Pre-departure

Rather than start an entirely new blog, I have decided to add my thoughts and experiences from South Korea onto WittyLMT.

The Pre-Departure:

In April/May ish, my friend Ben mentioned to me that if I was interested, I could take his teaching position in South Korea. He had been there for two years and was ready to see his family again. He sent me the necessary steps for receiving a visa and I followed it. I got my fingerprints taken and sent them off for an apostilled copy of my FBI background check. I got my degree notarized and apostilled also. The degree took about a week. The FBI check took a few months. I interviewed with Wharton Masters via phone in mid-June and was officially offered the position. They asked if I could be in Korea by August 26th and I said ‘Yes!’

And so the waiting game started. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting for my paperwork to come back. At mid-July all the paperwork returned. I sent it off to the school in South Korea. They sent it off with my signed copy of the contract to apply for a visa issuance number. ((You need the visa issuance number to apply for an E2 visa.)) Round 2 of waiting game. I checked my email every 30 minutes for about 2-3 weeks. In the second week of August I checked my email and saw the words “VISA ISSUANCE NUMBER!!” Holy macaroons. It’s starting… I sent off my application and paperwork to the Consulate of the Republic of South Korea in Atlanta, GA and started packing up my room. Ben told me that once the visa arrived, they would book my ticket and I would be showing up in Korea.

Another 4 days of constantly checking the tracking number of my visa. Then it was there. Arrival date expected. And before I knew it, the USPS delivery lady handed me the envelope. And within it: my visa issued passport. Amazing. Then I went into an even faster and more desperate packing mode. Packing my room so it wasn’t a mess for my mom. Packing my suitcases for seasons I have never experienced (winter? fall? i dont understand). My poor mother was on a cruise but knew that there was a possibility that I wouldn’t be there when she returned. I barely slept that night. But when I finally woke up, I saw the email with ‘Flight information’. It was Thursday morning and my flight wasn’t until Monday. MONDAY!? I wouldn’t get to Korea until Wednesday. Only 2 days of ‘prep’ and settling in before I start teaching? I was a littttttle bit disappointed. I sent the flight info to my family members. They rejoiced that I had a few extra days. I sulked a little.
Ruh-roh. I received an email from the company that booked the flight asking for the credit card and license to be uploaded with a signature. Hmm sounds sketchy. I notified Ben and he said ‘screw that! cancel that sh*t!’ So I did. And I told him he could always book a little bit earlier. So Ben and I sat on Skype for a few hours scouring over flights. We found a few for departure on Sat, arrival sunday night. But they wouldn’t book through for some reason. So we tried again for departure Friday and arrival Sat night. And it went through. WHat!?! It’s thursday late morning/afternoon and my new departure time was 8am from Orlando on Friday morning. Holy shit. This REALLY was happening. I notified the family and they all scattered around frantically trying to wrap their heads around this less than 24 hour notice of leaving. But I was ready. My younger brother and dad came up from Sarasota that night. I visited my uncle who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. My dad, brother, and I had sushi for dinner. But there was one little problem. I didn’t have the flight information yet. Yes, it was confirmed, but Ben hadn’t sent me the information. If my flight is at 8:00am… I need to be awake by 5:00am. So I waited for Ben to wake up. And waited. Around midnight, Ben sent me the email. I had my confirmation number and I checked in. My dad cried a bit, my younger brother smiled. My older brother barely realized I was leaving. I made sure I had what I needed and called my dog to sleep with me in the bed (oh was she excited). I slept.

I woke up. I snuggled with my dog and shed a tear because I was leaving my best friend. And she wasn’t as aware as she was last time. When we woke up, she barely knew what was happening. I gave her my hug and kiss. I gave my cat a hug and kiss (although he didn’t really care). I grabbed my bags and was in the car. My dad took the longest way to the airport possible. Even taking a toll road when he didn’t have the epass. I got to the airport around 6:30am. Said bye to my family. Security. Snacks. Plane. I’m on my way.

As I nodded off with the comfort of knowing I had everythi-. Shit. Shit. Shit. SHIT. I forgot a lot of shit!! I forgot my headphones! I forgot my cardigan. I forgot my international driving permit. I forgot my spices. I forgot my stock of 5hour energy drinks! I forgot my birth control!! ($400 worth!))  Smack my head. Landed in Dallas with an email from lil bro telling me what I forgot. Yea I know…. but guess who is getting a very early care package? I ate a pizza for breakfast. Half of it was buffalo chicken with bleu cheese, the other half tri-mushroom truffle with goat cheese. DAMN good. With a glass of wine. At 11am. Why not? I had a 15 hour flight ahead of me.

I got on the plane. With a row alll to my self! For about 4 minutes. Then a guy moved from the middle aisle to my row. Bastard. I slept a bit. I watched a few movies. I slept a bit more. I ate a bit. I farted a lot. (not the stinky kind.) I slept some more. I climbed over a passenger several times to walk around and use the toilet. Korean air.

And then I was in Seoul. I hit up the immigration line and watched the other lines going so fast. I counted 17 people going ahead of me. And there was only one person in front of me. It took 5 minutes for him to understand that the customs lady asked him to remove his glasses. Another 5 to find his visa information. Another 10 of the lady checking his stuff. It was torture. But I was in Korea. I had one more flight to catch. I made it to an express bus and sat next to an American guy headed to the other airport also. We had a few laughs and story exchanges. He showed me his family pictures. I showed him my Vine videos. We parted. I was on my last flight to Ulsan.

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