Thursday, August 21, 2014

EPIK Orientation: Flying In and Day 1-2 of Orientation

So I feel like I am behind on this whole blog thing already. I've either been doing something orientation oriented or trying to battle jet lag. (It has been quite the battle.)

The flight to South Korea wasn't that bad. I met tons of other people at JFK airport, so we were able to get acquainted and bond over the impending insanity that we voluntarily signed up for. It was a long fourteen hour flight, and I had kindly given up my window seat (and included wall to rest my weary head) to a little old lady so she could be with her family, so I ended up in an aisle seat, which was okay as there was direct access to the lavatory. But still I had no chance of sleeping, as is always my plight on planes. Upon landing we were greeted by the infamous humidity of Korea, and honestly I think that was a small taste of the potential Korea has to make your hair curl and become a bird's nest of massive proportions. It was pretty simple getting through immigration and on toward baggage claim. I have to say Incheon International Airport has the FASTEST plane to claim I have ever encountered. It was absolutely fantastic.

Upon making our way to the exit gates and toward the EPIK desk we did our sim card buying for immediate access to the technology we have come to so dependent on.  At the EPIK desk you get a little packet of the immediate schedule along with a map on how to find the EPIK desk at the airport, which you had to already be at to get said packet...yeah. Everyone was excited as we boarded the bus to Jeonju University for orientation, that is until we learned it would be an additional three and half hours to there. At least we had a rest stop, which was a brief twenty minutes which allowed for a restroom break and a bag of chips (which couldn't be brought back on the bus, and were sadly trashed half full.)

We finally arrived at the university around 9:30 pm and made our zombie way up to our rooms. The beds are cinder blocks and the pillows are bricks, but it is not an airplane or bus seat, so it does the trick. I managed to only get about four and half hours of sleep, because my body is evil. I couldn't actually fall asleep until 1 am (even though I hadn't slept the entire way from New York)  and of course I woke up at 5:30 am, because that makes so much sense when you hadn't slept for over thirty hours. But I digress.

On Wednesday we made our way to a surprising good breakfast, and then a tour of the campus so we would have an idea of where we were going for lectures and whatnot. And of course there was a nice damp humidity the entire time. My first convenience store purchase ended up being hair spray. Eventually it was time for the opening ceremony and it wasn't not as dry as I was expecting. The speakers were cordial, brief, and refreshingly funny. Then there was the Jeonju University Taekwondo team. They were absolutely spectacular. There were synchronized forms put into dances as well as flips, kicks, and tricks, and then the  amazing board breaking skills.

After this we had a class meeting and learned the do's and don'ts of orientation and found out about our lesson demonstration. This is a work in progress of course and I will update on it along the way. If I remember that is...

So on to today, Thursday, the real start of orientation. Yesterday was an easy day, a day to get over jet lag. A day where I ended up in bed by 9 pm and out cold. Today we had the medical check up. It involves having pretty much everything looked at: height, weight, eyes, hearing, blood pressure, blood test, x-ray, and urine test. All of this done without breakfast so the results are nice and clear and we are nice and starving. It wasn't awful, but it just involved a fair bit of waiting that could have been better used for eating.

After the medical tests we had a very welcomed lunch (which they kindly made earlier so we wouldn't start dropping like flies). Then the lectures started. Today we had two. My class (class 3) saw the lecture on Elementary School Curriculum and English Comprehension, and admittedly, much like the open ceremony, they were much better than I expected. The lecturers are very personable and friendly. I really have to hand it to EPIK for bringing together a great group of people that give good and much needed insight into what to expect and how to be prepared for what we'll encounter in the real world.

After dinner we were divided into our "Survival Korean" classes. There are the much larger beginner classes and smaller advanced classes. I, of course, fall into the beginner class despite my efforts to learn a thing or two. I am at the point I can (slowly) read hangul (the Korean alphabet) and I know a number of words, but I can only form maybe five sentences, but it's better than nothing. Today ended up being really simple stuff, which ended up being the five sentences I know. So I felt advanced, but of course tomorrow is another day.

So that's what I've been up to for the past three-ish days (it gets wonky because of time changes so the -ish is necessary). I am not going to proofread this now, as I am falling victim to jet lag at the moment, but expect edits here and there when I have a functioning brain to do so.

On a side note, feel free to ask any questions and I will do my best to answer them.

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