Exhaustion wiped me out yesterday… I suddenly got a call last week saying my visa number was issued, which meant I had to go to Japan to get my visa for Korea put into my passport…The next day. I scrambled to write a paper for grad school, pack up my things, and set my alarm for 4am. We had to wake up early because my fiance had to drive me to the airport which is a good two and a half hours away.
The good thing is, the trip was pretty easy, as I had no luggage. I took a small backpack with me and only brought back one other bag (full of paperback novels) so at least I wasn’t lugging around four big, heavy suitcases like I was when I came to Korea. It was also good for me because I’ve already lived in Fukuoka for 2 years, and that’s where they sent me to get my visa. The tricky part was getting to the Korean consulate on time. We had to be there at 11am to submit our passports and documents, and my plane was a little late getting in, and I was cutting it close.
When I got on the shuttle bus at the airport, the girl next to me asked me if I was going to the Korean consulate as well. It was a huge relief to be able to go with someone, but we were both worried we wouldn’t make it. We attempted to take the subway, but the next train to our stop would have made us late, so we got a taxi instead. When we pulled up to the big gate in front of the building, we couldn’t believe it, but the sign said, “Submission period – 8:00 – 11:30a.m.” At least we made it, but it wasn’t fun thinking we were going to be late.
Once our passports were taken from us, we met up with my friend and her sister to go to the Alice in Wonderland cafe. Then I met another friend of mine for dinner and she let me stay with her, so it was nice seeing friends so soon after thinking I wouldn’t see them for months. The next day, we wandered around the city, trying to stay out of the sun and the heat, but were beat by the end of the day. Friday, we met up again to get our passports with our newly attached visas, and then we headed for the airport.
After a few hours of waiting for our ticket counters to open, we started our way through security, and I met another girl who had just gotten her visa and was on her way back to Korea. Although I work with a lot of native English speakers at my new job, it was nice to meet two other people who were in my exact situation. We were able to share in this incredibly stressful and sometimes scary process of moving to a new country.
Junkyu picked me up at the airport and we stayed with his cousin, who owns a restaurant that serves duck. The next day, she and her fiance took us to a studio where they shoot Korean movies. They have regular indoor studios, but they also have two big outdoor traditional Korean villages, which have been used in some of my favorite dramas, like My Love from the Star and The Moon Embracing the Sun.
That night we went to a Beast concert. I’ve seen them before in Japan, but it was my first official K-pop concert in Korea. I think Junkyu had a hard time understanding what was going on, and he didn’t know much of the music, and the building didn’t have air-conditioning, so we were sweating a lot. But I had a lot of fun seeing one of my favorite groups, and they did a mashup of two of my favorite songs toward the end. Once it was over, we went back to the duck restaurant and ate dinner with his friends from high school who were all in the brass band with him.
The next day, we went to a medical conference, where Junkyu had to meet with his colleagues and attend a few lectures. We ate lunch before heading off to IKEA to look for furniture. We thought it would be a quick trip, and we didn’t want to stay too long because it was a Sunday and it was packed. We got there around 2pm and didn’t leave the parking lot until about 10:40pm. We decided to get as much as we needed because they were able to deliver up to 25 boxes to our house.
We shopped for my reading nook chair, our kitchen table, chairs, patio furniture, side tables, entertainment systems, lamps, and a wardrobe. There was probably more but I forgot… It will all arrive tomorrow, but we were able to fit some of the smaller items in our car, so we started putting some of it together. We got a couch last week, but something about it was different than how we ordered it, so we were going to just get the same one again until Junkyu’s colleague told him about a store that has really good quality all-reclining leather sofas. We visited the store yesterday and fell in love with one of the ones on sale in the outlet section, so we will probably be getting that soon as well, once we clear out the old one.
I also started my job on Monday. I showed up and had no idea what I was doing, but I was told to observe and take notes in one of the classes. Then, during snack time, I was called up to get my medical check done at a clinic across the street. I had to do eye exams, ear checks, my measurements were taken, I got a chest x-ray, and I had to get a blood sample taken. It didn’t take too long and although I absolutely hate doctor visits (especially needles) I was proud of myself for holding it together.
The first day was intense, and I met so many teachers, students, and staff members that remembering names is still difficult. But we had to all go downstairs to reorganize the books in the library and put stickers on them according to level. Towards the end, we got pizza and it was a great way to end my first day at work. However, the stress of it all carried over to my new home life, and both of us had a hard time communicating effectively. My fiance was also tired from work, but we eventually worked it out. This morning was much better, and the day was easier for me, as now I’m used to the system of the kindergarten and the way our company runs.
We had a meeting after the kids left, and I had to introduce myself (along with another new teacher who just started today). The other teachers told us that when we first arrive, we have to sing a song to the group. I volunteered to sing part of Bae Bae by Big Bang, and everyone was really excited that I sang in Korean. I’m really looking forward to how the rest of the week goes. Our new furniture will arrive, and school will get easier, and eventually I will be done with my observation week and in my own class!