I’ve decided to stay another year, so of course I have to renew my visa. Here in Korea for teachers it isn’t that big a deal. It is actually pretty simple. Although it is a bit time-consuming. Mostly it is waiting for one piece of paper, so that you can get another piece of paper.
First you have to get your new contract. Now through SMOE, it is a bit more complicated, because they are a huge organization. I had to go to the SMOE office for a re-interview. I was a bit confused on why I needed to go and re-interview, because my school liked me and I liked my school. But when you work for the government of any country there are going to be lots and lots of hoops you have to go through, just so that things are consistent. After the interview I had to wait for the contract to be sent to my school. So I got the contract, signed the contract and then had to send it back to the SMOE office. Then I had to wait some more,while they did whatever secret ceremonies and processes that they do, and then go back to the SMOE office to get the contract.
Once the contract was in my greedy little hands, I then had to go to immigration. The immigration office in Seoul is really quite efficient. But if you are renewing, you should go to their website and make an appointment. The website is somewhat less efficient, but if you follow directions, and sacrifice the right small tokens to the right small gods, then you should have your appointment set up. Actually I had to get one of my co-teachers to help me navigate the site, as I’m still quite tech un-savvy
Once at the immigration office, the whole thing would have taken 5 or 1o minutes. But. I forgot the schools licence. Every school that sponsors a visa needs a special licence from the government. Even the public schools. I brought everything else on the list, but not that one piece of paper. Fortunately the immigration office in Seoul is pretty nice. They let me call one of my co-teachers who then called the school, and they faxed the licence. The immigration office accepted the fax, and I was done. Even with a major mistake on my part, the whole operation took only 25 minutes. And that should have been the last of it.
But. I work for SMOE, and they require an additional piece of paper. I had to get a second health check ( the way I understand it, if you work for a private academy you don’t need to do this) – SMOE mostly wanted the AIDS test and a drug test, but they required the whole series of tests.
I was surprised at how simple the whole thing was. I went to the hospital, told them what I wanted, and they had me fill out one form, then everyone there seemed to know what they were doing much more than I did. I got precious bodily fluids extracted, an X-ray taken, and a hearing and eye test. The whole thing from entering the hospital to leaving the hospital took all of 45 minutes. Pretty good if you ask me.
But. Then I was told to pick up the health check results on Monday. I went to the hospital after my classes, but made the unfortunate decision to run a few errands on the way. This was a mistake. When I got to the hospital, the international clinic was closed. One of the administrators for another section did try very hard to find someone who could help me, but in vain. I had to return. So I did, and apparently I have passed all the tests. I will live on for yet another year.
I then had to take the form with the results of my tests to SMOE office.
Now I am done. Whew! And I really do think the immigration process for teachers here is awesomely efficient.
Plus on the other bright side, my summer camp is almost finished! So now I’m off to take a nap, and then head out for some much-needed R& R. I think salsa dancing is the right venue for celebration.