Posts Tagged With: seoul

The Road to Freedom Part 3 – Immigration and The Interview

Part 3

So, after going to and booking my appointment for the 9th of September, it was just a matter of waiting. Do I have all the documents I need? Is everything in order? Am I forgetting something? I think I looked over my documents at least 3 times before leaving the house that day.

When you book your appointment, they give you your waiting number at the same time. So when I got to the immigration office, all I had to do was wait. Number 17, my lucky number, oddly enough. I clutched my file folder and waited until I was called.

When it came time, I smiled big and hoped for the best. She told me to just give her everything and she would sort it out. So that’s what I did. She went through everything and asked me questions about what some of the documents were and why I was giving them. She also prints out a copy of the point system sheet for her to count. She was confused about my study abroad experience.

“Did you receive a bachelor’s in the end?”
“You didn’t exactly go for language instruction, did you?”
“No, I was a regular exchange student.”
“Unfortunately, I can’t count that as study in Korea experience.”

Oh, dear. This isn’t looking good. I mentioned that it was a shame that Korean was my major but it meant nothing on the sheet. She asked me to show her what I meant. Luckily I brought my transcripts. So when she (hesitantly) opened them and looked through them, I pointed out that my major was East Asian Language and Literature, but I focused on Korea. If you look throughout my transcript, it had Beginning Korean all the way up to Advanced and Business Korean.

“Did you count the points before you came today?”
“Yes. I came up with 81. But you know the system, it might not exactly be that much. Depending on the mood of the worker, it could be more or less.”
So I wait patiently.
“So, how many points did I end up with?”
“Well, according to my count, 82.”
“82?! Really?!”

Now, my TOPIK score was only a 5, so I could only get a max of 28 points for the TOPIK + KIIP section. But after speaking with her in Korean and explaining my major, she gave me the full 30 points. That’s the only way I could get an 82.
She asked me to copy my passport and the KIIP document and deposit 30,000won for my new card. So I did that, but ended up forgetting to copy my passport since I had a bunch of college exchange students from America asking me questions at the machines. I got confused. So when I came back without the passport copy, she was a bit annoyed and I felt bad but she copied it for me. I’m very grateful to her.
So I passed! She didn’t need the 급여내역서 in the end, but she took everything else with her.
Since you have to surrender your ARC when you apply, you are not allowed to leave the country until you receive your new card. No trips, no nothing. Boo.

But just yesterday, the 19th, I got my message from immigration.

“Your visa is permit. Please visit immigration office pick up your alien registration card. You can pick up after 2016.September.30.”

The English might not be so good but that tells me that I can go get my ARC card anytime in October. So while you may get the message early, you might not be able to pick it up for another two weeks. It’s the new semester at schools so there are tons of foreign students. So immigration is quite backed up. That must be why I have to go so late. That’s fine. I was planning to go in early October anyway.

So there you have it! Your guide to getting the F-2 visa! It only took me…. Almost a year (a little more if you count life experiences and stuff but…)! Good luck to everyone and let me know if you have questions.

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Korean Food Propoganda

I like Korean Food. Well, let me rephrase that. I like some Korean food. But I don’t always want to eat it. And that’s normal. I was raised in the U.S., in a western household, where we eat typically European-style food. Asian food is not an everyday item to us, just as bread-based dishes are not typical of Asian households. I don’t expect them to be. Many Asians residing in the US eat their traditional Asian-style meals, containing rice and other vegetables or fish that are not a staple in my household. I do eat rice at my house once in a while, and after having Asian roommates, I ate it more frequently in college. But I do get that urge for bread or tomato sauce and cheese once in a while. It’s natural. My dietary habits and Korean dietary habits can be quite different.

Now, I  know I should like Korean food more since I live in Korea but it’s still so hard to me. Food is always a tough issue with me. When I’m not hungry, I hate food. When I’m hungry, I don’t mind it but it still is a chore. I really dislike going out to eat with people but I also hate eating alone. Odd, much? Yeah, I don’t understand it either. But, it seems to be a recurring thing here that everyone will tell me to eat more rice or eat more Korean food. But yet, I would never ask my foreign friends in the US that they need to eat more American food. I recommend dishes for them to try if they haven’t had it based on what they like but never would I really force and actively try to persuade them to eat it. But you can’t escape that here. And it makes life so much harder. 

