EPIK Recruitment Agencies

Korvia Consulting is and has been one of the most reputable recruiting agencies for US citizens. They are based in Seoul and provide one-on-one guidance throughout the entire application process. Their website is extremely resourceful and thorough, so if you’re not completely aware of all the program details or you have some questions, I suggest reading through their FAQ pages. As you can probably see, there are a lot of pros to working with Korvia; however, as someone who has worked with Korvia and spoken to other EPIK teachers, there are some things I would consider:

  • Response time can be a little lengthier during peak hours or the month of EPIK placements. In all honesty, Korvia would always get back to me within a few days during this time, but when you’re racing the clock and you have questions about documents you need to submit asap, it can seem like you’re missing your window.
  • Popularity = Competition? I’m not saying that Korvia won’t guide you to success, but considering the large amount of applicants they hand hold each hiring season, I would think that a lot of their candidates don’t make it to the final cut. Whereas, one of the other recruiting agencies or an independent recruiter with less applicants, will have the capacity to provide more individual attention to each applicant and would probably have more impetus to push their candidates through the pipeline as efficiently as possible, as their reputation depends on it. In my personal experience, Korvia was great and well, I got placed, but it was a long arduous process. But after speaking with other teachers, I learned that their recruiter pushed them through the pipeline much faster, in fact, my next door neighbor went through a much different process. It took her about 2 weeks after she applied and well, it took me half a year. In my opinion, Korvia is just more thorough as they try to hire the best of the best, but had I known there was an easier route, that went by the name of Jimmy, I would have taken it.

EPIK puts out an official list of recruiting partners each year; however, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other independent recruiters working behind the scenes to place other qualified applicants. Here is the official list:

  1. Korvia Consulting (Korea)
  2. ESL Consulting (Korea)
  3. Reach to Teach (USA)
  4. Oxford Edication (Korea)
  5. Korean Horizons (Korea)
  6. HandsKorea (Korea)
  7. Canadian Connection (Canada)
  8. Korea Immigration Recruiting Service (Korea)
  9. Goldkey Education (South Africa)

Why Choose Jeju Island (제주도)

IMG_0686

  1. Jeju, “Island of the Gods” is known for it’s lush green landscapes, 368 oreums (hilly volcanic formations), waterfalls, lava caves, green tea plantations, oranges, and fresh clean air. After a lot of research and discussion with my recruiter, we thought that Jeju would be the place for achieving my thirst for an outdoor, recreational, and adventurous lifestyle. There would be plenty of olle trails for me to hike and beautiful beaches to run along. I wouldn’t get bogged down by the social drinking scene and I could achieve my physical and athletic goals.
  2. Weather conditions in South Korea in general aren’t ideal. In January, it can get as cold as 6.8 °F (−14.0 °C) and in August, it can get as hot as 99.1 °F (37.3 °C). Considering I’m a Californian, that sounds awful. The real problem is the humidity. Korea is incredibly humid, that even if it’s a nice 76 °F outside, you could be pouring sweat. Which leads me to my second reason for picking Jeju… it’s an island, so they’ll get the nice breeze (little did I know they were also popular for their terribly dangerous windstorms). Nonetheless, Jeju was known for having slightly better temperatures in the hot humid summers.
  3. Everything I read online suggested that the cost of living on Jeju would be cheaper than mainland. Not only is housing more affordable (400 KRW – 700 KRW for an average studio – 1 bed apt) but pescatarian food would be more available and comparatively inexpensive since the island was surrounded by sea life.
  4. Lastly, I knew I would want to travel Korea quite a bit and I learned that the best placements for a wanderlust would either be Daejeon or Jeju. Daejeon is at the center of mainland, so public trains would be accessible and it would only take an hour to get to Seoul and a little over an hour to get to Busan. The problem was traveling to Jeju Island from Daejeon. Roundtrips from mainland to Jeju ranged an average of 100 KRW – 300 KRW depending on the season, while traveling from Jeju Island to anywhere on mainland was quite inexpensive, where you could find rates as low as 40 KRW for a roundtrip. What’s easier traveling an hour by train or by plane at a fraction of the time and cost?

LAX

My mother and sister sending me off to Korea at LAX Airport was surreal. We said our goodbyes over and over and they watched as I went up the escalator and waved them a final goodbye. As soon as I got through the security check, I felt my heart beat triple. I felt off balance and I was losing my senses. I remember stumbling into the first restroom after security. I had no idea what was going on with me, but I felt a huge rush of anxiety fall upon me and I was struggling to breathe. Moments later, I realized I was probably having what people would call a mild panic attack. After reciting prayers and focusing on my breath, I felt the nervousness in my stomach begin to settle. I had to hear myself say out loud, over and over again, “You can do this.” Once I pulled myself together, I took a snap before leaving the women’s restroom.

New EPIK Teacher: What to Pack?

