Archive

Archive for the ‘Pre-Preperation’ Category

Pre-Preperation: Visa Part 3

July 8, 2007 Leave a comment

I’m still waiting to get my visa back. The Korean Consulate General in Chicago was quite helpful and fast. They did their job just fine, and because Sunlin College got many of the documents from me before hand, I had a visa approval number and things at the consulate went smoothly. What hasn’t gone smoothly is the US Postal Service, who have taken 5 days to get the mail to Chicago (which is about 10 hours away) and are on the path to taking another 5 to get it back. Certified, proper postage, nice cardboard envelope mail with a good address and a short destination. They took over two weeks getting to Korea, too. So if there is a lesson to be learned, ANYTHING you mail that is important should probably go through UPS/FEDEX/DHL/Anything else. At least, that’s been my experience so far.

Categories: Pre-Preperation

Pre-Preperation: Visa – Part 2

June 28, 2007 Leave a comment

My visa application is finally sent off to Chicago. Here is how it worked for me:

The people at Sunlin requested the information to prove financial capability (on my part)  and anything that the visa issuance people in Korea asked for. When that cleared, I had a visa confirmation/approval/pre-approval number. It seems to be referred to by several names. So, with that number, I called the visa office in Chicago and confirmed that I had all I needed (the website in the prior post lists what you need to send: $45 money order, a postage paid, addressed envelope for them to send back your visa, your passport and the filled out form you can download from the site). Sunlin provided guarantor information, as well. Then it was just mailing it off, certified mail. Now I’m waiting to get it back.

My suggestion for anyone planning to take this path, is allow for a month on the Korean side and a month on the American side. It may very well go quicker than that, but if it doesn’t, you’re in trouble. And, of course, order your Passport 2-3 months before that, because you have to have a passport to get a visa.

Categories: Pre-Preperation

Pre-Preperation: Visa – Part 1

June 4, 2007 Leave a comment

Finding information and websites for visas to Korea is a pain. It’s made worse by the fact that there are so many sites wanting to sell you visa processing (for twice the cost).

So here are some sites I found after deep searching:

http://www.dynamic-korea.com/ , a site for the generic Korean Consulate General in America. which has forms you can print. It directs you to contact your local Korean Embassy, which it doesn’t give you a list of or contact information for. I think it used to have these links, so maybe it will be added back in the future. Unless you live in a major city, you’re likely going to have to call the embassy nearest and then mail in your application.

http://www.travelguru.net/html/consulates/koreasouth.html has a list of addresses, numbers and other contact info for the the Embassies. This is nice, but the majority of the embassies don’t have email or website links, so you’re stuck using the phone (which I hate).

The American/Seoul Embassy Site from America is http://seoul.usembassy.gov/visas_for.html , and it contains very little information for Americans trying to get visas to Korea. It seems to have a lot of information for the inverse, so I suppose it’s worth something. For Americans, it simply points you to the Korean site above, telling you to contact the embassy closest to you, which neither site lists, necessitating the TravelGuru link.

I’ll be contacting the Embassy in Chicago tomorrow, which is the closest one with a phone number (2 states away). We’ll see how that goes. I’ll copy the contact info for that embassy below, in case someone needs it later. Considering the pathetic search results I got, maybe it will help:

Chicago

NBC Tower Suite 2700, 455 North City Front Plaza Dr. Chicago, IL 60611

T:(312) 822-9485
F:(312) 822-9849

Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin

Edit: Either I missed it the second time, or it’s back, but here his information on the locations for the Korean Consulate General in the US :http://www.dynamic-korea.com/consulate_service/information2.php

Categories: Pre-Preperation

Pre-Preperation: Things Happen

May 29, 2007 Leave a comment

Slowly.

I sent off my transcripts, my pictures and my letter. I’ve paid for my plane ticket. I feel pretty good. The money issue looms over me, but I feel like something will happen. Now I have to start worring about things like what I need over there, what I have to pay for now, and my visa. It should be a great experience for me, though. I’ll get a chance to learn Korean, teach English, meet some awesome people, get lost, spend half a year on the other side of the world, away from my family or anyone else I really know, in a place where they don’t speak the same language as me. I really am looking forward to it. To a certain extent, I look forward to the chaos.

I was surprised today. It was difficult to find the address for Sunlin College. At least, in English it was. This might point towards a general trend. I’ve heard mailing address systems in Korea are arcane and beyond comprehension.  Something to consider if you need to mail something but you don’t know where.

