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how difficult is EPIK?
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Joined: 18 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 6:49 pm    Post subject: how difficult is EPIK? Reply with quote

I have several questions for any current or past EPIK participants....
Just curious, aside from all the administrative bullcrap one must put up with on the EPIK program, how difficult is the actual day-to-day TEACHING aspect of the job and treatment by fellow teachers and staff at your school? Surprisingly, this seems like an area were fewer people raise complaints on this board....

How are the students in public schools different from hagwons, aside from larger classes? Less spoiled I'm sure, but I also imagine the whole public school environment in itself creats a whole new set of problems...How do you conduct your classes in a typical fashion? Do you use many handouts? Group discussions? Pairwork? Written work? Games? Free speaking? Homework? How are the students in their courage to communicate freely and not be afraid of making mistakes, as this is one of the most important aspects of learning a new language? How much of emphasis to your schools place on you teaching grammer? What about vocab? How much time do you spend every night planning lessons? Do you repeat the same lessons often? Did you bring your own ESL resource books or did the school you work at provide them for you? Did the school you work at set any sort of guidelines for you in terms of what they wanted you to teach or did they just 'throw you to the wolves' and say "here, you teach English..." (similar to a hagwon environment) from day one? How much to your Korean co-teachers contribute to your lessons and your power over the class in general? What about discipline issues? How often do they arise in your class and how do you handle them?How difficult of a time do you have controlling the class? Do you find the students hold very little respect for you because of your 'foreigner' status? ...By the way, can you recommend any good books that have worked well for you specifically for public school teaching in Korea? Have any of you taught public in the U.S./Canada (I did last year -7th grade -very trying) ? If so, can you make a comparison between Korean and N. American students? How do you think a relatively inexperienced (less than a full year) ESL teacher would fare in a typical public class? I have taught ESL in the past but never in Korea public school, mainly with more boisterous students from Italy and Venezula who were not afriad to speak their minds and sometimes got very rowdy and disrespectful in class (sleeping, name calling, etc.) That coupled with my Jr. High experience makes me feel a little more prepared than some for teaching in EPIK

The EPIK recruitment is being very vague on these issues and am not sure of the best way to prepare for my first Korean public school classroom (I have been accepted to this year's program)....

Thank you
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Mody Ba

Joined: 22 May 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 7:10 pm    Post subject: Adventureman,Like Chill,Dude Reply with quote

You are worrying 'way.'way too much.Although,I am happy to see you are at least concerned.Some of their'teachers' do not even pretend to care.
The EPIK admin is being vague because a. they really do not know themselves.and(b) conditions can vary widely from POE to POE.
This is why they should have more (or some,even)standardization in the program.I will not get off on that one..not now,anyway

It is really difficult to tell you how you will be treated by your fellow employees(Korean teachers,etc)...because of course they are people and like anywhere else,there are all kinds of people.
Personally(I can only give my personal experience) ,I have never had problems with the teachers, my school.Most of my problems have arisen with provincial bureaucrats.But then again,not even some of them are too bad.
Again,you are worrying way too much.Nobody can really tell you whatt to expect at your specific POE,because nobody knows.You will have to find out for yourself.But I would not worry too much about that one.Most of the problems are definitely administrative(not all of them,of course) and most of them can be laid directly at KNUE's door,the provincial doors,etc.

Again,do not worry so much.Like any other job,there will be bad days and good days.And you will be very confused at first.Just like everybody else.But after awhile,you get used to the confusion(well, more used to it,anyway). Chill out. Smile
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Joined: 18 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah I'm probably worrying a tad bit too much. I'm just a little paranoid of walking in the first day at my school and somebody ushering my into a classroom with forty students and saying "here, teach them something for the next two hours..." In fact I already went out a bought a lot of ESL grammar books/activity idea books and have started formulating lesson plans in my mind...

