In twenty-three days I will be in Korea...maybe even twenty-two (depending if we leave on August 21 or 22)!
For the entire month of July we waited and waited and waited to get our contracts and what we need for our visas. Finally, on Monday (July 30) we got our packages. Inside the envelope was two copies of our contract, a letter explaining things, and our notice of appointment - no visa application or anything like that. Turns out, we have to get the application online, print it off and fill it out to send in along with the application fee (which is $65).
Reading over the information, we are told that we need to have the contract signed and taken to the nearest Korean Embassy/Consulate by August 3 - that is this coming Friday. Needless to say, we were very stressed and worried about that. You see, the nearest Korean Consulate to us in in Montreal - a 10 hour drive (and much cheaper than flying). We can't really afford to spend money to go up and get things taken care of as it would cut into the funds we'd be taking with us to Korea. This was causing some major stress, big time!
I fired off an email to our contact in Vancouver, and she replied back not to get stressed as things would be fine and she'd get in contact with the company over in Korea to find out the answers to our questions (including the whole August 3rd cut off date). We have been informed that the August 3rd date doesn't apply to us, but to those who applied for an ESL job through the Korean Consulate directly. We basically have until we leave to get our visas. So now I need to fill in the form, sign the contract and send it and the application fee and the passport to Montreal and wait. According to the Korean Consulate's website, it should only take 5 days.
The next "big" thing we need to do is book our flights. One of the girls contacted a couple of travel agencies to inquire about flights, when we'd need to book them, and if we can do so without getting the visas first (since we only have 3 weeks). I was told that international flights need to be booked at least 2 weeks in advance of traveling, but my friend was told by the travel agent that it is ok if it is less than 2 weeks (people book last minute all the time). Our problem is that the flights we were looking at are booking quickly so we'll have to at least have them hold our seats for a few days...but one agency said they can only hold them until Friday. So, we should have our flights booked by Friday. We aren't sure if we have to pay for them on Friday, or if we can pay next week or some time before we go. If we have to pay by Friday, I may have to leave work a little early to get to the agency in time before they close (they aren't open on the weekends during the summer). That shouldn't be a problem though because the supervisors are well aware that I'm heading to Korea for a year.
Other than all of this, my big task is getting packed - what to take, what not to take, what I can take in my carry on bags or what has to be packed in the checked bags - all that sort of stuff. I've been told that it might be good to check with the airline we end up flying with to see if we can actally take extra luggage - apparently some airlines allow you to take more luggage (like maybe another suitcase or two, thought I'm not entirely sure) if you are going to be gone longer than two months - a year is definately longer, so we might be able to take a little more. I've been getting hints and tips on things to take, things to not bother bringing over, things to take into consideration, weather tips, etc. I think what I'll do is create a list of what I want/need to take so that I hopefully won't forget anything...oh, and I will definitely be taking my laptop with me, that's a given!
So, please pray that the visa thing gets done and returned to us quickly, that there are no problems with booking our flights, and that things in general run smoothly. I appreciate all the prayers I can get! God bless, and have a Christ-filled day!