7,000 miles near

Student Questions

During my first week of teaching, I gave an introductory presentation about myself to each middle school class that I will be teaching this year.  I included information about my family, friends, interests, hobbies, etc…  At the end of the presentation, I opened up the discussion for questions.  Here are the most common questions I received…

1.  How old are you?

2.  Do you have a boyfriend?

3.  Is your hair naturally that color?

4.  Did you have eyelid surgery?

5.  How much do you weigh?

6.  How tall are you?

7.  What’s your blood type?

New Foods I’ve Tried…

-  Raw liver

-  Fermented (some may say rotten) fish

-  Cow’s blood soup

-  Live octopus tentacles

Packing for Korea: By The Numbers…

No doubt - it was diffcult to consolidate posessions and pack (what felt like my life) into two suitcases and a backpack, but at the same time, it was incredibly freeing.  Purguing, donating, and unloading my “stuff,” had an incredible pay off: the feeling of unrestraint, independence, and license to do as I want.  It’s remarkably easy to become bound by posessions, and right now, I am happy to have few.

So here was my packing experience - by the numbers. I brought two checked suitcases and carried on one backpack.  My first suitcase, the larger of the two measured 27”H x 18”W x 9 1/2”D, my second suitcase, the smaller, measured 21”H x 14”W x 8 1/2”D, and my backpack measured 19”H x 13” W x 7” D. Meaning, I had a total of 8845 cubic inches (approximately 5 cubic feet).

As far as weight is concerned, my larger suitcase weighed in at 48.5 lbs and the smaller suitcase at 38 lbs.

The suitcases held…

6 pairs of shoes

5 pairs of jeans

1 pair of sweatpants

1 pair of pj pants

3 coats

3 sweatshirts

11 skirts

8 dresses

3 t-shirts

11 cardigans / sweaters

20 shirts

7 books

1 computer

3 scarves

1 bath towel

2 hand towels

digital camera

hat / gloves



minimal toiletries


hair straightener

presents for my co-teachers

a variety of other random odds and ends

…. and a partridge in a pear tree

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What I’m doing in South Korea…

In early January of 2010, I received word that I was accepted into EPIK (http://www.epik.go.kr/). EPIK, the English Program in Korea, was established in 1995 with the goal of improving the English speaking abilities of students and teachers in Korea and fostering cultural exchange.

As an EPIK participant, I will be placed and work in a public school for one calendar year; my contract states specifically February 26, 2010 to February 25, 2011. As a GET (Guest English Teacher), I will work in conjunction with a Korean English teacher and take on traditional teaching responsibilities: conduct English classes for students, prepare language materials, assist with extracurricular activities, etc…

A number of criteria were required in order to be eligible for the position:

  • Be a citizen of a country where English is the primary language (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, or South Africa)
  • Hold a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university (any field of study)
  • Be a maximum of 55 years of age
  • Mentally and physically healthy
  • Have a good command of the English language
  • Have the ability and willingness to adapt to Korean culture and living

I began considering and researching teaching abroad as an option in July of 2009 and formally pursuing the application process in October of the same year. As additional preparation, I decided to take an online TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) course through BridgeTEFL. Included with the course was placement assistance, which was a true blessing. Acting as a liaison, BridgeTEFL provided invaluable placement assistance (shoutout to Matt and Katy from BridgeTEFL – THANK YOU!).

During this process, I worried and I waited and I got excited and I wondered and I waited and I began learning Korean and I read and I researched and I looked at pictures online and I talked to friends and I waited, and then my contract and NOA (notice of appointment) came, and it become real, and the pace was a whirlwind.  I received my contract Monday, January 25, 2010… on Tuesday I bought my plane ticket, on Wednesday I drove to Chicago to apply for my E-2 visa, on Thursday I formally resigned from my position as Membership Program Manager at the Contemporary Arts Center, and on Friday the movers were are my apartment.

I have 15 days before I leave, and I’m sure that time will be filled with packing, seeing friends and family, intensely feeling butterflies of excitement and nerves in my stomach, and thinking about the year to come.