Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Another year in Korea

Ok so I'm about to begin my third year here in Korea, and this year some things are different. For starters, I had to completely renew my visa. Meaning, I had to get an FBI background check and get my university diploma apostilled. In case you have to get a visa for Korea, please make sure that you give yourself about six months to do so. Sound like a lengthy process? That's because it is. You see, I sent my fingerprints to the FBI in mid November. It arrived in their system December 15th. My parents got the FBI background check on February 5th and tried to get it apostilled. However, the state of Georgia doesn't apostille federal documents so then they had to Overnite it Fedex to the US Department of State. They mailed it to the address that the FBI and the Superior Court Clerk's Office suggested to have it processed within a week. When they didn't get it back in that week, they called to find out the status on my document. They were then informed the address they sent it to was not the address to process it in one week but 2-3 months. Did I mention that my visa expires February 28th? Yeah, so that doesn't work out well for me now does it? Anyways, my parents made some calls, I made some calls, and my boss made some calls. My parents are still working on getting my background check, but my boss and I were able to get a two month extension on my visa. It was a miracle! I'm so thankful! However, I still know nothing about my background check...this weekend was Presidents' Day so obviously the offices were closed. It's funny how we get so excited about days off of work, but when we really need someone to be at work and they're taking the day off, it seems really inopportune. So yeah...stay tuned! Lol.

On to the next one, this year I'm getting a new apartment. I will be living a block away from my school! I'm really excited about this because right now I live about a 15 minute bike ride from school. I also live about two blocks away from Time World in Dunsan Dong (in case you don't know Daejeon, that's one of the prime shopping/eating/partying areas). I'm also a lot closer to my gym now. Really, I'm a lot closer to anywhere I really need to be. I will be living on the 10th floor. I have two huge windows overlooking the city. My apartment has a loft, a bigger bathroom, a bigger refrigerator, more closet space, and a washing machine with a dryer!!!!!! I haven't had my clothes dried in two years!!!! I'm pretty excited about that. Lol. The downsides: I have to take an elevator everyday (or walk up 10 flights of stairs), my bills will be twice as much, and they say not to flush toilet paper down the toilet (I still haven't decided if I want to try it or not). Lol. All in all, it seems like a pretty good deal.

Also, I'm getting paid a bit more. Since my bills will be higher, it's definitely a good thing!!! But none of the Korean teachers got raises this year even though it states in their contracts that they should get a raise. Most of them aren't too upset about it, but it makes me feel wanted knowing that my boss wanted me to stay so badly that he gave me a raise and a nicer apartment. Seriously, my new apartment probably costs twice as much as the one I live in now. I do feel badly and a bit selfish that I asked for and got what I wanted, but in Korea, that's kind of how things work. Foreign teachers (especially ones with experience) can usually find a better job somewhere else and will walk if they don't get what they ask for. Also, I didn't ask for nor did I get a raise last year. I asked for a different apartment but they didn't give it to me. So at the same time, I kind of don't feel as bad.

This year, we will only have three foreign teachers at the school. I'm kind of worried about this because I might have more classes, but at the same time, right now I'm working the maximum number of hours that I can before receiving overtime. So, if I get more classes, I will get overtime.

Anyways, I'm pretty excited about these changes, and I'm definitely looking forward to another year here in Daejeon. I move into my new apartment after orientation on Saturday, graduation is next week, and then the new semester starts the week after. A busy end to this semester and a busy start to the next one. I can't wait for things to slow down and get back to normal. I miss my regular schedule at the gym and now that it's warming up some, I want to start running again! I can't wait!!!!

11 comments:

Stacey said...

Hey, just passing through! I found your blog on a Google search--I just moved to Daejeon on Monday, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to find a gym!
I saw that you're a member of one and was hoping that you could share some insight.
Thanks!

I'm like a 10-15 minute walk from the Timeworld building :)

Melanie Chastain said...