What to pack when you’re gonna be gone for a year? If you are a new EPIK teacher, here are some things I would definitely pack:

ELECTRONIC RECOMMENDATIONS

  • 8 GB usb (for lesson plans & teaching aides)
  • external hard drive (personal documents and photos)
  • power bank (a must for travelers)
  • laptop (make sure it is not MAC as they are not compatible with any Korean CD-ROMs or online CD formats)
  • adapters & a converter (you can buy these in Korea too, but it doesn’t hurt to have them just in case you get a rural placement & have no idea where the nearest market is located)
  • pocket flashlight (blackouts/emergencies)

MEDICINAL RECOMMENDATIONS

  • mosquito net (this is a hard find in Korea; better to buy one before you leave your home country–you may need it your first night if you’re arriving anytime other than winter)
  • rubbing alcohol (help reduces  mosquito bites immediately–worked better for me than any cream or ointment)
  • mosquito repellent (I would invest in some citrus candle repellents before you arrive in Korea. Also, the Korean supermarket “Lotte Mart” carries repellent that you can plug into an outlet. These are by far the most effective!)
  • any medicine you are already taking (medicine in Korea is often considered much weaker than the medicine in the USA, so if you’re life depends on it, bring your prescriptions and year supply of medicine)
  • Inhaler (if you are asthmatic, the humidity may irritate your lungs, so pack your inhaler if you have one; you can also get an inhaler for very cheap at a doctors visit, as health care in Korea is extremely inexpensive)

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS

  • workout clothes (clothes are generally expensive in Korea, especially fitness apparel)
  • full body towel (Korea’s equivalent of a full body towel will leave you feeling bare and cold, so bring a fluffy full body towel because if even if you’re lucky enough to find one in Korea, you’ll be paying a ridiculous amount for it)
  • rain boots (unless you live in Seoul, it might be a little difficult to find a decent pair of fashionable rain boots. The large shopping markets don’t carry them on Jeju. Also, if you are a size 7 in women’s shoes (USA) or larger, don’t expect to buy shoes in Korea as most Korean women have smaller shoe sizes.
  • photos of the people you’ll miss (this is self-explanatory)
  • gifts (bring something native to your hometown that you can share with your coteachers, principal, vice principal, better yet, the whole staff. I’m not kidding– this is important for a good first impression at your schools) *I’ll do another post with good and bad gift ideas for making a good impression.

iSPA food 🥘 yes please!

iSpa is a Korean traditional day spa located in Irvine, CA.  The facility is clean and well-maintained. I recommend the Jimjilbang+Sauna ($25) for those who would like to sweat off some calories in the saunas, relax in the heated mineral pools, and then take a nap in the jimjilbang. For only $25 I think the experience is worth it.

If you’ve never been to a Korean Traditional Spa. There are several things you’ll need to know.

1. The wet area is nude only. Yes, get over it.

2. They provide each patron 1 pair of shorts and a shirt that you must wear in the common area (aka Jimjilbang)

3. Don’t bring a towel, you’ll be given a couple of towels at the front desk. Make sure you save one in your locker for the showers, unless, you want to dry off with a sweaty towel.

4. There are 2 sets of lockers. The first one is small and they’re only for your shoes. The second one is the large one for your belongings and clothes.

5. Anything you wish to purchase during your stay will be charged to the wristband locker key that you should wear at all times (trust me, it’s easy to lose, so don’t take it off)

6. If you get a body scrub, massage, facial, or any other spa service make sure to bring cash for tip. Yes, most places will give you an envelope for your tip.

7. Don’t bother bringing slippers, they won’t allow it.

8. Make sure to shower every time before you get into the pools. Yes, that’s every time, so if you shower then go to the pools, then go to the saunas, you should shower again before you get back into the pools.

9. Yes, they speak English.

http://www.irvinespa.com/

EPIK Interview Questions

​Top 5 EPIK Interview Questions and Tips
1. Why have you chosen to pursue a teaching job in Korea?
The emphasis here is why you would make a good EFL teacher and why, specifically, a teacher in Korea?
2. Why do you prefer to teach in [province/region]?
If you selected one on your application, they more than likely will ask you why you are requesting to be placed in that location.
3. What grade/age group would you prefer to teach? Why?
The key here is your understanding of Korean students and the characteristics of the grade/age groups you wish to teach.
4. How do you intend to adapt to the differences between your country and Korea?
Acknowledge the cultural differences and similarities. The more you are aware of, the better. This is a good opportunity to demonstrate your understanding and interest in Korean culture.
5. How will you handle classes that consist of students with varied English skills and capabilities?
For this question, you’ll want to pull from your TEFL training or experience. Discuss a couple strategies you would implement in a classroom, such as: classroom arrangement, pair work, group work, and scaffolding techniques.

EPIK Hiring Process

When I started this process, I thought the hardest part was going to be the application and interview–basically, getting accepted into the EPIK Program. It turns out, the hardest part actually comes after you get your acceptance. It’s being able to obtain and mail all your documents within a short window. Even if EPIK formally extends you an offer of acceptance, it doesn’t mean you have a job. Why? Because you can’t officially be placed at a school until they physically have all your documents. Every year, EPIK seems to accept more teachers than there are positions, because it’s expected that many teachers fall out of the hiring process. This is what makes the hiring process “competitive.” The only way to secure your placement at a school is to submit your documents immediately after you accept the EPIK job offer. Now, it doesn’t mean you hastily submit your documents without thoroughly reviewing them. One mistake in your application or 1 missing business card, could delay your placement for weeks. My advice: be extremely tedious with everything and when in doubt, always ask questions.