Home > Employment > I’m a legal alien (but I can’t prove it right now)

I’m a legal alien (but I can’t prove it right now)

Yesterday I went to Immigration with my various documents. I was also supposed to be waiting in for someone from the cable company. Bit of a conflict there. I went to the hagwon at 11 o’clock to give my key to someone in order for them to let the cable guy in. But the hagwon was closed – later Jon (the head foreign teacher) told me there’s usually someone here from ten.

It was past midday by the time I got to the Sejong Jongno Immigration office near Insadong. I took ticket number 297. The officials were dealing with numbers in the low one hundreds.

At about 2:45 my number was finally up. I handed over my stuff and was told I needed to buy a stamp from the booth at the end of the room. I did; it was 10,000 won. I’ve no idea why you can’t just give a fee to the official on the desk. I was told to come back next Tuesday to pick up my passport (and presumably my Alien Registration Card). The queue for pick-ups seemed much shorter and quicker-moving.

I was due in work at three. I got the subway to Sanggye Station and thought about getting a bus or taxi, but ended up just walking the half-mile back to Eunhaeng Sageori. Where, instead of going straight to English Castle Academy, I went to McDonalds – because I was hungry, and I knew I’d be starving by the end of the day if I didn’t have something soon.

At work, my lateness didn’t seem to the cause of any particular consternation. I told Jon I’d been at Immigration for three hours. The cable guy had been to my apartment, looked at the cabling outside and declared it to be working. When I tried my internet later, after a few attempts to connect, it did, but only for a couple of minutes, and thereafter not at all – better than I’d expected.

On my way out of work, Jon stopped me and said, ‘So, Sean, talk to me.’ My instinctive reaction was one of oh-shit-what-have-I-done. But he wanted to know – as I don’t volunteer my opinions – how I felt about work and all the shennanigans related to settling in. He told me I seemed to be doing very well in class – which bemused me (as compliments always do) and even surprised me a little.

He also said that the hagwon’s president, Sharon, in recent times has become uncommunicative and unhelpful – which is certainly my experience. Then, as he started talking to another teacher, I heard that the academy has lost more students. I have to wonder whether the place is doomed and Sharon knows this.

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