Travel: Flower festivals in Korea

Ah, yes. Korean flower festivals. One of the many themed festivals you will hear about during the spring, summer and fall months. So far, I have been to three different flower festivals here in Korea. In this post I will share my thoughts on these festivals and some tips on if you choose to go to these festivals yourself.

Continue reading

Advertisements

How to: Never miss another package delivery in Korea

Receiving packages in Korea can be a headache. Delivery services typically will not leave a package at your residence if nobody is there to receive it at the door. Which can be a good thing if it is something expensive, but if you ordered a really really cool oven mitt (idk), or something not so valuable, then you probably are frustrated if you keep missing the delivery guy/girl. In this post I will outline what you can do to ensure that you receive your package without stress.

Before you read further, this how to is intended for those living in an apartment building where there is no office that can receive your packages when you are gone (one room people, where u at?). It is also intended for people who are comfortable with packages being left unattended outside their apartment door when they are away. 

The delivery process typically goes like this – screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-7-46-30-pm

  • Delivery company will send a text message to the phone number you likely supplied during the ordering process (if you ordered from online). This text message could include information like the time frame in which the delivery person will go to your apartment to attempt delivery
  • Before immediate delivery the delivery person will CALL the phone number. During the workday this can be difficult to answer, and I became wary of constantly asking my coworkers to answer the calls. Take initiative. Be an independent foreigner (kidding, ask if you want).
  • If nobody is home to accept the package, and if contact is not made, the package will not be left as it typically is in the US with services like USPS.

To ameliorate this problem, you can text the delivery person to leave the package outside your door. To do this simply text the following message –

“택배는 문앞에 놓아두시면 됩니다. 감사합니다. TYPE YOUR ADDRESS HERE.”

img_1931

The message roughly asks the delivery person to kindly leave the package outside your door.

The delivery person may choose to respond to your message, or they may simply leave the package. Really depends on the person.

I’ve also had the delivery service (looking at u CJ express) text me saying they just went ahead and left the package at the CU convenience store on the corner, which i’m 100% okay with.

Hopefully this quick hint will get you your packages with less hassle and give you more independence from asking your coworkers every time the mail man calls you from that creepy unknown caller ID when you are at work.

 

Ad astra per aspera,

Jeffrey

likeshare

 

 

How to check the status of your Korean Visa Application

**DO NOT CONTACT ME ABOUT YOUR APPLICATION**

** अपने आवेदन के बारे में मुझसे संपर्क न करें **

Applying for a Korean visa can be nerve wracking. Even if you have tracked your application through the mail, once it arrives at the embassy or consulate, there is black hole of wonder on where your visa is, in relation to the application process.

Well, wonder no more! At visa.go.kr you can search the status of your visa by providing simple information you submitted on your application.

Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 5.54.22 PM

If you aren’t proficient in Korean, go ahead and click the English option in the navigation of the webpage in the upper right hand corner.

Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 5.54.48 PM

Proceed to click “Check Application Status & Print”

EPIK applicants: Search using your passport # and enter your name as it appears on your passport in [LAST NAME, FIRST NAME, MIDDLE NAME] format. Click on the calendar icon and navigate yourself to your date of birth and………voila~

Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 5.44.11 PM

Click “search” and you will presented with a status table below the search box indicating your receipt number, date of application, status of stay, and where your application stands within the application process.

Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 5.44.18 PM

And there you have it, no more wondering!

Ad astra per aspera,

-Jeffrey

likeshare

**DO NOT CONTACT ME ABOUT YOUR APPLICATION**

** अपने आवेदन के बारे में मुझसे संपर्क न करें **

Korean E2 Visa Application – US EPIK Applicants

Before you continue please consult with your designated consulate for the official rules and regulations assigned to their specific mission~

I submitted my E-2 Visa application to the Chicago consulate in July of 2016.

What you will need

  • Notice of Appointment
  • Passport Photo – Try and get the Korean standard size 35x45mm
  • Passport
  • Copy of Passport information page (The glossy one and the signature page above it)
  • Money order
  • Visa Application Form – Download from your designated consulate/embassy website
  • Prepaid return envelope with tracking (if mailing)

Notice of Appointment

You will need to send the ACTUAL notice of appointment documents. Yes, you will have to part ways with this coveted certificate looking document so make photo copies if you would like a memento for posterity.

