It has been about a week since I arrived in Korea.
This time it is semi-permanent, but so far that fact hasn’t quite sunk in. I’m still staying in my in-laws’ house (we have an apartment but it needs work before we move in). I don’t have a job or occupation (as previously mentioned, I’m applying for graduate school, so I’m not looking for permanent employment at the moment). My husband has taken time off work to help me get settled, so we’re always together.
Basically it feels like every other vacation I’ve spent here in Korea.
Only this time it’s “for keeps.”
The day after I arrived, I went down to the immigration office to register as an “alien.” I’ve been an “alien” for the last 11 years in Japan too, so I’m used to the term. I really wasn’t sure what to expect because I’ve heard horror stories about long lines and terrible waits. As we were on our way I realized it was possibly the worst possible day to go because it was a semi-holiday (ie. many companies were off, but public offices were still open).
Fortunately, aside from the terrible timing (right during lunch when only one window was open to process people), it really wasn’t as bad as I expected. Armed with my Korean speaking husband everything went quite smoothly.
We then went down to the new apartment, so I could see it for the first time. It had actually been bought for us by my husband’s parents “on spec” several years ago (before I’d met my husband) because they hoped to someday have a “myeoneuri” (daughter-in-law). It definitely needs work, but I like the space, and especially the neighborhood, so I’m looking forward to moving in and making it ours.
There, I found out that I passed the second screening for the scholarship program (more on that later), so that was quite exciting!
This week, we went back to immigration to get my registration number. Theoretically, I could just wait for my registration card to come out in another two-ish weeks. We paid the extra money to have them send it to us, thus it wouldn’t require another trip back. EXCEPT… I needed the number, and the extension of my visa in order to have my stuff sent from Japan.
I really don’t understand that part… The visa they gave me in Japan was only for 90 days. They told me that was standard, and from what I’ve heard elsewhere that’s true. BUT, in order to send my 41 boxes of stuff to Korea for “personal use” I needed a visa of at least a year. (I mean, who sends 41 boxes just for 3 months, right?) They basically just gave me the extension when I registered the day after arriving, so I’m not sure why they don’t make the initial visa a one-year visa. I’m sure there is some (good?) reason, but to me it’s just a mystery. The first of many, I’m sure.
With my registration number also on that piece of paper, I was told I might possibly be able to get a mobile phone, but of course it was more difficult than that. Korean husband again to the rescue just made it in his name instead. That we could have done a week ago, but we were planning to do it with his phone company… and they unfortunately are in the middle of a 45 day suspension for reasons I didn’t ask about. In the end we decided a different company might actually be more advantageous for certain reasons, so the phone is coming tomorrow!
It’s amazing how hard it is to go back to living without technology, no matter how temporarily.
So life in Korea has started! I’m looking forward to many new adventures here in Asia!