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Hello Visa!

August 20, 2009

I called the consulate today to see if I could pick up my visa; that call really made me worry about teaching Koreans. The receptionist asked for my name and I said it…but then she said it back to me as an entirely different name and asked for me to spell my last name. Now, as somewhat of a linguistics enthusiast, I pride myself on being able to recognize a variety of sounds and match them to letters that reach even beyond that of the English alphabet. That said, I did recognize about half of the letters the receptionists repeated back to me to supposedly spell my name. I respelled and enunciated the letters especially slowly and clearly….twice and eventually I just assumed that I was understood and that my passport was ready. Needless to say, I wasn’t satisfied until I had both my visa and passport in hand.

Matt came along – he literally just received his Notice of Appointment and had to apply for a visa ASAP in order to make orientation. There’s nothing you can do, say, or pay to expedite visa processing and the consulate staff are not flexible at all when it comes to this process. So, despite the fact that Matt will miss training, have his pay docked and not be able to come over with me, they told him that he had to pick up the visa on Monday. Thank the heavens he did not purchase his flight ticket or he would have ended up as some others we saw waiting woefully at the consulate visa window:

Guy 1: Was in a similar situation as Matt except that he had bought a ticket for tomorrow, his visa wasn’t ready, and the consulate was unwilling to give him his passport to get on the plane, even without the visa. I think he mentioned something about being hit by a car. I wouldn’t wish ANY of that on my worst enemy…maybe on Tyra.

Couple Going on Vacation: Were planning on leaving for a long stay in Korea (starting tomorrow morning) and getting their visas. Unfortunately, they counted on this process taking about 10 minutes and were pretty upset to learn otherwise.

What I’ve essentially learned from this is that : Korean Consulate != French Consulate.  Well yeah, duh, but I totally walked in expecting warmth and smiles and superior customer service and a visa in less than an hour. Dwelling on this thought some, I realized that really Korea != Everything I Know and that I somehow have to balance the experiences of friends, forums, and family and waiting on actually being there to experience and adjust accordingly.

Hmm, I think I’m just going to take what I know and wing it.

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