Passport Photo

△ Photo Requirements for Korean Visa Application Beginning September 9,2015, photographs must conform to the following requirements. 1. Photos must be color neutral, size 35×45 mm, with a length of full face 25×35 mm

1. Photos must be color neutral, size 35×45 mm, with a length of full face 25×35 mm

2. Photos must be taken against a plain, evenly lit and light background, without any mark or creases

3. Photos must be taken within the last 6 months

4. Applicant must be shown looking directly at the camera

5. No sunglasses or hats, except for medical/disability reasons

6. Photographs will be returned (and applications will be delayed) for the following reasons:

  • – The same photograph has been submitted as the previous passport, alien registration card, refugee travel certificate, flight attendant ID, etc. those were issued before six months.
  • – It is too difficult to judge that photograph is of the same person, (e.g. significant changes of face, hair color, lack of quality, without showing ears)

7. Photo Standards for Religious Apparel or Head coverings(such as Hijab, Veil, Turban, etc.) are permitted for religious purposes under the following conditions:

  • – Facial features should not be covered from bottom of chin to top of forehead.
  • – Full face should be visible without any shadows.
  • – Full face, eyebrows, eyes, nose, or mouth must not be covered, yet covering ears are permitted.
20160407232300624_EKODN1LA

Do NOT wear white in your passport photo

20160407232207399_6FFFIA9B

Regulations for Religious Apparel

Money order

money-order.pngI had never used money orders before this process, so this experience was all new to me. A money order is basically a check that does not have a personal bank account attached to it. Money orders can be purchased at any USPS location. There is a small fee associated with this service (~$1.20) and you can pay this with cash, debit card, or traveler’s checks. Wal-Mart locations will often also be able to provide this service.

Visa Application

visa.pngWhen applying for your visa, you may be asked to include an address and phone number in Korea on a visa application form. If requested to do so, you must list your Office of Education’s address and phone number (you should receive this information in your NOA packet. Do not list the address of EPIK or your recruiter.

The Chicago consulate visa application directions are somewhat…contradictory when it comes to photo size because on one part of the directions is says applicants must submit a 2x2inch color photo and then in another part it says that applicants should submit the Korean standard passport photo size of 35mmx45mm. I emailed the consulate and they responded that either size would be fine. I went ahead and used the Korean standard size.

Check out an sample visa application provided by KorVia consulting here 

Signed Contract

IMG_3598.jpgSign the bottom of each page of your contract which arrived with your EPIK packet and fill out the passport information requested on the final page as well. You will sign two additional copies at orientation in Korea, so the one you received with your NOA packet is merely for the visa application process.

Paperclip all these documents together and send it off in your tracked envelope along with a prepaid self addressed envelope (also with tracking. I recommend prepaid forever envelopes from the USPS) for the consulate to send back your passport with visa attached inside!

Track the progress of your Korean visa application HERE!

IMG_3706

Embassy/Consulate locations and their assigned districts

Consulate-General Address Phone/Fax District
Washington D.C. 2320 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20008 T:(202) 939-5653
F:(202) 342-1597
Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia
New York Main Office : 335 E. 45th St.(4th Fl.), New York, NY 10017 T:(646)674-6000
T:(212)692-9120
F:(646)674-6023
Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
Public Office(Visa Section): 460 Park Ave. (57th St.) 6th Fl. New York, NY 10022 T:(646)674-6000
F:(646)674-6023
San Francisco 3500 Clay Street San Francisco, CA 94118 T:(415) 921-2251
F:(415) 921-5946
Colorado, Northern California, Utah, Wyoming
Los Angeles 3243 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010 T:(213) 385-9300
F:(213) 385-1849
Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, South California
Boston One Gateway Center 2nd Fl. Newton, MA 02458 T:(617) 641-2830
F:(617) 641-2831
New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont
Chicago NBC Tower Suite 2700, 455 North City Front Plaza Dr. Chicago, IL 60611 T:(312) 822-9485
F:(312) 822-9849
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin
Seattle 2033 Sixth Ave., #1125 Seattle, WA 98121 T:(206) 441-1011
F:(206) 441-7912
Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington
Atlanta 229 Peachtree St., Suite 500 International Tower Atlanta, GA 30303 T:(404) 522-1611
F:(404) 521-3169
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virgin Islands
Houston 1990 Post Oak Blvd., #1250 Houston, TX 77056 T:(713) 961-0186
F:(713) 961-3340
Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Texas
Honolulu 2756 Pali Highway Honolulu, HI 96817 T:(808) 595-6109
F:(808) 595-3046
American Samoa, Hawaii
Hagatna 125C Tun Jose Camacho St., Tamuning, Guam 96913 T:(671) 647-6488
F:(671) 649-1336
Guam, Northern Mariana Islands
Anchorage 800 E. Diamond Blvd. STE 3-695 Anchorage, AK 99515 T:(907) 339-7955
F:(671) 907-0411
Alaska (Since 2008)
Dallas 14001 Dallas Parkway Suite, 450 Dallas, TX 75240 T:(972) 701-0180
F:(972) 701-0183
Texas DFW(Dallas, Forth Worth)

Ad astra per aspera,

Jeffrey

likeshare

 

EPIK NOA and Contract Packet – Fall 2016

CmzXvLtUkAECBcr.jpg-large

My NOA!

My NOA and supporting documents arrived this afternoon! FI.NA.LLY.