I just really want to do a good job for them and not be caught off-guard....
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Mody Ba

Joined: 22 May 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 7:26 pm    Post subject: For One Thing Reply with quote

You are supposed to always have a Korean teacher in the classroom with you.If there are discipline problems,etc. let the Korean teacher take care of it.
Some people some places might try to BS you and get you to teach on your not fall for it.If something happens while you are in there alone,you may very well take the fall.EPIK specifies that a Korean teacher should be in the classroom.If there is not one,walk out until they get you one or one appears.Do not be flexible on this one.
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Joined: 27 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 7:27 pm    Post subject: A Bit of Help Reply with quote

Here are a couple tips:
When I was an EPIK, I used communicative games a lot. I used overheads a lot. With the high number of students it's difficult to make a lot of handouts, but you can do this in a class set and re-collect the class set at the end of each class.
Korean students love to sing. Find folk pop songs that have pronunciation sounds or expressions you want to emphasize. Write out the words on an overhead for the students to sing along with.
For one lesson, you can plan several things- some pronunciation or an overhead picture for descriptions to begin with, then a structured communicative activity, then a song for the last 10-15 minutes to finish up.
The Korean co-teachers may try to tell you to focus on grammar- however, go easy on grammar and focus on communication. To collaborate with your Korean co-teachers you can take a grammar point they think is important, and then incorporate it into a drama activity or communicative game.
I developed my own set of materials. There are good bookstores with EFL materials in Seoul, such as Kim and Johnson's. This is over a period of time. Relax and prepare your curriculum over time as well- first you will be settling in to your school and meeting the students and teachers.
Korean students are usually more disciplined in the schools than N.A. schools (yes I am a North American teacher and speak from experience). You probably won't have the discipline problems in Korea that you did in the States.
When you first meet your students you can talk about people in your family, and then do some lesson work with them about their families/family vocabulary. They are curious about you. If they ask overly personal questions, just calmly say that in your culture that's not something usually asked and go on to the next point.
Above all, relax and enjoy the things you find positive in your school and community. Look for the positive. Take things one step at a time.
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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: South Korea

PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 7:41 pm    Post subject: Um Reply with quote

I write short conversation scripts of two pages. I have students read after me and then pairwork with it. Where I'm currently working pair work doesn't work.

I also write sentence patterns where students can finish off. I give sample endings. Where I currently work I have my students copy the sample endings as they are too lazy to try making their own.

Before I started where I'm currently working I worked at two high schools in Gwang-ju in Chollanamdo. There my students loved pair work and exercisers that required them to think. So if you prepare material that allows for both lazy students plus good students then you are in front no matter where they stick you. But remember that you can be teaching elementary, middle or high school kids so content has to change to suit their age group.

Sample short story.

Computer Playboy. Story by Andrew / Anda.
Jim: Hi Ted! Well are you going to invite me in?
Ted: Sure come on in!
Jim: What have you been doing today Ted?
Ted: Mainly chatting with some of my girlfriends!
Jim: Some! How many have you got?
Ted: About twenty at last count!
Jim: Twenty! A whole twenty girlfriends, youíre a playboy!
Ted: Yeah kind of, well at least on the computer I am!
Jim: Youíre not exactly handsome Ted. How come youíve got so many?
Ted: I lie a lot and I send them photos of my head stuck on bodies of
handsome men. If one tells me that she likes tall men then I stick
my tall blokeís body and if head on aanther wants a bloke about
five foot high then I stick my head on a short blokeís body, itís easy!
Jim: Why are you doing that for?
Ted: For fun of course!
Jim: I suppose it would be kinda fun!
Ted: Yeah itís great fun having girls tell you that youíre so handsome and
how much theyíd like to marry you and all that kind of stuff!
Jim: It just goes to show how much they judge you by your appearance,
ah Ted?
Ted: Yeah but were the same. Iíd like to have a beautiful girlfriend but Iíll
probably end up having to settle for Miss Average that is if I canít
find out a way to become rich. Even beautiful girls will marry you
when youíre ordinary if youíre rich!
Jim: Yeah but itís not easy to become rich! Tom married a beautiful Filipino
girl last year. Pretty Filipino girls will marry you so they can get out
of poverty in their home country.
Ted: Yeah but they generally leave you after a couple of years after they
get local citizenship.
Jim: Yeah thatís what I hear too but then you can always go and get
another one


