to know another culture besides my own.

You don’t have to donate if you don’t want to. If you do, I really appreciate it! I want to keep you guys updated on my life decisions. That includes my dreams, successes, and failures as a new adult.

When I do go to South Korea I’m going to be making tons of videos about my experiences and writing blog posts. Of course, the flash fictions will still be there.

Anyway, here’s the link to the GoFundMe. Share away and help a sister out if you can.

https://www.gofundme.com/tiara-teaches-in-south-korea

Until next time,

Tiara “Kikyohatake” Giles

Feeling Lost

Right now as I am writing this my stomach is literally hurting from the anxiety I had put myself through today. I’ve tried really hard to just stay calm. Take deep breaths. To stop myself from researching so much about the very thing that’s stressing me out. Continue reading