When going out to dinner with friends, especially when going drinking, in the US, you order a dish or two and drink. And when your meal is over, you keep drinking. You don’t stop unless you’re tired, full, drunk, etc. And then we enjoy our drunken stupor or something of the sort. However, in Korea, they order a dish and keep ordering dishes. Next restaurant, next drink, next dish. It gets to the point that each dish loses it’s individual purpose. I eat, not because I’m craving that food, but because I need to eat something while drinking. And this is not always the case, but very often it is. So much money is spent on food. I was looking on Facebook and saw my American friends’ dinners and breakfasts. It was a one-bowl rice dish with lots of mix-ins. Couscous with cheese, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and… olives? I forget. But it was very simple. And that was dinner! But in Korea, you can’t just have that. You have to have so many things. I feel like that dish would be lost in the whole scheme of things if you put it in a Korean dish. Yes, they have a similar dish, Bokkeumbap (볶음밥), but usually you have Kimchi or radishes or other stuff on the side with it. It’s never alone. I miss that specialness of each dish. 

So Sunday, this was my big concern. And then, today, I come into work and there is an article on the front page of the Korea Times that reads “US TV host says ‘Korean Food is healthy and Delicious'”….

Why the hell is this front page news? Is it a slow news day?

It just seems that Koreans are very insecure about their culture, and especially their food. They think no one likes it and that it’s such an amazing thing when we can eat it. And don’t even get me started on the whole “Can you eat spicy food?” question that bothers most foreigners here.  Yes, we have heard of Korean food. No, we don’t eat it as much as Japanese or Chinese food but we eat it more than Ethiopian or Singaporean food. And this isn’t the first article like this, they always post something about Korean food in different parts of the world or Korean culture hitting other countries. If Korean’s are so proud of their culture, why does it come off as insecure? It’s really strange.

Korea spends so much money on tourism (yes, I know tourism is a big ticket item for most countries) but they spend much of it domestically. They try to convince the people already in this country to go visit their historical sites and natural wonders. It’s a bit strange. I’ve never seen it to this degree in Germany or in Japan. You just kinda knew what you wanted to see before you went or you looked it up on the internet in your hotel room. It’s not littered over every subway, major art center, etc etc. I am tired of these kinds of advertisements. As someone who lives in Korea, I would like Korea to not think of me as a tourist. I would like them to think of me as someone who lives here and probably actively participates in everyday life. I don’t need to be told which places to go for visiting, just suggestions. I don’t even travel in my home country, why is your country any different? This isn’t a vacation to me, this is work, life. I will eat Korean food occasionally but please, let me have my food heritage back. And respect it, as I respect yours. 

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Caribong – Gasan Digital Complex / Mario Outlets

So, I will update about my life in a bit but I figured I would talk about my recent outing to a place I’ve never been to before. 

So finally, after many plans made and cancellations, Soyeon and I went to the outlets at Gasan Digitail Complex Station. Now, everyone tells me how great this place is and how cheap everything is. As an avid shopper that I am, I’m so excited! I love shopping! And they have brand names that I know. Even better! If your an American, when you think of outlets, you will imagine places like “Woodbury Outlets” or the outlets in Atlantic City. Streets filled with stores of cheap designer products. So many, it takes a day to see everything and it’s an adventure in itself.

And that’s what I have in my mind, so I’m like “Aww man, I gotta get there now!” So I get there and Soyeon arrives 30 minutes late, at 8p and the outlets close at 9. Are we even gonna have time to shop? Is it possible? But it doesn’t matter. She comes and we get ourselves there. And… it’s nothing like what I have in my mind. I mean, of course it can’t be just like what I have in the States, we have more space for our crap. But I’m thinking something like Time Square in Youngdeungpo at least, with big stores in one giant shopping center. But, no, it’s not. Imagine an American department store, like Macy’s or Nordstrom, but as clean or roomy, so imagine it like Sears or JC Penney’s. (I’m not judging, I love JC Penney’s and Sears.) And each section is so small. And so I try to keep myself excited for the brand name bag section but there is only maybe 10 bags from each brand. How the heck am I supposed to shop that? Aw hell no! (The jersey girl in me is coming out) It’s actually so much smaller than I thought (Except for the Adidas section, which seemed like an actual store so I was pleased with that) but everything else was pretty craptastic. I didn’t buy anything and I doubt I will. I think I might just wait for the Duty Free Stores to go shopping if I want anything like that. I’m not gonna spend my money on crap like that. 