Sample sentence starters:

1. After crossing the river:

2. So to be in the:

3. After the Journey we:

4. Next morning I had:

5. The occasional snake:

6. As Koreans are very:

7. We sat down and:

8. Even the young children:

9. We all piled into the:

10. After having dinner we:

11. The work wasnít very:

12. Something looked similar to:

13. The original car that I had couldnít:

14. We arrived at our:

15. A yell came from:

16. Four hours passed and we started:

17. The town was very quite plus:

18. Then the owner of the:

19. We walked over to:

20. After I had tried to:

21. It didnít take me long to:

22. I was out of my room when:

23. The other three girls:

Here are two examples of endings for each begining. I call it Pizza English. I think you should be able to work out why

1. we sat down and had the pizza that we had bought.
we sat down and played cards for an hour.
2. pizza eating contest, you must be a high school student.
live octopus eating contest, you must be really crazy.
3. we went and had dinner at a pizza restaurant.
we went home, and cooked the fish we had caught.
4. the leftover pizza for breakfast.
a terrible hangover from drinking soju.
5. gets sliced up, and used to add taste to momís pizzas.
we catch; we use to scare girls at our school.
6. hungry people, we always cook lots of pizza for them.
big drinkers, we always have lots of beer ready for them.
7. rolled the pizza dough for making the pizzas.
and talked about what we would do in the holidays.
8. liked helping to make the pizzas for the party.
liked helping to pick the tomatoes on the farm.
9. car to go to the pizza shop after school.
Tomís bedroom to listen to his great sound system.
10. gave the leftover pizza to our dog to eat.
watched a horror movie on the TV.
11. easy at the pizza restaurant.
hard to do at the factory.
12. the way that mom cooks pizza.
the way that my sister makes a cake.
13. even get me too the pizza shop without breaking down.
even climb up the road that goes up over the local mountain.
14. house just as the pizza delivery arrived with the pizza.
school just as the police arrived to take the mad teacher to jail.
15. within the pizza shop kitchen when the cook cut his finger off.
our teacher when he saw us painting his car pink.
16. to worry that our pizza order had been forgotten.
to worry that the rain wasnít going to stop.
17. the pizza shop was closed.
all the street lights were out.
18. pizza shop caught SARS and gave it to all his customers.
lost his best cook last week after he died from SARS.
19. to look at the new pizza shop that had just opened up.
to watch the men fishing off the bridge over the river.
20. cook a pizza and failed I rang up to for a pizza delivery.
learn English for a year I gave up and studied Russian instead.
21. cook the cheese pizza for the party.
cook the dog meat that Iíd bought.
22. my brother stole my share of the pizza.
when the thief stole my money.
23. donít like eating pizza.
didnít come to the party.


