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Step 149 of the 150-Step Visa Process

It’s tantalizingly close. Too far to really get a clear picture through the fog, but I can sense Korea just on the other side of it, like a magnet pulling me to my new home and new adventure. I should probably begin packing my bags, though I’m tempted to leave with just my green backpack. Be reasonable now, Coleen.

After six months of gathering documents, a national FBI-Background Check, passport-style photos, cashier’s checks, diplomatic apostilles, more documents, notarizations, official transcripts, again more documents (this time the same as some already submitted), and a Visa Issuance Number from the Korean Immigration Service: I have the last things to send to the Consulate in San Francisco. I’m also out at least $500.

Oh, bureaucracy. There’s no magic wand to wave and get an apostille or background check faster. This is just part of the traveler’s life.

If all goes according to plan (which is ridiculous to even write since it never truly does), I will be leaving for Korea in one month. My new home will be Suwon, just south of Seoul, and I’ll be teaching English for students in 4th-6th grade.

And I will be there a whole year.

I’ve not known where I would be living in six months for the past five years. Every few months, something new came along to shuttle me to a different apartment with different roommates and different situations. It’s a fairly typical Generation Y experience, even taking into account my penchant for actively seeking opportunities to travel and move.

Fear not. This blog will not morph into some TEFL idea board like many blogs of nonnative teachers in Korea. Even when I tried to subjectively chronicle my South American Adventure on my previous blog, it ended up being as much about my inward journey as the outward progress (and lack thereof). This experience is slated to be a near polar opposite to my first foray into teaching English.

Surprisingly, and perhaps because I know that the visa could still be denied for some errant letter out of place or some secretly offensive meaning of my last name in Korean, it all feels a little distant. I’ve successfully cocooned myself in a routine of full-time work and suburban living since my return from France this fall. I’ve never been to the Asian Continent before, which doesn’t help my fuzzy outlines draw any nearer to focus. I’m slowly making progress on the Korean alphabet, and I can sound words out…even if I have almost no idea what they mean.

This is me. I feel most free and most me when I throw myself headlong into the unknown.

Deep breath, and send that visa application with good vibes clinging to it. Pray silently that your travel karma is good enough to warrant one more encroachment.

12 comments on “Step 149 of the 150-Step Visa Process

  1. Sending you good vibes for your Visa. I have also foudn that while I am trying to write about planning a trip to Peru that end up writing more about my own personal journey. It is almost like the metaphor is just too tempting 🙂

    1. Coleen says:

      I was in Peru last year for almost a month! It was great, and challenging.

      1. Coleen says:

        Peru’s poverty and social history make for an eye-opening experience if you get away from the tourist traps.

      2. I have focused so much on their old history – I think I need to go research their recent history – thank you.

      3. Coleen says:

        The Shining Path recently acquiesed. That was a huge deal, safety-wise. Just don’t expect Peru to be easy or touristy. I had been living in South America for half a year, and it still was very tough.

      4. It will still be a couple years before I go – so I have losts of time to learn. Thank you for all the valuable info!

  2. Fantastic news! Or, as they might say in Korea, “환상적인 소식이!” May Fortune smile upon your completed paperwork and passage overseas.

  3. sounds amazing! You obviously don’t choose the easy places to move to, but i love it that you go outside the norm and learn more about where you are and what’s going on

  4. oh, and good luck on the visa!

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