EPIK Orientation: Day One

Day One:

The first day of orientation was relatively light. It was generous because people were still recovering from jet lag and the new stimulus. Like the first week of college, a bunch of new people are plopped into a new place and where mingling naturally takes place. I can easily strike up a conversation with just about anyone without being creepy. Seven English-speaking countries are represented here. Even with the different backgrounds and personalities, everybody is friendly and enthusiastic about teaching in Korea.

After breakfast, we took a tour of Jeonju University to familiarize ourselves with the locations of future events. The weather was excruciatingly hot and humid with a depressing overcast sky. We basked in the air conditioned rooms when we were able to find one. The campus is a pretty comparable to a campus in America and the buildings and classrooms are very modern.

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Later, we went into an auditorium for the opening ceremony. The drum performance was great, but not the best I’ve seen! The highlight of the ceremony was the taekwondo performance. First, the group performed a k-pop and taekwondo fusion dance with sharp kicks and waving hips. The performance escalated with impossibly difficult jumps, breaking several wooden boards at a time. I guess it is difficult to explain how incredible the performance was in words. It is truly a must-see! There was also an interesting lecture highlighting Korean history and culture. Not only was it informative and well delivered, but it was also hilarious.

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The night ended with a welcoming dinner of an endless buffet of various Asian foods. I was going to meet a friend downstairs for ice cream, but low and behold I find my Appa waiting for me, smoking a cigarette to pass the time. I tried explaining to him that I am waiting for a friend and I cannot leave until I see her, but alas, the language barrier made communication impossible. He made me explain myself to one of the lecturers so he can translate it into Korean.

Everything all worked out in the end. I went with Appa to the arcade that he owns to find Omma waiting for me. We sat on the floor of the office eating cookies and giggling. Teenagers came in and out of the game room to belt out a few songs in the coin karaoke room. Appa’s friend came by and we eventually went out to a restaurant. Dr. Kwan, a very kind engineering professor, knows a good amount of English; I really enjoyed our conversations and his insight. We went to Lotte Mart afterward because Appa wanted to buy me things (what else is new). He doesn’t take no for an answer. Dr. Kwan explained that Korean parents give everything to their children. My father “missed out” on giving me things while I was a child, so he wants to give me the world now. It is difficult for me to understand. All I need is my birth family’s presence and love, not a pile of expensive items. I came back to dormitory with some fruit, snacks, tea and cute chopsticks.

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