Gift Poll Closed!

Good hustle, team! Thanks for everyone that voted! In the end, here's the top 5:

1. Salt water taffy
2. Board game
3. Red Sox shirts/hats
4. Maple Syrup
4. Chocolate
5. Whisky

I extended to the "top 5" so that I could get something for each group. I'm also gonna eliminate chocolate, just because there's already a candy up there (taffy) That said, here's what'll go down:

Host Family: board game, Red Sox shirts/hats
Co-workers: salt water taffy
Boss: Whisky

Hopefully I'll be writing a happy post in August!


True Story #3

Visa Adventures

Getting a visa was an adventure. It shouldn't have been, because the process is really very easy.

I, obviously, found as many ways as possible to screw this up. In the end, it resulted in a hilarious adventure to the Korean Consulate in Boston.

I assembled my materials, brought everything to the post office, and successfully posted my $17 overnight package to the consulate. As soon as I get back to the car, I realize I completely forgot to put a 2"x2" photo in the package, despite having the photos in my stack of Things To Put In The Application Package.

Well, I'll either get my visa anyway or they'll give me an angry phone call, right?

Two weeks pass and I've heard nothing from the Consulate. ETA Sarah calls me up and lets me know that the Consulate has gotten in touch with her about her application. I go into panic mode--why haven't they complained about mine yet?

I call up the Consulate and it's a repeat of my previous chickening-out episode: a barrage of Korean answers, which I blatantly ignore by responding, "Yes, I have a question about my visa application?"

I was supposed to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope so that they could send my passport-with-visa back. She never mentions if my application was actually accepted, but I need to drive down to Newton to pick it up or drop of a 2"x2" photo either way.

Directions to and from: check.
Fulbright documents: check.
Gas in the truck: oh fffuuuu--

Oh, I'll just fill up somewhere in Newton lol

That's when I realized I had also forgotten my Vera clutch, which contains my credit card, cash, bank card, driver's license.

I get in the Consulate (Koreans in the corner muttering to each other, all I can make out was "yogi" [here] every 5 seconds, so maybe they were signing something). The TV is showing some Korean soccer game, probably taped from a year or two ago. The visa office is right in front of me. I walk up. "I, um, was wondering about my visa?"

"Photo ID, please?"

Oh. Right. All of my photo IDs are in my clutch. Which I don't have.

"I.. I don't have any."

The lady looks at me suspiciously.

"I forgot my wallet at home."

"I am sorry," she says, even though it is PAINFULLY blatant that she couldn't care less.

A good 35 seconds of silence follow in which I just stare at her. I just drove an hour down here, running on the red empty line the whole way, I need this visa STAT, and here I am thwarted by a tiny Korean woman behind her desk. What do I do? That's an idea. "What do I do?" I complain to her.

"You don't have photo ID?"

"NO! I forgot my wallet! I live far away!"

"Ah, where you live?"

"New Hampshire!"

" your cards have your name?"

I hastly try to shove my entire purse under the window, only to bashfully pull it back and slide out my health insurance card and my frequent flyer card under her wary eye. She looks at them, at my passport, quizzes me on my birthday and location of birth, and then--MIRACULOUSLY--she lets me have my passport/visa.

Thank. Goodness.

I blast my KPop+Disney mix CD to drown out the incessent dinging of the Low Fuel light and manage to get home without running out of gas. So maybe that was a long story, but it was a stressful/hilarious day and I still cannot believe how lucky I am that everything managed to work out just fine.


Shopping to Look and Act the Part

Gracious. Where to start...

Meeting the ETAs

I met with a few of the other ETAs in Boston this past week. We talked about our understanding of Korean language and culture, our reasons for going, our excitement and our concern. I'm relieved. I mean, I thought they seemed like personable, easy-going people from meeting them online, but internet personalities are not always the same as an in-person personality. However, everybody was fanTASTic.

  • Nicole is a Korean adoptee and was our fabulous guide; she lives in the city, so she had us travelling the public transportation like no other. She seems like a great mind to pick, and might end up being the default Big Sister (언니) for the group, since she's got more real-world experience than those of us fresh-out-of-college kids. She has two semesters of Korean class like I do, so I'm hoping we get placed at the same level so that I know someone in the class.

  • Sarah shares my interest in Korean culture and history. She and I have a lot in common, from studying at large universities to our shared sarcasm and blunt honesty. She is hilarious and seems very laid back. She also has two semesters of Korean class, so she's another one I hope I get in my language class at orientation.

  • Jessamyn signed up for the adventure aspect and seems totally ready to tackle the craziness in Korea. She's a real sweetheart and a smart girl. She's the only one of us that had any reason for being an ETA, really, since her major is directly related to teaching English. She had to leave early because she still had graduation (congrats!) but we'll be seeing her again soon enough.

But back to the concerns, for me, my biggest concern is probably the teaching aspect. I feel obligated to make a positive impact on the kids, but I have no idea how or where to start.

Until this week!

I visited a teaching supply store and was absolutely amazed at the amount of things I could use there. I picked up, among a lot of other things:

  • Stamps with English phrases (Good Job, Nice Work, Wonderful, etc)

  • Workbooks on idioms and short stories

  • New Hampshire and holiday themed posters

Walking out of the store with my giant white bag filled with teaching materials and lesson plan ideas, I felt like just maybe I'd be able to pull something off. Maybe.

If I could act the part, I should look the part. I have a limited non-existent work wardrobe. I've never really needed one, since research labs don't exactly have a dress code. Or care, even if they did have one. So I bit the bullet (see look, there's an idiom) and invested in some nice professional outfits.

I'm excited to finally feel prepared for this, even though I still have a month of panic attacks and anxious waiting before I even get to Korea.