KorVia sent my documents on 7/6 and they arrived today 7/7. I am still so impressed at how quickly mail can get from one side go the globe to the next so quickly…

Anyway, so inside the packet there was a letter from the KorVia CEO extending congratulations from the KorVia team on my success along with orientation information, which had previously been provided online by EPIK coordinators on the EPIK Fall 2016 Facebook page and on KorVia’s Facebook page.

More importantly, my tentative (long and somewhat intimidating lol) contract was enclosed as well. This contract sample will be signed by me and sent along with my supporting documents to the Chicago Consulate for my E-2 Visa. Which looks like a headache waiting to happen but I will keep you updated!

Ad astra per aspera,

Jeffrey

likeshare

EPIK Placement – GWANGJU!

This morning I woke up to see the e-mail I have been waiting to receive for what seems like an eternity.

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 9.40.05 AM

Gwangju was my preferred location so I could not be happier. Of course, I would be happy with any placement, as I believe each city and province has its own personality and charms.

Now comes the wait for the notice of appointment, contract, and visa application. Exciting stuff!

Ad astra per aspera,

– Jeffrey

likeshare

That one time I almost died in Gyeongju

Okay so maybe the title of this post is a little overdramatic but…still.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 8.07.01 PM.png

Students at Bulguksa Temple

Back in 2013 when I was in Korea I went on a day trip to Gyeongju to visit…well…..Gyeongju. The city is located in Gyeongsangbuk-do on the southeastern part of the Korean peninsula. You may hear Gyeongju referred to as “the museum without walls” thanks to a rich cultural history spanning over 1000 years. In fact, the city and immediate region is home to several UNESCO-designated world heritage sites. On top of that, every school child in Korea visits Gyeongju with their school at least once.My tour would take me to Seokguram Grotto, Bulguksa Temple

My tour would take me to Seokguram Grotto, Bulguksa Temple (both of these locations are exquisite examples of religious and architectural masterpieces) , and the generically named “Gyeongju Historic Areas”. In the Gyeongju Historic Areas, I would be visiting the Tumuli Park Belt consisting of burial mounds, and Cheomseongdae.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 9.29.21 PMCheomseongdae is the one of the oldest surviving astronomical observatories in the world, dating back to the 7th century. At one time it could even be found on the 10,000 원 banknote. Symbolism can be found everywhere in the observatory’s architecture take for example that the 362 stones used to build Cheomseongdae represented the 362 days in a lunar year.

So the night I arrived in Gyeongju I wasn’t feeling so well after dinner. I didn’t think much of it and went ahead and fell asleep that night without really any problems..well aside from the fact that the wi-fi was not working, but I digress. The next morning I went ahead and got ready for the tours I had scheduled for the day and went down to the breakfast buffet. From what I recall, this is when things really started going downhill. Continue reading

Applying for an International Driving Permit (IDP)

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 4.15.33 PM.png

Countries that honor IDPs

There are only two private entities in the U.S. authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue an IDP. They are AAA and the National Automobile Club. As Korea is a member of the Geneva Conventions, it’s acceptable to drive for 1 year from the date of entry with an international driving permit issued from other members of the Geneva Convention.

As Korea is a member of the Geneva Conventions, it’s acceptable to drive for 1 year from the date of entry with an international driving permit issued from other members of the Geneva Convention. It is possible to drive in Korea, using an international driving permit issued by member countries of the Geneva & Vienna Conventions

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading

Goals: Studying for the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK)

If I write it for others to see, I will feel more committed and actually follow through with it…theoretically. While in Korea, one of my personal goals is to take the TOPIK, aka Test of proficiency in Korean. While many people who take this examination are doing it for academic or career-oriented reasons, my motives are more casual and personal. I know, it sounds strange to take an exam just for fun, but I want to challenge myself. Continue reading

The small details: Make the most of your EPIK application

Most of these suggestions are dependent upon your timing and personal preferences~


1. Apply directly

I say this even though I applied through KorVia consulting. The general rule is that recruiting agencies have a later application acceptance date (around April 1st) than applicants who apply directly. As an example, for Fall 2016 intake, direct applicants could submit their applications on February 1st, 2 whole months earlier than us recruiter applicants.

However, I HIGHLY recommend KorVia should you choose to use a recruiter!

2. Strategize your preferred location and be open to any location

forestCheck that box saying you are open to other locations if you cannot be placed in your preferred location! Being flexible is a huge deal.

Seoul, Busan, and Gyeonggi-do are generally viewed as the most competitive locations. If you have your heart set on a metropolitan area, you may be best served to go avoid listing Busan and Seoul, and instead, apply to a smaller metropolitan area such as Daegu, Ulsan, Daejeon, Sejong city or Gwangju.

In other words, choose a less competitive metropolitan area or else you may be placed in a place like rural Gangwon province (no hate on Gangwon, though. They have the Olympics coming up!). Rural areas have their own charms and you may find that you are best served in the countryside.

Of course, by all means, if you really want Seoul or Busan write it down. Continue reading