Leaving Korea after two years was bittersweet. While I didn’t always love my life there, I can say I was much happier after I quit teaching! Ha ha. What I will miss most is my friends. I feel like I really made some genuine, lifelong pals there. I am kind of sad about going home where my network is much smaller. In Korea you can bond quickly with other English teachers as you have so much in common. Also, it is easier to get lots of people to do fun stuff together… No one has kids, no one works on the weekends, and everyone has enough money to have fun. For example, I would never be able to get such a big group to go camping together back home in NC. Also my Korean friends are so thoughtful and sweet. They all got me awesome farewell gifts and wrote the sweetest/saddest letters and cards.
My official farewell dinner was last Sunday night at my favorite Indian restaurant. 19 people total!
During my last week I met up with as many people as possible! Then on my last night ten of us went to my favorite Korean restaurant.
Ohee couldn’t make it to either dinner so she went to the airport with me yesterday morning. And cried!! I don’t like goodbyes so I laughed instead. I’m so awkward. But I will see her again when I am the Maid of Honor in her wedding in August!
Here are the awesome presents I received…
I will always remember my time in Korea fondly. But I am also eagerly anticipating my future, which right now entails traveling for five weeks and then returning home!
Last week I went to cash out my pension as a lump-sum payment. The process was pretty painless but I thought I’d detail it here for those who need the information.
Editor’s note: You will need the following documents and information:
- A one-way ticket out of Korea
- Your ARC and passport (or at least a photo of your passport’s information page)
- For those wishing to have the money transferred to a bank account in their home country, a bank statement or canceled check to prove ownership of the account
- Account number, bank routing number, and SWIFT code (if possible)
You can also have the money deposited into a Korean bank account, for which you’ll need a bank book.
If you live in Bundang, the pension office is in Yatap. Take exit 4 from the subway station, cross the street, and turn left at the Home Plus/CGV building.
You’ll see signs like this along the way:
Walk a few blocks down to the Korea Design Building.
Once in the building, find an elevator and go to the 4th floor, then follow the signs to the NPS office.
Go to the desk that says “lump sum payment”. Take a number from the machine near the door. You’ll select “lump sum payment.” If an attendant asks why you’re there, just say “I want a pension refund.”
You need to bring your passport, ARC, American bank account information (including branch address and routing number), and plane ticket out of Korea. (I don’t have an ARC anymore since I canceled my teaching visa in January and unfortunately I didn’t have my ARC number on me either. They informed me that without it I wouldn’t be able to get my money! Luckily I called Daniel who searched my email and found the number. Yay!) The money is deposited in your bank account approximately one month later.
The Lotus Lantern Parade is an annual event in Seoul held in honor of Buddha’s birthday. From the Visit Korea website: According to Buddhist beliefs, the lighting of a lotus-shaped lantern symbolizes a devotion to performing good deeds and brings light to the dark parts of the world that are filled with agony. The parade features more than 100,000 massive, illuminated lanterns in the shape of lotus flowers, stupas, elephants, dragons, and more. There is also a post-parade celebration, which includes the time-honored ganggangsullae dance (a traditional circle dance in which everyone holds hands to dance and sing among flower petals), the burning of written seowon (wishes and resolutions), and the release of lanterns of hope (a ceremony in which 100,000 wish lanterns are let loose into the sky).
Directions: It’s best to be near the end of the parade, so you can get some lanterns afterwards when they pass them out for free! From Jonggak subway station on line 1, take exit 2. You can walk a few blocks from there to Jogyesa Temple as well.