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Monday, 16 March 2015

Immigration: RATED 18!

Immigration: the place where peoples dreams are either made, crushed or not properly understood. The place where you come if you want to stay in the country. You can do a lot in 7 hours...work nearly a full day, go on an expedition, watch Titanic twice and then some. Or, you can spend it sat on an uncomfortable chair in a white painted room filled with beeping noises and other foreigners. This is where I found myself last Friday. Immigration.

 

We arrived at around 8am in the morning, thinking that it may be a couple of hours waiting time, but not much longer than that. We had left with plenty of time to spare as the place opened at 8.30am, so we were quietly confident that we would be first in line...how wrong we were! The queue reminded me of the sale at ‘Next’ every Boxing Day at 5 in the morning. It was that bad, although the people were more civilised and there wasn’t quite as many screaming children. We lined up to get our ticket from the man by the stand. If it wasn’t for the strict immigration uniform, than he could have been selling cheese on a Deli counter, or handing out free coffee leaflets on the street for all I knew. He didn’t speak any English so I was thankful that the Director of my school had come with me. If it is your first time in Korea, then make sure that another teacher, or the Head of the School goes to Immigration with you. There is a lot of confusing information here and you can’t guarantee that absolutely everyone will speak English.

When we eventually received our ticket, I looked down and saw to my horror that we were number 2170! Wait...WHAT?! There were definitely not 2169 people in front of us, were there? I soon realised that the ‘2’ part of this didn’t mean anything at all (Phew) so we were in fact number 170...still pretty bad but not as horrific as initially thought. The first hour came and went, with 35 people being seen. I worked it out (quick math) and found that it would be at least 6 hours until our turn. And so the wait began...



There are a few things I don’t particularly enjoy in life, and waiting is definitely one of these things. I looked around at the pictures on the wall, the TV screen showing what ticket numbers would be next, and the other people in the room. I thought to myself, well that must have passed some time. 2 minutes had gone by....TWO MINUTES. It was challenging to say the least. I had no working phone or tablet with me! BIG MISTAKE! So a word of warning to anyone who will be heading down to immigration soon - bring a phone, tablet or a book with you for amusement, because you won’t find anything amusing there. Trust me, it ain’t no theme park.

At lunch time after waiting for approximately 4 hours, we decided to up sticks and leave. Well, leave the building for lunch anyways. We went in search of some deliciously scrumptious food and boy did we find it. This was genuinely the most delicious food that I have ever eaten in my life. It was AMAZING. 22 dishes of pure joy. We also had a drink called Omija tea, which basically means ‘five flavour berry’ because you can supposedly taste five different flavours. Genuinely, this is a FACT. I could taste sweet, sour, salty, bitter and spicy...it was like a giant ball of greatness had just exploded in my mouth. Amazing. With most things over here I can’t really tell you exactly what it tastes like, because I have never tasted anything similar. Its completely different to anything I have experienced before and I am absolutely loving it. 


 
Yum! 

  Omija tea!

 
Not sure what this is called but it was LUSH!

 Bulgogi...translated as Fire Meat!

We arrived back at immigration to find that all of 20 people had been seen in the last hour. Oh god. Another few hours went by and we were eventually moved to a different area and then finally seen. HALLELUJAH! It took all of 5 MINUTES to have my finger prints taken and my documents passed over. She opened the letter from the hospital, looked me up and down and said ‘’all good’’! She then stamped the form twice, so I presume this means that I can now stay in the country. Yipee...3 weeks until I receive my ARC card and I’m ready to go. By that I mean open a bank account and get a phone contract. It has felt slightly like i’ve been living in the 90’s these passed few weeks without a phone, but dare I say it...i’ve actually kind of enjoyed it. However it is after all 2015, so I should probably as they say ‘get with the times’.

We left immigration feeling drained but relieved that this ordeal was over. Once home I googled some random stuff, and stumbled across a page on the Suwon Immigration website. Wait, what does that say? ...we could have made an appointment!




DAMMIT!

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