Friday, September 25, 2009

Immigrant? Alien? That's me.

Today was indeed hectic and long. The subway ride to the Immigration Office was an hour, and seating was limited which made prepping for my teaching presentation difficult. Although I had a map (in Korean!), it was challenging to locate the office. Fortunately, a nice woman picked up on the utter confusion all over my face and guided me to where I needed to go. She tried repeatedly to speak to me in Korean and then opted to walk alongside me until we got to the destination. I appreciate that nearly everyone I've interacted with assumes I speak Korean; I only wish I could communicate better with them. In time, in time... 

Once I arrived at the Immigration Office, I was desperate to leave; the thermostat had to have been set to sauna or Hades because it was ridiculously warm in there. The appointment itself went fine; really, all it entailed was handing over my passport, employment documents, and medical test results and then buying a 'revenue stamp' for 10,000 won (still need to determine the stamp's purpose) that I hope will be placed in my passport as a souvenir. Wasn't too happy about having to leave behind my passport and am slightly nervous that it's being mailed back to me in lieu of my retrieving it in person. I asked the woman who waited on me if it was safe to mail it, and she said: "please trust our government; no accidents until now" which I'm hoping means that their postal system trumps America's. 

Lots of adjustments going on. For instance, I'm trying to get used to eating dinner at 11pm. By the time I left campus tonight I'd reached a hunger plateau and could have easily skipped dinner. However, were I to wake up in the middle of the night with gnawing stomach pains, I'd have nothing to eat in this apartment except for dried seaweed and bland cheese slices. Am mildly obsessed with the seaweed -even had some for breakfast the other day- but this current batch of cheese is sub-par. Will press on in search of another, better product.

I am also adjusting to the frequent military air drills. Yesterday I became increasingly nervous as I watched a succession of very low-flying jets fly past a classroom window. Neither the teacher nor the students seemed alarmed, and yet it looked and sounded as though the planes were heading straight into the building. 

On a positive note:  this week has been packed, and it's been good. I've learned a ton during training about teaching English as a foreign language, lesson planning, and cultural differences. I've interacted with bright students and terrific new colleagues (smart and good natured!). And I've also been reminded that it takes time and practice to get good at something, so I don't need to be too hard on myself as I prepare for my first official day of teaching. Yes, folks... it's tomorrow!


  1. Thanks for taking time after a long day to update us. We look forward to learning what transpired in your day.
    Love you,

  2. Good luck, Jen! I'm having so much fun reading your entries...Excited to hear about it.

    I miss you so much. I thought of you yesterday while driving past the Hollywood Bowl. It was as though the weekend event was MADE for us, just a couple weeks too late! The sign was posted:

    "Sound of Music Sing-a-Long"

    SO Yes, of course, I spouted, "The hills are alive!!!" I think I heard a few dogs howl in the distant hills...
    xoxo Leisl