After taking the Easter weekend to relax with family and friends, it’s been nonstop action for me as I prepare to leave for Korea on Thursday morning.
I began packing my bags on Monday. As I looked at the bed, piled with clothes and various indispensible electronic devices, I felt a little depressed. Will I really need all this stuff? Can’t I just buy new stuff once I’m in Korea? Will my bags even hold it all? I can’t answer the first two questions for sure, but it turns out that my bags will easily hold it all. In related news, I’m now a huge advocate for compression bags.
Later that night I received something like eight phone calls as my recruiter at Adventure Teaching tried to sort out a flight itinerary. They decided I should leave Thursday morning on a 7:35 flight to LAX.
Tuesday I drove to three hours to Atlanta for an interview with the Korean consulate. It was a group interview with four people including myself. As we sat in the waiting room, waiting on the fourth person to arrive, one lady said she’d been busily preparing for the interview. She’d heard that we might be expected to know things about Korean culture, history and current events. I spent the next several minutes vainly trying to recall the country’s president (it’s Lee Myung-bak).
It turned out that the interview wasn’t much of an interview. It was mostly stony silence punctuated by occasional questions and politely given answers. Our interviewer, a tall, stern-faced Korean man, flipped through each of our files and asked for clarification on certain items. He looked at a university transcript and asked one girl how she felt about her GPA. “Not good,” was her reply. When he came to me, he looked at my resume and then asked why I was going to Korea – grad school gave me some solid additions. “I’ve been partially employed for eight months,” seemed to be the simplest answer.
After the interview and a great Cuban meal for dinner, I walked back to my hostel and met a Belorussian-Canadian who’d just returned from Korea only weeks earlier. He offered to teach me the Korean alphabet. “It was designed to be quickly taught to illiterate peasants,” he said, “so I’m sure you’ll figure it out.” An &hour later I could read, write and properly pronounce every letter. This is important because I can now confirm that I’m at least as smart as a medieval Korean peasant.
Now it’s Wednesday morning and I’m dipping doughnuts in my coffee, waiting for the time when I can pick up my passport from the consulate. After that, it’s back home to get my bags, then I drive an hour to my mom’s house where I’m staying the night. Tomorrow morning, she’ll deliver me to CLT at the ungodly hour of 5:30 a.m. When I arrive in Seoul, the local time will be 6:32 p.m., Friday. The flight across the Pacific takes a whopping 13 hours, the longest I’ll ever have endured. Given my track record with successfully sleeping in flight, I expect to go more than 24 hours without hitting a REM cycle. I can’t wait!