Arrival to Seoul: English Program in Korea

paige miller stranger things English Program in KoreaWith a passion for teaching and no definite plans after graduation, Paige Miller embarked on a journey to become an English teacher in South Korea. She began her application on August 2018 through the EPIK (English Program in Korea) program. She was accepted in December and flew to Seoul in February.

Paige has been teaching in Seoul, South Korea for about six months now. She has been instructing students in the English language at Seoul Dongho Elementary school. If you missed her last article, check it out about her pre-departure to teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. Keep reading to figure out how she’s been adjusting and what her first couple of months have been like.

Why did you choose to teach in South Korea with EPIK compared to other countries that offer similar programs?

“One of the reasons I chose Korea was that, for the longest time, I’d been dying to travel to Korea. During undergrad, there was no room for me to study abroad. Going to Korea did not fit into my major. The idea of going to a country I’d been interested in forever as well as working in a field I enjoyed was a win-win.”

Why did you choose to work with EPIK specifically?

“I chose EPIK specifically because they gave me a sense of security. This was my first time going out of the country by myself. I was extra cautious about applying through any random job listing. English Program in Korea made me feel at ease. They are super involved in the process of matching teachers with schools and giving them apartments to live in during their contract. Also, the accommodations and training they provide were definitely a huge plus.”

What kinds of services does EPIK provide? (What is the company mission, etc.)

“First, EPIK provides you with a one-time settlement allowance. This is money to help adjust to moving to a foreign country. Next, the MOE/POE (district office) you are signed under provides a leased apartment. The rent is provided, however, the utilities and maintenance fees are the responsibility of the teachers. They also provide severance pay for when you complete your contract. Entrance Allowance and an Exit Allowance are for when you are coming into the country and for when you officially leave.

Depending on what region you’re in, you can receive a contract completion bonus. You can accept a renewal bonus (unless you’re in Seoul) at the completion of each contract. As far as medical insurance goes, your MOE/POE covers 50% of your premiums. Lastly, they host an orientation with resources and tips to adjust to teaching and life in Korea.”

Did you have to pay for EPIK services or are they paying you?

“For the most part, EPIK pays for most services for you. Teachers have to pay utilities and maintenance fees for apartments. They also have to pay for transportation to and from school. Furthermore, they have to pay for any extra travel they wish to partake in.”

How involved is EPIK in helping you prepare for teaching abroad? Did they help you land an interview or get placed in a school; was housing and assistance acclimating to Korea provided; will you be staying in accommodations provided by EPIK when you first arrive?

teaching english abroad

“EPIK was the program that I initially interviewed with, instead of the school. They were the ones to send out my application and paperwork to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education. From there, the SMOE looked over my information and had the option to either pick me to be under them directly or, to send my information back to EPIK. If the SMOE had rejected my paperwork, EPIK would send it to a different Office of Education.

As far as housing goes, EPIK only provides a settlement allowance to help get settled into the new space. The SMOE chose my living space and they pay for the rent. The only living accommodations EPIK actually provides is during New Teacher Orientation.”

South Korea classroom English Program in KoreaWhat are your immediate accommodations upon arrival?

“I arrived a few days before orientation, so as a result, I was responsible for my own accommodations. During orientation, EPIK provides dorm rooms for teachers.”

Is your orientation directly through EPIK or do they leave orientation up to the school you are placed in?

“Orientation is directly through EPIK.”

How long will you be teaching abroad?

“Each contract through the English Program in Korea is minimum one year abroad. After that, you can choose to renew towards the end of your contract term. Right now, I intend to stay for two years and have already re-signed.”

walking dwontown in korea

Teaching English Program in Korea

walk around korea

Pre-Departure Teaching English in Seoul, South Korea

by Zoe Ezechiels

Paige MillerPaige Miller recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology from Florida State University in August of 2018. While at the university, Paige was an active part of the Hallyu Wave Club (the Korean pop culture club) and the Korean American Student Association. She participated in learning and performing k-pop dances, some of which include “Bboom Bboom” by Momoland and “Mic Drop (remix)” by BTS and Steve Aoki.

Because of her interests in both Korean culture and teaching, Paige decided on teaching English in Korea after graduation. In February 2019, she began to teach in Seoul, South Korea at Seoul Dongho Elementary School. Keep reading to find out her initial process and how to apply to the same EPIK program Paige did.

How long have you known that you wanted to teach in Korea?

“I have been interested in Korean culture since I was in high school. However, it wasn’t until my junior year of college when I found out about the job opportunity from a family friend who had previously studied abroad. After further research and a burst of courage, I started to pursue teaching in Korea in my senior year of college.”

What is EPIK? (Are they a recruiter for foreign English teachers in Korea?)

Teaching in Korea“Firstly, EPIK is an acronym that stands for the English Program in Korea. Essentially, they are a government program that seeks to improve the English-speaking abilities of students while also facilitating cultural exchange between the students and English teachers. So while EPIK is not exactly a recruiter, I did use a recruiter called Korean Horizons to help facilitate my application to the program.”

Where were you placed and what type of school will you be teaching in?

“As of now, I only know that I have been placed in Seoul. EPIK will not alert me of my exact school location until the last day of our new student orientation on February 27.”

How was the passport process when you were updating or applying for one?

“I received my passport in January of 2018. I had to apply in-person and receive a new one. This was because I hadn’t updated it since I was a toddler. The overall process was pretty easy. I showed up with an old passport, a money order, and a passport-sized photo in hand. I completed a passport form at the approved location. From there, they sent it off to the U.S Department of State and I received my new passport less than a month later.”

How was the visa process to begin teaching English in Korea? Did EPIK help you apply for a visa?

EPIK teaching English in Korea

“For the visa process, as throughout the entire overall process in applying and receiving the teaching job, my recruiter with Korean Horizons helped facilitate it. Once the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education approved my position under EPIK, they sent my contract and my notice of agreement certificate to my recruiter. He then mailed these to me, alongside a visa application form. Upon arrival, I signed my contract, filled out the application with an attached a passport picture, my passport, a return envelope, and a $45 money order before mailing it to the Korean Consulate in Atlanta, Georgia. I received my passport back with the visa less than a week later.”

Did you need to get an apostille for your diploma? If so, how was that process?

flying to korea“I was required to get an apostille for my diploma. I filled out another application form as well as a criminal background check before sending my diploma to the Secretary of State to have it both notarized and receive an apostille.”

How far in advance did you book your plane ticket?

“After I received my visa, I booked my ticket two weeks before I left. It didn’t fully hit me that I was leaving for Korea until a few days before I left. That’s when I started to pack and get everything ready to begin the adventure of teaching English in Korea.”

What are you most looking forward to when you arrive and begin teaching?

“I am most looking forward to finally knowing what school I will be teaching in. I can’t wait to begin building a good relationship with my students. I’m excited to go to concerts of artists I’ve been following since I was back in America. Plus, I can’t wait to go on trips around Korea and other parts of Asia!”

food on flight to korea