The above is half of what I use for one 50 minute lesson. They get two pages of script and 46 sentence starters.
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Joined: 15 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, Anda, what grade of kids do you teach? They must be quite gifted if you're using material like that! I agree w/the poster who said to focus on the communicative-that's why they brought us over here, although w/EPIK one never knows. That doesn't mean you can't build a lesson around a grammar point- I certainly have. Find out what they are taking(or have taken) in their regular lessons, and then see if you can create a lesson around that that will give kids a chance to LISTEN and SPEAK. Don't swamp them w/ long dialogues and extensive vocabulary- that's the domain of the Korean teachers. Yes, you can have games, etc. but try to have ones that reinforce the lesson's main teaching point. Keep it simple and use examples(that's where the Korean teacher can help you as a partner). Don't be afraid to REPEAT examples often in the lesson-many of them need the reinforcement. In an ideal world, you'd have plenty of time to plan the lesson w/ your co-teacher. Forget it- this is Korea, so you'll have to take the initiative. And Mody Ba is spot on about having the Korean teacher w/ you-hopefully you can get them to stop translating everything you say!!!
Then there's teacher training. You likely won't hear diddly about this at orientation, despite the fact that this might be your most important duty w/ your employer!!! You will be given no curriculum to follow, materials, guidance, etc.!! It's all up to you baby! Until EPIK gets its act together(I ain't holding my breath) and develops different modules at different levels so teachers can "progress" up the ladder, remember one cardinal virtue: YOU AREN'T GOING TO PLEASE EVERYBODY!! In fact, a few won't ever be pleased. Some love lessons on esoteric grammar, vocab., idioms and so on. Others want games and teaching tips. Others just want to chat or listen to you. Others would just as soon go to a temple & drink soju. Try to mix different kinds of things in the workshops, do your best but at the end of the day if they're bored or POed, let it be on their heads, not yours. One last thing: when you're new they'll ask your frank opinions on different subjects, some quite controversial. My policy is this: if THEY bring up the topic, I'll give my polite but frank opinion. If you don't want to venture an opinion, that's YOUR choice.
One other thing, going back to the students: I teach mostly middle-school girls. The classes are rather large, but I've had almost no discipline problems to speak of. Bit of a contrast from JET, where I did have the odd problem. A lot depends on your co-teacher. If you do have a problem in class, a)don't overreact or get angry b) talk to your co-teacher AFTER class if you think a situation was not handled well.
For those who are completely new to the whole game, and don't have a clue, don't expect help/support from EPIK. Check out links on teaching from the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme website.
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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: South Korea

PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well Mosley here is a lesson for your girls.

Another of my stories based on figures for Japan. Sex education can be covered in class subjects under English.

Freedom In The West. Story by Andrew / Anda.

1. Min Su. Oh what a month Iíve had Kate. My parents want me to do
this; my friends also want me to do stuff; my boss expects
me to go on unpaid special training trips. My boyfriendís
parents think that I shouldnít work once I get married, but
stay cooped up in an apartment raising kids.
2. Kate. Wow, you are the centre of attention arenít you! You
certainly shouldnít get bored having so much attention!
3. Min Su. Bored no, but crazy yes! Iíve decided to go back to the
States and get a job there and live a normal life where I donít
have to constantly listen to this and that advice from
everybody that I know.
4. Kate. Thatís right, now I remember you did your Uni studies in the
States didnít you?
