**Please note that contract details and application requirements have drastically changed since I applied (and are constantly being changed), but let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to help.**
I was recently asked by Emma of Emma’s New Groove if I have any advice for someone applying for EPIK (English Program in Korea). I definitely do!
My first bit of advice is get your documents together…. NOW! Recommendation letters, background check, passport photos, etc. I applied through a recruiter (Korvia) because the process intimidated me and I wanted someone to hold my hand along the way. As I was in the process of applying, I wished I had gone through EPIK directly (http://www.epik.go.kr/).
Decide which level you want to teach. Every level has its ups and downs. The up side to elementary is that you will more than likely have an active co-teacher, meaning you will literally be CO-teaching. The down side is that some of the co-teachers are crotchedy and stuck in their ways, but it’s just the luck of the draw and every level has good and bad co-teachers. In middle and high school you will more than likely be teaching alone. If your co-teacher is in the class, he or she will probably only be there to play the role of disciplinarian. You may or may not be teaching out of the book. Some people like the freedom of not having to work out of a book, but you have to come up with all new ideas every week. The good news is that there’s a large community of English teachers in Korea that are more than happy to share ideas.
Decide where in Korea you want to work. Do you want to go urban or rural? Do some research. If you can swing it, try rural. You get paid more and a lot of times the rural cities aren’t as small as you’re afraid they will be. Korea’s a small place so it’s fairly easy to get around on the weekends. I chose urban and ended up in Busan. I love Busan. I think it’s great and would highly recommend it to anyone. It’s not as hot in the summer here, but it is very humid. I’ve been told it doesn’t really snow here in the winter, but it is quite windy so the cold is a bit bitter. I’ve heard that Busan is quite popular so if you’re interested in working here, APPLY EARLY. **On your application you’ll be asked to pick one preferred office of education to work for. The next question asks if you are willing to work in other provinces or if you’d like to withdraw your application if the office of education to selected is unavailable.**
Be patient. This application process is one of the most painful things you can go through. It will stress you out like no other. The best way to experience the least amount of stress is to apply early. It’s still going to take you forever to find out if you got a job, but your odds are better. If you apply early, pass your interview and send your documents in right away, you are probably going to get a position. You probably will not know if you have gotten a position until a month before it’s time to go to Korea. For the fall intake, I think some didn’t find out until a week or two before.
Get doubles of documents. Ask for 2 (or more) copies of the same recommendation letter, get at least two background checks, apostilled copies of your diploma and transcripts. If EPIK falls through and you’re still serious about going to Korea, you’ll need backup documents because EPIK won’t be returning what you’ve already submitted. You don’t want to scramble at the last minute. Also, if you’re in Korea and want to change jobs for the second year, you’ll already have extra documents and it will make the application process much easier.
Look online for a Facebook group so you can share your experiences with other people that are going through what you are. Other places like Daves ESL Cafe and Waygook.org can be helpful, but once you apply it’s nice to be able to cut out all of the crap and just talk about what you want. It can also be a good way to network and make friends before you go. Most of you will be going alone so it doesn’t hurt to make all of the friends you can.
EPIK has now started making “official” facebook groups for applicants that are monitored by them. It’s nice that they see the need for it, but I think it’s much nicer to be able to form a community with your peers rather than being in a group formed by EPIK. If you agree, don’t be afraid to make your own group for your intake. EPIK does have an official facebook page with a lot of great information so be sure to check it out.
I hope this is helpful to any people thinking about applying to EPIK. Korea is amazing and I think it’s well worth the journey. It will be a year of your life that you’ll never forget. If you have any more questions, please post a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.