So my warning is to just wait for the Korean Duty Free Stores, such as Walkerhill, Shilla, Donghwa, etc. They are even better if you shop on their online store. One of them, I forget which one, offers 10,000won twice a day at 10am and 8pm for your purchases. And I don’t think there is a limit. So try them if you wanna shop cheap for brand names in Korea. Otherwise, wait until you get to that brand’s country or origin or the US. I’m gonna wait til I get home to brand name shop. Woodbury outlets, here I come!!

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Get in the a Groove

So I am trying to get on track with my  New Year’s resolution to lose weight. I take dance classes 3 times a week usually (sometimes I really have absolutely no energy to take the class after my getting up so early.) I go to the EZ Dance Studio, a chain company that’s located throughout Seoul and neighboring Seoul cities, such as Bundang, Suwon, etc. If you wanna check them out, go to or go look them up on Naver/Daum. They’re a pretty big chain. Maybe not as famous as some other companies but still good. The one that I go to is pretty small but it’s big enough. It reminds me of when I went to Marcia Hyland Dance Studio when I was younger. I attended that studio for 9 years and I really enjoyed it. From Kindergarten to Freshman year of high school I went there and I never regret it. I regret not investing more energy in dancing, sometimes. But it was fine. I had to give it up in high school since the studio was just too expensive. And it was a bit out of the way so I just went with my high school’s local activities, like marching band and music groups. I enjoyed those too but I got out of shape because of it.

Before joining this place 4 months ago, I was very out of shape. I can’t tell you how out of shape I was. Lifting my leg to stand on my bed was a struggle. I had the hardest time standing up for long periods. It was just really bad. And I got tired of being a sloth. It was either sleep, eat, or work. Never anything else. I tried calligraphy for 6 months and while I enjoy calligraphy, it was just too quiet for me. If you know me, I need noise. I need that thumping beat. I really love it. And calligraphy was the opposite. So I one day decided to sign up for dance class and really have never regretted it.

Now, I must warn anyone who goes to the smaller schools of EZ dance, they probably don’t know English. Mine doesn’t. They were absolutely terrified of me because I have the foreigner face coming at them. But once I open my mouth, they felt a little bit better. And every week, little by little, they got even more comfortable with me. It was quite nice. Now, I feel like a celebrity. Well, in the way that a foreigner does in Korea. I’m the only foreigner at my studio, with the exception of maybe a Chinese student that might be enrolled without my knowledge. They blend in a lot easier than I and I envy them slightly for that. But, everyone knows me here and all the students, even the little high schoolers practicing for Art School Entrance Auditions are friendly and outgoing. They love practicing their English on me and them I don’t mind because they know I won’t teach them really, just play around with them. And the owner and his wife are very sweet. The owner’s wife is a modern jazz teacher, and actually a really famous one in Korea. She’s going to NYC at the end of this month for a workshop or something. I’m not really sure what it is but she will be gone for a month. I’m kinda jealous. I wanna go home for a month sometimes.

The cost of this studio is cheaper than what I paid at home in the US. For 3 months (plus an extra one if you get a special promotion going), it’s about 270,000₩. Honestly, some gym memberships are this price. And here is a bit more fun than just lifting weights. I thought about a cycling class that is also.located in the Youngdeungpo Market area, but that somehow seems like torture. At least with a dance class, you become much more flexible, which will be beneficial in other aspects of your life, if you know what I mean. Such as the club! And you can dance to all the popular radio hits better than some of the other girls, which.can be a plus.

So, I am satisfied with this arrangement. But I feel like I need another way to lose weight too. I was thinking the 8-minute programs on Youtube, which kick you butt but are a bit boring. Or another option was getting a Wii. But they are quite pricey. And Wii Fit is also slightly pricey. But it might be a good idea. I need to think about it more. Im seriously considering it. But I gotta think, how often would I use it and is it worth it? Lots to consider. Lots and lots to consider.

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