5. Min Su. Yes and after I finished my course at university I worked in
New York for a while. Actually I spent two years there and
had three different jobs. I had a lot of fun working and
socializing with staff at the places where I worked.
6. Kate. I suppose your parents put you through university and
covered your living expenses while you studied.
7. Min Su. Of course my parents supported me through university.
8. Kate. Oh, I see ďof course your parents supported youĒ! Well most
of my friends at university had to pay their own way through
university as well as myself.
9. Min Su. Why didnít your parents pay for you?
10. Kate. My friends and I are what you call independent. As soon as
we had finished high school we left home and found jobs
and usually shared houses or apartments with other young
people around our own age.
11. Min Su. Cool, did you get a boyfriend when you moved away from
12. Kate. Yes, but donít remind me about him. He was a playboy and
contracted Gonorrhea from playing around and passed it on
to me. (Gonorrhea = a venereal disease transmitted by sex)
13. Min Su. Oh no thatís terrible. It can cause a lot of trouble if it isnít
treated quickly, canít it?
(Gonorrhea can cause loss of fertility and other problems)
14. Kate. I was lucky, one of my girlfriends that worked in a medical
clinic told me that my boyfriend had been named as a
contact by a girl that was being treated for Gonorrhea at
the clinic where she worked.
(a contact here means someone that a girl or boy had slept
15. Min Su. Gee you were lucky to find out quickly! Here in Japan nearly
half of the girls have had sex before theyíve finished high
school nowadays and about 31% of teens have had
Chlamydia at some stage in their teen years.
16. Kate. Gee that many! Chlamydia is a bacterial disease just like
Gonorrhea but only a little less dangerous!
17. Min Su. Yes I know! My elder sister caught it but didnít realize she
had it until she got complications. She caught Perihepatitus
a liver infection, a common secondary infection. My sisterís
doctor told my sister that she mightnít be able to have
babies now. You can imagine how my sister is feeling!
18. Kate. Terrible Iíd reckon! That boyfriend that infected me with
Gonorrhea, kept sleeping around after I left him and ended
up becoming HIV positive and later died of Aids. Imagine
what would have happened if I had kept him as a boyfriend.
19. Min Su. No thanks Iíd rather not imagine. Well Iím safe as Iím still a
virgin and Iím intending to stay that way until I get married.
20. Kate. Thatís the safest way! After my first boyfriend I learned
to take precautions. I made my second boyfriend that Iím
still living with, get tested for venereal diseases by my own
private doctor before I slept with him. I told him that if I ever
hear that heís been near another girl that it would be the end
of our relationship. He also knows that I have regular six
monthly VD checks ups at a clinic. Itís getting common
these days for young people to get their future marriage
partner to have a complete VD examination before they will
go ahead and get married.
21. Min Su. Well Iím going to insist on examinations before I get married.
22. Kate. Thatís smart! Oh, what I meant to tell you before is that
without family and long term friends, life in the States can
often be lonely. Many young people these days start taking
drugs to relieve the emptiness of their lives since they have
moved away from their parents and home town friends. It
seems that freedom isnít all that great in reality.
23. Min Su. I suppose I already know that but I just wish people would
suggest things instead of trying to force me into what they
see as right for me all the time!
24. Kate. Yeah I know what you mean but you either have friends who
want to help you or you get modern day friends who are only
interested in using you up, for what they can get out of you! I
think itís better to have real friends that try to help you
instead of the others that try to use you, donít you?
25. Min Su. I suppose so!
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Joined: 15 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2003 4:32 am    Post subject: I hope Anda doesn't carry candy around schoolyards.... Reply with quote

