Monday, August 30, 2010

Why hello, S. Korea VISA.

 I have my VISA! I cannot believe it; the little sticker in my passport feels magical, its power being to make life changing experiences finally feel real!
The process of obtaining  my VISA went as follows:

1. Arrange an appointment/interview with the Korean Consulate in Seattle (2 weeks prior)

2. Travel to Seattle for interview. The task seemed daunting, but at least Seattle is a place worthy of visiting. Once I arrived at the address, I walked in the large glass doors of the enormous building. I saw elevators and stairs, but had no idea where to go from there. Luckily, I spotted a computer directory and found the Consulate on the 11th floor.

3. Check in with the assistant. I provided her with:
  • My VISA application
  • VISA checklist with issuance #
  • My passport, 1 passport photo 
  • 1 sealed transcript record
  • $45 for the VISA
  • $19.50 for a return envelope

      I knew I was there for an interview, but after paying for the VISA and envelope, I thought for a second that I was in the clear and ready to go home. Like I said, the thought lasted for just one second until the assistant handed me Visitor Badge #1. 

      4. Called in for an interview. The assistant pronounced my name correctly! Rarely am I ever called for anything with the proper pronunciation of my name, so that was pretty impressive. The assistant took me to a nicely furnished office and told me my interviewer would be with me in just a moment. The door shut behind her and I was alone. I looked outside and saw that the sky had turned a dark gray and all of a sudden I got really nervous. Until then, I had yet to think about what questions they might ask me. It seemed weird that I had gotten a job, but was being interviewed again. Quickly, I thought about some responses that I could provide for some generic questions I had seen people mention on Daves ESL Cafe forums in reference to their own consulate interviews. This took just about two minutes, and I was then left to scan the Korean language, history, and travel books lined up on book shelves that covered the walls. I kept thinking: "Sheeeet, what if I fail the interview. What if I've come all this way and I can't get the VISA I need to work in Korea? Then, what will I do with my life? There are no teaching jobs here!!!"

      5. Interview. After about 5 minutes, the interviewer joined me and urged me to move from the hard chair I had been sitting in to the comfy, leather couch. She sat on a leather chair diagonal to me. She was very friendly and made me feel at ease immediately, but it was clear she was also very serious about the interview. I was asked the following questions: 
      • Why do you want to teach in South Korea? 
      • What teaching experience do you have? 
      • What other work have you done? 
      • What makes you happy? 
      • What makes you sad? 
      • How will you teach English?
      I guess I was a little surprised by the intensity of the interview because I had heard from others that they were asked questions in a group setting and were responsible for only one or two. Regardless, I passed and the interviewer told said to me: "You have prefect English and will do very well. I just want you to make sure to  research how to teach English in Korea before you leave." OK, done!

      6. 2 days later, I received the passport with the VISA sticker in the mail. I was impressed with how quickly it came, as I had been told it might arrive in 2-3 days, but they were not sure because they were backed up with applicants.

      HORRAY! Parts of me wish I could leave for Korea now as opposed to 13 days, but then there is also the part of me that wants to say proper goodbyes to all those I love and will miss so very much, including this little guy:

      "Can I come, meow?"

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