As August quickly approaches I’m starting to get seriously prepared for my move from my hometown of Richmond, Virginia to Ilsan, South Korea. I’ll be teaching English with one of the many conversation schools (hagwons) in the area.
I cleaned out my closet so I could properly evaluate how much appropriate clothing I own for both work (skirts/dresses the the knee, no tattoos showing, dark colors preferred, no cleavage) and social life (still need to stick to roughly the same rules but can be a little more casual) and that went better than expected. To be honest, I’m kind of excited about getting to dress up more in my day-to-day life. Outside of school I’ve decided I will only cover up my arm tattoos. People really don’t look at my feet and ankles and I’ve had friends that will notice I have those tattoos after months/years (I’m serious!) of knowing me. Hopefully none of my student’s parents see me and decide I’m a gangster.
I got my first credit card through Capital One because they 1) offer cards for people with limited credit history and 2) don’t have a foreign transaction fee. I’m going to pay for my utilities, phone, and car (I need to build more credit and having a car when I am back in the US will be great) with that and then pay the bill in USD through a Bank of America account. BOA because even though they fail at environmental/human rights, there are literally the only US bank with physical locations in South Korea. Carrying cash is really important in South Korea so I’ll be able to do all the little things with cold, hard won.
For a phone, I’m thinking of going with the global Blackberry based off of information on their website. American phones run off of GSM while in Europe and Asia, CDMA is used for cell communication which the Blackberry has. After doing some research, as a foreigner I’d only be allowed to get a pay-as-you go phone and the international rates are like $.85 a minute and texting the standard $.15 or so. That seems like it could add up pretty quickly and I’d rather just pay a predictable $130/month for reliable coverage and data. That part is really attractive to me because I’m scared of getting lost so GPS, Google Maps, etc at my fingertips would make me feel better. I still need to actually go to the Verizon store and talk to someone about it, but I’m waiting until August when I’m eligible for a phone upgrade.
I got a copy of the receipt for my camera from my dad and am taking that and my warranty to the store tomorrow so I can work out a lens issue. I also talked to my dad about my laptop concerns (mine is 5 years old and kind of a beast and has no camera abilities for Skyping) and he said he’d consider helping me out for an early birthday/Christmas present since I won’t be in the country for either. Not quite sure how you prove you’re still a student for the buy a Macbook, get a free iPod deal but I still have a student ID card, number, and @edu e-mail address so hopefully that works out! Having an iPod would definitely help my day of flying go by faster.
Other than that, my steps towards leaving the country have been primarily related to obtaining the documents for my visa which has been expensive given my limited budget. So far:
3 copies of my VCU transcripts: $15
criminal background check: $20
apostille seal for documents: $10
7 passport photos: $28
extra large envelope: $2.99
shipping documents internationally (via UPS): $97
Currently I’m waiting on my visa issuance number which is like a proof of sponsorship. My school’s academic director took my documents to the embassy in Korea to have them approved and will e-mail me that number once she has it. At that point, I will make an appointment to be interviewed by the consul in Washington, D.C. and from there, my final step will be mailing my passport to Korea to be given my E2 visa stamp. Even though I’m in the final steps, it still seems like there is so much to accomplish!
Also, everyone keeps asking me when I’m leaving. WELL. My contract says my first teaching day is Tuesday August 30 but I have about 5 days of training before that. Since I don’t have my visa #, I don’t have my flight information yet (my school arranges and pays for my ticket but obviously wants to make sure I’ll be given clearance into the country first) so I can only guess that it’ll be around the 20th of August.