A SINGLE lesson Anda??!! At my school, lessons are 45 mins., not 6 hrs. And sex education??????!!!! Sure, I'll do a lesson on that for 15-yr. old girls!!! Just today, during a word game, a girl came up w/"sex" and she and her pals couldn't stop giggling for 2 mins. Do what you like Anda. I'll find another reason to incur the wrath of a Korean lynch mob....
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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: South Korea

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2003 5:04 am    Post subject: Um Reply with quote

Um, I used the above story with 430 first year high school students last year and had it translated and approved of. Most of my stories have side by side translation. My school is mixed boys and girls.

But I wouldn't use the above with middle school girls. I was just seeing if you would bite.

Here's one suitable for your girls.

Cupboard Hideout. Story by Andrew / Anda.

1, Jake: Yikes, what happened to you Fred?
2. Fred: I got run over by a steam roller, thatís what happened!
3. Jake: I can see that! Who worked you over?
4. Fred: The girlfriendís father! He got Sam also but missed Troy!
5. Jake: Wow, slow down a bit and tell us what happened!
6. Fred: Well last night I attended a party here on campus with Sally and
her sister!
7. Jake: That was the summer holiday breakup party, right?
8. Fred: Yeah, thatís right! Sam and Troy were both trying to get on with
Kay, Sallyís sister. Kay was having fun but and getting them to
compete for her attention.
9. Jake: Samís been trying for a while to get Kay to go steady with him,
hasnít he?
10. Fred: Yes thatís right! Heís madly in love with her! I think Kay likes him
but sheís such a tease.
11. Jake: Yeah, but I think most women like to tease!
12. Fred: Thatís true but Kay is a professional tease! Sheís got teasing
down to a fine art!
13. Jake: Ouch, poor Sam, I feel sorry for him then!
14. Fred: Wait till I finish telling you what happened and youíll feel even
sorrier for him!
15. Jake: You make it sound bad! Go on then tell us the rest!
16. Fred: Sally and Kay arenít allowed to stay out latter then ten thirty so
they caught a taxi home at ten from the party.
17. Jake: My old manís the same! He expects me home before eleven of a
18. Fred: My dadís cool as long as I ring him and let him know Iíll be late!
19. Jake: Youíre lucky!
20. Fred: I suppose so! Anyway after the girls left we started to drink a bit
too much. After a while Tony suggested that we should ring the
girls up and have a yack with them on his cell phone.
21. Jake: That doesnít sound dangerous!
22. Fred: It wasnít until Kay suggested that we should come over and sneak
into her and her sisterís bedroom through a window to continue
the yack!
23. Jake: Oops, now itís sounding dangerous!
24. Fred: Yes very! You see the girls donít get on with a girl who lives next
door to them!
25. Jake: Donít tell me that she saw you climbing in through the window
and rang your girlfriendís parents up?
26. Fred: Yep, thatís right but she didnít ring my girlfriendís parents up
straight away. She waited for about half an hour then rang them
27. Jake: Ooh, sheís a real nasty one, huh?
28. Fred: Yeah Iíll say! It didnít matter but as we were only yakking not
kissing or any of that kind of stuff!
29. Jake: Just as well by the sound of things!
30. Fred: Anyway Kay being all ears heard her father sneaking down from
upstairs to check on things. We all piled into the girlís clothing
cupboard to hide while the girls pretended to be asleep.
31. Jake: This is starting to sound super dangerous now!
32. Fred: Huh, youíre not kidding! Just as Sallyís father opened the door I
accidentally stood on Samís foot. Sam fell forward out of
the cupboard onto the floor. Sallyís father thought that he was
being attacked so he started punching Sam like crazy!
33. Jake: What did you do?
34. Fred: I tried to go to Samís rescue. Thatís how I got all these bruises all
over my body but Sam still ended up with two broken ribs. Heís
in hospital now getting fixed up!
35. Jake: What happened to Troy?
36. Fred: Nothing, he stayed in the cupboard covered in some of the girlís
dresses that he pulled off hangers to hide under.
37. Jake: I bet Sam feels bad!
38. Fred: No, heís in paradise. Kay is at his bedside holding his hand and
smothering him with kisses!
39. Jake: What happened when your girlfriendís father realized the truth?
40. Fred: He just laughed as he could see that weíd been drinking and had
just been talking. He actually apologized for punching us. When
he opened the door there was only moonlight coming through the
window so he could only see shapes! Even my father thinks itís
41. Jake: How do you feel?
42. Fred: Sore mainly but okay. Sally loves me more cause I tried to help
43. Jake: You must hate Troy!
44. Fred: No, Troyís never been a tough guy! Heís alright!

Last edited by Anda on Wed Jul 09, 2003 2:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 15 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2003 5:50 am    Post subject: Anda: Reply with quote

I think you're probably a lovable person. But, please... take the meds....
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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: South Korea

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2003 2:07 pm    Post subject: Um Reply with quote

Dear Mosley the stuff has been working good for me for over two years and I've been getting results so it can't be that bad. Post an example of what you prepare huh!
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Mody Ba

Joined: 22 May 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2003 2:36 pm    Post subject: Message to Moseley... and message to Anda Reply with quote

Hey Moseley.I have some news that will frost your b---s! Austin(SCSA) is coming in with the new EPIK Chungnam Province. How's that for a kick in the a--?
Anda...yeah,guy,like Moseley says,take your meds,take a vacation...something.Maybe you have been here too long?
And those long lesson threads.Would not all of that be more appropriate on another board?

Nothing that happens here surprises me much anymore! Rolling Eyes
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Joined: 18 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2003 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It looks as if I will have the honor of meeting this Austin character in person at orientation...maybe I will never know becasue he won't tell anybody about his postings on this forum....Anyway Emma Clare has already met him and said he isn't as much of a rebel rouser in person anyway....Maybe I should be on guard in the showers just in case (just kidding Austin Very Happy )...Incidentially Mody Ba, what is up those showers? Why do keep making a jokes about them? We're sleeping in a college dormitory, right? so I'm not expecting much anyway and its only for ten days...
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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: South Korea

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2003 3:24 pm    Post subject: Um Reply with quote

Um, I off on holidays this summer. Um, perhaps I might be able to find a few Austin clones and tell them how great EPIK is. Seems the force needs balance with these clever non-lesson posters.
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