I’ve got a contact at Sunlin. He’s the one that got me interested in Sunlin specifically. He’s been so helpful. Quite a blessing. I’ve actually been blessed with great help at the college, from Koreans, friends who visited Korea, all sorts of people. Contacts quickly become the currency of getting things done and getting information. I suggest telling anyone who seems remotely interested in your trip about it. They might be able to help you, or find someone who can. Be likable and humble. Listen to advice, but don’t take it as law. Speaking of advice…

Advice:

For anyone considering a trip anywhere, I suggest getting your passport now. If you’re considering traveling abroad, you’ll need one, and they take (seemingly) forever to get. So you might as well get one before you have any plans, because most trips don’t seem to get planned far enough ahead of time to make getting a passport convenient.

Assume things will take more time than they should. If you have a set date something needs done by, do it several days before because there will be problems with everything, someone will need called that isn’t there, something will take a form you don’t have, a signature you can’t get, or an animal-themed key guarded by zombies.  Plan on it.

Assume everything will cost twice what you expect it to. Occasionally, things cost less, but for the most part finances are good to be pessimistic about.  At least, in the sense of planning for the worst. Don’t let costs paralyze you from actually don’t anything or going anywhere.

Always wear clean underwear.

Categories: Pre-Preperation

Pre-Preperation: Pictures and Basic Plans

May 22, 2007 Leave a comment

Get lots of passport pictures. I got 4 when I got my passport. 2 for the passport, 2 for the visa. Now I need 5 more for my college. Get LOTS of passport pictures.

In other news, things are coming along in bursts. It sounds as though I’ll be going to Korea some time in July to help with a pilot exchange program between Emporia State University (my current college) and Sunlin College in Pohang, South Korea. There I’ll be helping to teach English for a about a month. Then I’ll be a student there for a full semester (~Sept – Dec) where I’ll take Korean Language and Culture Classes. I’ll also be helping teach English classes while I’m a student. It should be quite busy.

On my list of things to get done:

* Enroll at Sunlin

* Get my visa

* Get my plane tickets

* Get a pocket translator

* Learn Korean

I’ll be happy if I can get 3 or 4 of those things done.

Categories: Pre-Preperation

Pre-Preperation: Getting Going

May 10, 2007 Leave a comment

For about four hours yesterday I worked to get paperwork going through my university. I don’t think I got anything accomplished. Processes and paperwork don’t line up between departments, and with the semester almost over, I feel like I’m running out of time. I have faith something will work out, but just what, I don’t know. I should find out on Friday. I’ll have to get a lot of paperwork done in a hurry, in order for it to work. Paperwork is not my strong suit. But if this is the worst stumbling block on the path to Korea, I’d be happy.

Another worry has presented itself: what is going to happen in the time between my July visit and the start of the semester (more on this when things become concrete)? Is my visa going to be a problem? Will I have a place to stay?

Like I said, I think it will work out in some fashion, but I’m trying to predict where the problems might show up. At least the predictable ones.

Categories: Pre-Preperation

Pre-Preperation: Introduction

I’ve never felt any need to have a diary before this. I despise the term Blog, but I’m sure I’ll start using it eventually. Anyway, the reason I’m making this now is because I finally have a reason to publicly detail a long, drawn out process in my life. I’m going to Korea.

When first researching going to Korea, some of my best information was from other people who had written blogs (sigh, using it already) about their trips to teach English in South Korea. I feel I should do my part and provide fuel for the next round of travelers.

Why Korea? Because I feel drawn there by God. I really didn’t know anything about Korea a year ago. But as I felt lead there, I did research, and I’ve come to love the country from afar. In some ways, it really seems like my kind of place. I guess I’ll see how true that really is. As I studied more, I got to meet many great Korean people. I hope I can meet others as friendly and outgoing when I’m actually in Korea.

On another level, the drive to go to Korea has become a mission. It has galvanized me into doing things. I started college again. I went to a church with services in a language I didn’t understand, where I didn’t know anyone, in a town I didn’t particularly like. I started studying another language, something I hadn’t done since High School. I got out and did things. In a lot of ways, just the act of preparing to go to Korea has changed me.

So what’s the plan? Right now, the hope is to go to Sunlin University in Pohang, South Korea. Maybe as early as July. Possibly until the end of the Fall Semester. We’ll see. I’ve already had one trip canceled and one I couldn’t go on because I didn’t get my passport soon enough. But it may have all been for the best. I’ll try to update things as they become more solid. But even if these trips don’t work out, I’m still going to push forward towards Korea.

So that’s my purpose. I’ll try to cover some of the planning stages, and I’ll do my best to cover my failures so that others can learn from them. I go to the health office tomorrow to find out if I really need any vaccinations. I’ll do without any I can get away with.

Here is my first piece of collected information: Bring lots of deodorant. It’s supposed to be hard to find, and expensive. I didn’t start using any until after high school, so maybe I’ll go back to that. Probably not.

Categories: Pre-Preperation