I resolved to move to Korea during my last visit in Oct, and flew out at the end of Feb. During the intervening 4 months, my life was a madhouse of preparing for the move:
- visa: 5 weeks and reams of documents to prove my Korean ancestry
- ankle surgery: 3 weeks of recovery
- Playground: daily practice for 3 weeks leading up to the Aerial-Fu performance
- Cisco: wrap-up, handoffs, and 2 presentations to the Agile community
- Wing Chun: hit my goal of finishing Siu Lim Tao and at least 1-handed Chi Sao
- lion dancing: 2 performances in Oakland Chinatown
On the other hand, I somewhat skimped on preparation for my arrival in Korea itself. I mean, it wasn’t entirely unwarranted: from a legal standpoint, my F-4 visa gives me unrestricted work access on par with citizenship.
Plus a Korean-Australian friend of mine told me that, aside from teaching English or transferring within my own company (an avenue I pursued but proved unfeasible), it’s pretty much impossible to apply for a “real” job in Korea unless I’m already living in Seoul.
Still, I guess there were a few of things I could have researched to save me some amount of bumbling around upon arrival…
Apparently all foreigners intending to stay longer than 3 months need to file for an Alien Registration Card (ARC), which is analogous to getting a Social Security number. Having an ARC is a prerequisite for getting a cell phone, a credit check for an apartment lease, and possibly a bank account.
What I didn’t foresee is that the earliest appointment availability would be over 2 weeks away, due to March being the start of the new school term. Which ties into…
Learning the Language
The enrollment period for the spring term, including the much-vaunted Yonsei Korean Language Institute aimed at foreigners, runs through next weekend. Great!
Except that the classes are all full, which means I can’t start until the summer term in June. D’oh.
Bumbling, not Stalled
OK, so I didn’t anticipate these roadblocks perfectly well, but it’s not like I’m dead in the water. My living situation isn’t as settled as I’d like, but I’m not exactly homeless either – I knew all along that I’d be spending my first week at my favorite old hostel.
Plus, the staff here are mostly Korean college students who want to improve their English skills, so I struck up a bargain with Chang-Hae who tends the bar on Mon and Wed to tutor one another in our respective languages.
Also, the setbacks on the personal front have been more than offset by some very promising opportunities on the professional front.
But more on that in the next post…