Sunday, August 23, 2009

On my way to SMOE's 2009 August orientation in T-minus 4 hours . . .

I arrived back in Korea yesterday (Sunday) around 7pm. I was pretty knackered because since last Thursday I haven't gotten much sleep. Let me explain . . .

Due to the whole wondeful paper work blizzard that is getting an E2 visa to teach in Korea I wasn't able to do the actual application for the E2 until this past Monday. I had to fly out on the Saturday of the same week because the orientation begins the next day. Needless to say I was pretty worried about whether or not my visa and passport would be ready for pick up on Friday when my flight leaves Saturday morning at 9am.

So Thursday night, last week, I didn't sleep at all. Earlier in the week I had already begun staying up later and later in an attempt to return to 'Korea time' and avoid some jet lag effects . . . don't know if this will work, but we'll see.

Friday morning I take a bus down to Toronto, and then a taxi from the Greyhound bus terminal to the embassy. It cost about 15.00 but I didn't care, I just wanted to get to the embassy and pick up my pass port and visa.

I walk into the embassy and begin to cross the foyer to get a number to see one of the clerks when the woman who I've talked to twice now (the first time when I came and didn't have my criminal background check notarized--me dumbass, the info is on the consulate website; the second when I came back with all my documents ready and I applied for the visa) saw me and she waved me to just walk up to the glass wall.

I began to feel a wonderful sense of cautious relief because I didn't think she'd be waving me over to her unless it was to tell me good news.

She asked me if I had been called to pick up my visa--and my heart rate jacked up to a 1000 beats per minute, and I then forced myself to calm down and not make assumptions. I said no that I hadn't been called but was hoping that my visa and passport were ready--she said she thought they were and walked over to a closet thing and began searching for it.

Not finding it she waves me to walk to the far end of the room where I see she's walking out of the glassed-off secure area to meet me. She walks me from there to another room where a woman is sitting behind more glass. She says something in Korean and then says the woman will give me my visa and passport after she finishes up with a Canadian girl who was already being helped.

I was so happy I can't even begin to articulate what I was feeling. All week long I'd been freaking out a bit about what I would do if my visa and passport weren't ready. I kept telling myself that it would not be that big a deal because if I was a day or two late to orientation it's not like I'm going to be missing anything huge because I've already been in Korea for nearly fives years, and I'm usually the one giving the orientation presentation for new foreign English teachers (I actually ran into a teacher in the embassy on my second visit who attended my presentation in Incheon, lol). Add to the mix that while on paper (aka the contract) it says you 'must attend orientation' to work for whatever English program you're in if the powers that be (i.e. an education office supervisor) say don't worry about it that bit of ink on paper is meaningless and I was worrying about nothing. Even if I was a day or two late to the orientation as long as the supervisor wasn't bothered by it then no harm no foul, right? Well, almost . . .

Another factor was that I'd booked my flight with an agent my recruiter had recommended. It was a pretty good deal and I didn't bother to ask about cancelation insurance at the time--not smart on my part when there was a possibility that I might have to rebook the flight for a later date due to my visa not being ready . . .

The final thing, on top of all the other stuff, was that I began seeing on blogs and chat forums rumours about foreign teachers getting totally screwed by having their jobs canceled due to 'budget cuts and some schools not wanting a foreign teacher now because of Swine Flu.' The same foreign teacher I ran into at the embassy emailed me Wednesday night to say this had happened to her! I couldn't believe it.

I then began to worry that this could happen to me. Between worrying about my visa being ready for pick up, losing the money for the current flight I'd booked, and having to rebook it for a later date and pay AGAIN for another ticket, and then hearing it was possible that at any second I might get a call or email saying my job was gone . . . . yeah, I didn't sleep.

But everything worked out! I actually made that my internal monologue mantra for the entire bus trip to Toronto Friday morning to help keep myself sane . . .

Anyways, everything worked out and I'm back in Korea in a PC Bang (Internet Cafe) writing this blog. I went to bed last night around 10pm and woke up at 4am . . . not too bad.

This morning Julianne and I will head to Seoul High School where we're supposed to meet other teachers heading to the orientation. We'll jump on buses and then head to Suwon where the orientation will be held for the week.

Well, that's about it for today. I'll try to write as time and opportunity permit this week. I don't know if much of my usual blogging will be possible because computer access will be limited unless there is wireless that I can tap into with my laptop.

I'm really hoping that the orientation is a fun time and that I meet some cool new people.

Wish me luck,

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