I know of many gyms including one inside Time World. It would be better to know exactly what kind of workout you plan on doing and where you live. The gym I go to is a MMA gym and it is in Tanbang Dong about a 20 minute walk from Time World. However, if you don't want to do kickboxing or jiujitsu a different gym would be better. I am also going to start at a dancing gym next to Time World next month. If you live in Mannyeon dong, there is a gym at the community center for 5,000 won. It has all of your basic weights and cardio equipment but not much else. But yeah, just let me know more about what programs you want and what area exactly your looking in and I can help more. I know the Time World area well.

janep122 said...

hey! i was searching for gyms around daejeon and somehow i ended up on your blog...which is awesome cause you had exactly what i'm looking for! i'm a 24 year old Korean American who just came to Korea-Daejeon a week ago. I'm teaching at a hakwon here in Daejeon for year, and i'm looking to find a good gym to join. I'm not the MOST athletic person but i LOVE to have fun while working out. I've never kick boxed or learned jiujitsu..but have always wanted to learn! Even when I was back home (Baltimore, Maryland) i've always wanted to learn and try it out, but never got around to finding a good gym. Anyways--long story short...it sounds like you're at a good place and I also want to try out your gym. I live right by Tan Bang elementary school (do you know where that is? i read your other posts and it said you've been around daejeon for 2 full years now? so you probably do know where it is) I really want to work out and stay active while i'm here as much as i can...

thanks

Melanie Chastain said...

If you'd like, we can meet somewhere and I can take you there. However, I will warn you; I am taking a break from the gym for a month because I'm getting LASIK done and I cannot workout. I'm getting it done tomorrow so I probably won't be able to see well until next week. Do you have a cell phone yet? If so, you can e-mail me your number and we can choose when and where to meet up...my e-mail is melaniechastain@hotmail.com. I can introduce you to a few people at the gym and help you get started. There are several foreigners that go, but they are all guys and they don't go everyday. There are a few Korean girls that go often but they don't speak English well and they are all pretty young. You said you're Korean American, so how good is your Korean? lol. Anyways, there's an abundance of Korean guys (they're all pretty nice guys), but once again only a few speak English.

Mackenzie said...

Hello Melanie,
I am in Daejeon as well and I am a male and would like a standard weight gym. I work near the Sahmyook school and I signed up for a community GYM (5,000) but after attempting to work out there I need more if possible. I would like to know if your gym is just MMA or do they have weights as well. MY name is Mackenzie my email is carr0692@gmail.com please your insight is most welcome-Thanks in advance

Melanie Chastain said...

Hey Mackenzie! I sent you an e-mail a few days ago. I hope you got it. If not, let me know and I'll try again!

Anonymous said...

Hello Melanie
like the others I was searching for info on gyms in Daejeon and your blog came up..I am trying to find a gym that offers classes such as kickboxing or.dance or any type of aerobics...Im dieying to find a great gym...I see that you knew of one near or in timeworld for.dance...can you let me know more info...please lol :) my.email is LIGHTY2512@YAHOO.COM ...thanks

Tracy said...

I stumbled upon your blog after researching to come to South Korea to teach. I was wondering if you had any chance to go back to the States to visit family in your three years here?

I'm thinking of applying for the March term with EPIK or SMOE. Let me know your thoughts!

Melanie Chastain said...

hi tracy! sorry its taken me so long to get back to you.i went home after my last year and im going home again at the end of this month. with epic you should get enough time off to go home for quite a bit. i work at a hagwon so basically i only get to go home for a week.its a bit rough and im exhausted while im home and even more so when i get back.but i do love korea especially daejeon. you should totally try it. you are only promising a year of your life and you will aways wonder what it would have been like.my life in korea is amazing. ive met so many people and my life is so more full here than back in the states.i truly believe this is where im meant to be. just make sure to come with an open mind and open heart because korean culture is nothing like back home.

Risa Frans said...

I was just lived in daejeon for 4months to study abroad.... but i got bored in here because i can't find funplace to go... just spendibg my time around working studying everyday... can you give some advice and i want to look for kpop dance class which is so hard to find i thought
Thank you and nice to know you

Melanie Chastain said...

Hi Risa,
I'm sorry it's taken me awhile to respond. I went to a dance studio called Joy Dance near City Hall. They don't speak English but they had a variety of classes. As far as other fun activities, check out a group called Daejeon Peeps on Facebook. People often posts events, including classes and parties. Also, I believe there is a woman on there who has a dance studio in Worlpyeong Dong which I believe has KPop classes. Her name is Aleksandra Shatalova.