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less than a month until departure

27 days to go!

I’m kind of freaking out because my fingerprints were rejected by the FBI for being “too messy”. They recommend I get them digitally scanned since there’s less room for error, but I’m not really sure how to do that since I have to print them on a specific fingerprint card. I reached out to some people in my Korea cohort to see what they did and I got responses within minutes! Many used an FBI channeler, which usually costs around ~$50. I think I might just spend the money and go the same route considering the free way did not totally work out for me :/ Using an FBI Channeler would be faster and also more secure.

I also still need to fill out IRS Form 8802. A lot of people in my cohort have been having issues with understanding it and filling it out. Someone in our group posted this guide to completing it. It goes into a lot of details and de-mystifies it a bit. Better finish that up soon…

I still haven’t applied for my visa yet (I know, there’s been a lot going on, ok?) so hopefully I can do that this Monday. Last time I applied for a Visa at the Korean Embassy in NYC it was pretty simple and I received it about a week later, so I’m not too concerned?

And the biggest, most daunting thing is to finish my 120 hour TEFL course in time before I leave! I only just started Unit 3 and it’s 20 units!

Yeah… you could say I really have my work cut out for me…

Aaaaaand I haven’t even started packing yet

What is the South Korea Fulbright ETA?

Taken from the 2019-2020 South Korea ETA Handbook:


“In 1992, the Fulbright Korea English Teaching Assistant Program began with the arrival of eight U.S. citizens in South Korea to teach English. Fulbright Korea’s ETA program has grown tremendously since then; today, it is benchmarked as the “Gold Standard” among all ETA programs worldwide by the U.S. State Department. The program is the largest among all Fulbright Commissions, boasting nearly 1,400 program participants since its founding. It is highly regarded for its innovative training, unmatched program benefits, and access to the Fulbright Korea alumni network, which consists of more than 6,500 American and Korean scholars, researchers, and specialists. Currently, the Korean-American Educational Commission (KAEC), Korean Ministry of Education, and U.S. Institute of International Education jointly organize, select, and develop the guidelines for the program.

The Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) program grants American college graduates teaching positions in elementary and secondary schools across South Korea. ETAs typically teach classes from late August to mid-July, as well as supplementary classes which may or may not be held during winter vacation. ETAs are cultural ambassadors, and are therefore encouraged to take advantage of the many opportunities available to learn more about South Korean culture, in addition to sharing their own culture.

To help ETAs adjust to life in South Korea and prepare for the challenges of working and teaching in a Korean school, as well as living in a new cultural environment, the KAEC holds an intensive
Orientation training program each summer for new ETAs. At the end of this Orientation period, ETAs move to their respective placements and teaching assignments. All first-year ETAs will be
placed in homestays. Homestay experiences are a vital part of the grant year as they provide an immersive and engaging environment in which to better learn about Korean culture, customs, and language, while ETAs acclimate to life in South Korea. Grantees should not accept this grant unless they are ready to live in a Korean homestay.

To continue supporting ETAs during the grant year, Fulbright holds two conferences in the fall and spring. Past conferences were held in Gyeongju (located on the mainland) and in Seogwipo (located on Jeju Island). The conferences are forums to share teaching ideas, work through teaching challenges, and hear from guest speakers. The conferences are also opportunities for ETAs to build their social networks, discuss life in Korea and next steps as young professionals.”

Orientation site revealed!

A few days ago we got our 2019-2020 Korea ETA handbook! It’s like 60 pages long and it’s filled with all the answers I could’ve asked for!

When I saw it in my email, the first thing I did was scroll all the way down to where the orientation information was. It looks like I’ll be staying at Yonsei’s Incheon campus for my first six weeks! I’ve actually been to Incheon before and visited the boardwalks on the water there. Not to mention Incheon is where I’ll be flying into, so I’ll have a pretty short bus ride from the airport to our orientation site! If I remember correctly, Incheon is about an hour away from Seoul via subway so hopefully I’ll be able to sneak into Seoul one weekend!

I also found two other South Korea ETA Fulbrighters in my cohort that are going to be on the same flight as me! Hopefully I’ll get to know them a bit during the 14+ hour flight. Each day, leaving becomes more and more tangible.

blue skies

Back when I was in Korea in 2017, bright blue skies were what I missed most about America.

Today in New Jersey, the sky was so blue with beautiful wispy white clouds. While driving through my town, I made sure to commit every image to memory and pack it up in my America memory bank. I’m trying to soak in as much of my country as I can before leaving. I made sure to pay extra attention to the shining glimmers on the lake by my house today. I memorized the colors of the flowers in our garden.

Yesterday I officially got my flight information! I’m taking a non-stop flight on Korean Air and arriving in Incheon at 4:20 AM. Apparently, we’re all meeting at the airport at 5 AM to take a bus to our orientation site, which is still TBA. This trip is becoming more and more tangible with each passing day, and I’m really starting to feel like I’m leaving.

It’s bittersweet. I love my life here because this is my home. It’s hard imagining an entire year without my friends, family, and community where I have a place. Still, I’m looking forward to forging my new path in Korea, and creating my new home with a new family.

My first post!

(I’m really jamming to this song rn)

I’m going to try SUPER hard to keep this blog maintained while I’m in Korea.

Not Fulbright or Korea related, but I figured I should get used to writing my thoughts down either way so I’m going to talk about graduating!

Yesterday I graduated Ramapo and everyone keeps asking me how I feel. Is it bad that it hasn’t really hit me yet? I had a bit of an anti-climactic end to the semester. Because I was student teaching, I was only really there once a month to meet with my teaching cohort. And not to mention, this is the first time ever that I had absolutely zero finals. So going to graduation just felt a bit… strange. Part of me feels like I already left Ramapo a while ago.

A lot of big things are changing, and for once I’m kind of just enjoying the ride. I definitely have my work cut out for me in completing all my docs and forms for Fulbright (which I’m honestly falling behind on). Tomorrow is my graduation party and I promised myself that after that, I’ll register for the TESOL course and get my fingerprints done for the FBI background check. Honestly, it’s kind of hard to feel like I “graduated” when I still have a pile of work to do…

Maybe it’ll hit me later. For now, I’m going to try to make posts at least once a week. Hopefully that carries on throughout my time in Korea!

A personal journal and gallery of my 2019-2020 South Korea Fulbright ETA experience!

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OnePaigeAtATime is not an official site of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of Paige Timmerman and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State, or any of its partner organizations.

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