Wednesday, November 19, 2009

Moving to Korea is not for people who like plans.  As I previously mentioned, our best intentions were thrown for a loop, and we’re coming up on the last leg of a three-and-a-half month hiatus in Cleveland, Ohio.  The good news is that we did finally get jobs as English teachers.  Amazing ones, I believe.

The last and most important part of this process was to secure an E-2 visa.  We decided that since we had to go back to Chicago anyway to get our visas approved by the consulate and that we had unexpected time on our hands, we may as well drive west and just keep going.  A good old American road trip sounded in order.

But just like the rest of these last few months, obtaining the visas has also been an exercise in patience.  Oh, my Grammarie would have been so proud!  Originally we pictured a weeks-long drive through just about every state west of the Mississippi.  But that visa number just wasn’t showing up in my inbox, and each day the trip became one day shorter.  Our future Korean employers obviously didn’t understand the urgency of my need to play many games of Highway Bingo and Guess That Smell.

We finally received our numbers and took the earliest available appointment with the consulate.  With Thanksgiving around the corner, our trip became a respectable two weeks, ending with us right back home on the morning of Turkey Day.

So, the visa part of the trip.  Returning to Chicago brought of wave of unexpected excitement.  We became enamored with the city all over again.  Of course we were looking forward to seeing our friends, but I hadn’t expected every sight and sound to jump out at me the way they did.  Every building, light, siren, train, crackhead.  I’d missed them all.

The appointment with the consulate went well.  It’s basically a formality for all English teachers, but you still hold a certain poise and respect for the culture when putting yourself at the mercy of the man stamping your paperwork.

I could see the nervousness in the other teachers’ eyes, especially the other couple that interviewed with us.  There’s that lingering thought – what if we got this far only to have something get messed up now?  It could happen.  We were all in the same boat.  Except this one kid.  Admittedly, he was young and just out of college.  But let’s just say that, God, I hope I was never that douchey when I was 22.  I realize this is an almost impossible statement.  Everyone at that age has their moments.  I’m sure even Gandhi, at 22, said something to someone somewhere that made them roll their eyes.

So we sat there, listening to this kid talk to everyone around him about his background in Lexington, Kentucky, his dad being a major player on the alternative scene (whatever the eff that means) and how the sushi at gas stations in Japan is sooo much better than the best of the best in America.  We even heard this little nugget when he explained how he chose teaching in Korea as his profession.  “Well, I’m an artist, so I need my studio hours and my party hours, so teaching should be pretty good for that.”  Please, if there’s any reason not to relocate to the other side of the world to teach children, it’s because you’re an “artist” who needs your party time.

But it was when we were in our interview and he said to the consulate that he was studying the Korean language and alphabet and it was, you know, not that hard that I was like DUDE, SHUT UP!

So I guess not all of us walked in with a sense of humility.  But, point being, if that dude got a visa I think we did OK.  Something that finally made me put my nerves at ease during this whole process.  Thanks, douchey kid from Lexington!

Ok, next up, the road trip.  As I write this, we are a few days into it, driving between the Grand Canyon (amazingly breathtaking, why have I not seen it before?) and Las Vegas.  I’m keeping tabs on all the fun things we are seeing and doing, taking photos and videos.

When we get back, I’ll post a Photo Album of our exploits across America.  Rock, flag, and eagle!