Before I actually write a blog about what happened on my vacation, I feel I should express my annoyance and the inconveniences of getting it in the first place. To fully capture the situation, I’m going to try to do this blog like a narrative.
End of October 2010
I know that winter vacation is coming soon, and I know I need more information about it. My friend and I have already decided that a trip to the Philippines is going to be the best vacation ever and now we need to coordinate our days off, officially request the days off, book the plane tickets, and then wait for summer weather in the middle of winter. So, I turn to my co-teacher to have a mini-interrogation session.
ME: “When is winter vacation?” (I figured I needed to know the basics first.)
HER: rummages for a calendar “January…?”
ME: “When do I need to ask for my time off?”
HER: with the most baffled expression on her face “Request time off?”
ME: “Yeah. When I take my vacation, don’t I need to let them know?”
HER: “Oh. They will let you know.”
ME: (!?) “Um…when will they let me know?”
HER: “Maybe two or three weeks before winter vacation.”
ME: “What? Why?”
HER: “They are very busy and need to make the schedule for next year. You will also be teaching a winter camp which is more important than your vacation.”
I do my best not to freak out, and hope she’s only kidding. I e-mail a coordinator of the program (an experienced EPIK teacher and liaison to the EPIK office) to find out if this answer is normal. Turns out…it’s not normal. The advice I receive is that I need to officially request the time off in order to get it approved.
About a week later, I decided to carefully broach the subject again. This time, I’m armed with my e-mail.
Beginning of November 2010
ME: “Are you sure I don’t need to request my vacation days?”
HER: “The Board of Education will tell you. The needs of the school are more important.”
ME: “Oh… Well… I got this e-mail from someone at the EPIK office. They say I should request my time off first and not wait.”
She reads the email…Then she turns to the head of the English department where they have about 30 minutes of discussion in Korean. I sit apprehensively but very glad I’m armed with an e-mail. My head co-teacher also comes over to read the e-mail.
HER: “Okay, well. Maybe.”
ME: “Well I need to request the days off because I will go to the Philippines and I need to buy plane tickets before they get very expensive.”
HER: “Hm….okay. What days do you need for vacation?” She pulls out the calendar again.
ME: “What days are winter break again?”
All I can think is: SHIT. My friend’s vacation time is in February, and they’re telling me January. I quickly get on facebook, fortunately my friend is on, and we start messaging each other. As I talk to my friend, my co-teacher talks to me in English to discuss dates. She translates to the head English teacher in Korean who then talks to the Vice Principal… who then talks to my head co-teacher back to my co-teacher who then tells me what’s been said in English. To sum this up, over an hour later, the dates are finally locked in: the last week of January and the first week of February.
ME: “Awesome. Thank you so much!”
HER: “You’re welcome.”
Me: “Are you sure I don’t need to fill out paperwork?”
HER: “We’ll do it online together later. When the education office is not busy.”
ME: “Okay. When is that?”
HER: “Maybe the end of December?”
At the end of that week, I start to fret that my vacation times aren’t valid and I really want to buy tickets. This time, I directly approach my head co-teacher.
ME: “Are you sure I don’t need to officially put in my vacation?”
HEAD: “Maybe when it’s closer to when you leave. Not right now.”
ME: “Okay. Do you think it’s okay to buy my tickets?”
HEAD: “Maybe you should wait.”
ME: “Yes, but tickets will be more expensive if I wait. Are my days okay, will there be any problems?”
HEAD: “I don’t think there will be problems. Maybe you can buy your tickets.”
ME: “Really? Okay. I will buy them this weekend.”
So basically, throughout the rest of November and in December, I made little reminders about how excited I was for the Philippines and would ask if I needed to submit any formal paper work. It wasn’t until…DECEMBER 17! (the week before the last school day)… My head coteacher says to me…
“I have good news. The head teacher approved your vacation days. You can buy your tickets now~!”
I never did any formal submission of paperwork and in my mind, my vacation request/vacation very nearly turned into this (oh and I did have to deskwarm):