EPIK – The English Program in Korea – has a stringent and lengthy application process for candidates hoping to land a teaching job in South Korea. They advise to start applying some six months prior to your intended arrival in the country. I left it a little bit later than that…
I often wonder what it would be like to have a soundtrack to my life. Think about it, if you could choose a song that summed up your standard day-to-day existence, what would it be? It’s nigh on impossible to pick a needle from the haystack.
However, 80s band Europe have a number that aptly puts things in a nutshell for me. You know what I’m talking about; The Final Countdown.
Whenever something needs done, you can be damn sure I can think of any other time but the present. I am the master of procrastination, having it off to a fine art at this stage. Even if I begin a task early, the universe will conspire against my will to ensure it goes down to the wire.
While some may suggest the hard living of my early 20s damaged my get-up-and-go button, truth be told the chilled factor has always been there.
The scar on my forehead is the result of my toddler-self running into the side edge of a rapidly-closing door. I’m told it was from chasing my brother, but perhaps I was just seeing how late I could leave it to walk into the room.
An old high school French teacher once said if I was any more laid-back I’d fall on my ass. She was probably right but as I coasted through with high grades, I failed to see any red flags through the flying colors.
Unfortunately my free-running academic nonchalance didn’t transfer so smoothly to the adult world. As time rolled on, the hill of life got steeper and I discovered I actually needed to take my hands out of my pockets.
But, to this the day, I like to tell myself I work better under pressure.
Ergo, why apply to EPIK early when you can leave it to the day before the deadline, a mere 20 days before Orientation starts?
Why take months to gather documents when you can do several day-long trips to Dublin and back within a fortnight? Why get your documents authorized with apostilles in good time when you can pay extra for express courier fees?
When I threw my name in the hat for EPIK, I was ever-so-close to going to China. I had been offered several positions hot on the heels of brief Skype interviews.
My initial attempts to land a job in Korea using a recruiter fell through. I was all too honest with my tattoo photographs, much to my downfall. I was beginning to think my travelling days had come to an end, fearing I would slip into a life I felt very detached from.
At that point I thought China was my only option. I had just chanced upon the EPIK website at the final hour and sent an application with little expectation.
To apply so late and get a position just seemed like a sign. An opportunity not to be missed.
As a wise old man said, “Well, there’s nothing like trying to make a deadline.”
That wise old man happened to be my Da – that’s ‘father’ for those unfamiliar with Irish language. And when I say Irish language, I don’t mean Gaeilge, instead I’m referring to the great re-modification job we have done to the clunky English vocabulary.
So, with some help from my amazing parents and a frantic fortnight gathering documents, I found myself on the verge of the next chapter with EPIK.
The required documents had been lassoed, stamped, sealed and were currently in transit, somewhere amidst the clouds.
Although given the thumbs up from my EPIK co-coordinator, final confirmation of my place was on ice. Nothing was sure until the hard-copy documents were in the hands of the right people.
I needed to be in Korea for EPIK orientation in four short days. However, I still had no flight booked and if everything fell through, I risked missing out on the Chinese offers.
Once again, I found the beads of sweat on my brow as the clock ticked ever-faster.
It seemed that Royal Mail’s international post was on slow-motion, or perhaps the plane had been hi-jacked by dragons somewhere above China.
As I set off for the airport a few days later, I still had no idea whether my place with EPIK was confirmed and my documents were apparently still somewhere in the sky!
If I closed my eyes I could hear Europe playing that riff…..