So. I had to go to immigration this week. Had to. Why? Thursday is my two year anniversary in Korea, which means that my visa expires. Now. It's been on my schedule for months that the first and second graders had a field trip today, and therefore all my classes would be canceled. What better time to make an immigration run? I went to work with all my documents in tow, fully prepared. I mentioned it as soon as I got into the office to Co, who already knew last week that I would have to go this week. She tittered for a minute about what to do about my classes. I pulled out my schedule (which she made) and showed her that I had none. Oh! That's right! No problem, then! I set about preparing my documents, working out a stupid transport route (no co-teacher accompaniment this time around, which I had suspected and was fine with) and filled out the application form.
Five minutes into first period, a firstie co came down to my office, opened the door and gave me a curious look.
Fuck sake. Field trip has been arbitrarily moved to the middle of next week. Obviously my lesson is already prepared for the week, but I have yet to make the necessary copies or load the files onto my usb stick for class. Co walks in in the middle of this and quickly hands the other teacher her usb stick, which contains a pop song lesson, and the other co (a bit disgruntled) heads back out of the office. Co immediately disappears.
By now, I've worked out that it's going to take me about two and a half hours to get to immigration. I have to be at the study room by six. But I have four more classes on the schedule that I may or may not have to teach. I prepare all my materials just in case, and sit and wait.
Co comes back. I ask her if I am teaching today or not. She gives me a puzzled, uncomfortable look. A bunch of non information about possible answers is tossed around. I obviously already know what all of the possible answers are -- I was really just looking for the one actual answer. Something about moving one class to Wednesday and one co-teacher being sick, one class being possible to cancel. Could I just teach third and fourth period and then go at lunch time?
Well. I could do that. But given that I have to be back to my neighborhood by 4:30 at the latest in order to make it to the study room on time, that would mean that I would have to a. not eat lunch and b. possibly cancel my appointment at the study room. It's now the beginning of second period. Co says she'll try to work it out and disappears.
The part that kind of gets on my tits is the part where the first and second grade teachers are technically responsible for letting us know about any changes to their schedules, and when they failed to do so, I'm expected to not eat all day and cancel my plans (which would have been no problem, had they been personal, but was a problem since it's an actual commitment to other students, paid or not) and scramble to get a lesson in order to pick up all the slack all on my own. And I feel like a cunt for objecting. So I didn't object. Technically. I just pointed out what it would mean for me to take the classes, rather than having the co's take them. And I let it just set there, uncomfortably, until Co sighed and set about making various phone calls.
Sometime during second period, before I had any answers, I texted the main teacher at the kongbubang to let her know that I wouldn't be able to make it tonight. Because, in the case that I wouldn't be able to make it, they would have to find a replacement. And I, unlike some people, like to give people notice about things like that. I figured that even if I did manage to get fourth class off, I still had no way of predicting how long immigration would take, and sending a text at 5pm letting them know that I would be missing my class at 6pm was just too awful. I felt bad enough not having let them know a few days in advance.
Ten minutes before third class started, I was informed that fourth class had indeed been taken care of, but I would be teaching third. Phew.
It's not terrible. It's certainly not unexpected at this point. But it is annoying. Especially when they kind of look at me like I'm a cunt because I'm telling them that, one way or another, this has to be done by Thursday. I'm a foreigner -- I can't help it. The icing on the cake was when one co-teacher looked at me and said, "But if you are one day late I think it is no big problem. Just have to pay a fine."
No. It is not 'no big problem' to let your work visa expire while you are in the country. Whether it's just a fine or not, this is my life and job we're talking about, and I would rather not risk it because you don't want to cover a class that, either way, one of us has to suck it up and teach. Thanks for the support.
Well, that was negative. Some two hour bus ride anecdotes to cheer the mood a bit then:
- Was lucky enough to have every mother on the bus sit near me so I could play with babies nearly the entire time. I'm always curious about at what age they realize I'm a foreigner and I look different and weird. Sometimes even really small babies can give you the widest-eyed gazes of amazement. But that might just be what babies do. I don't know -- I didn't have much interest in babies before I came to Korea and became a teacher, and tended to stay as far away from them as possible.
- Had some college student sit in the seat next to me without a divider between us. He sprawled all over me and ground his elbow into my hipbone and then held his phone out really far and started playing with some English function. I've seriously only ever had this happen in Incheon. Sometimes you just want to shout, "YES I SEE YOU!" and be done with it. He also made me awkwardly straddle him to get out of my seat (which is awful in a pencil skirt and heels), only to hop up right behind me and get off at the same stop.
- Saw a man carrying a child-sized Jesus in crucifixtion-position (minus the crucifix) as if it were an actual child into a flower shop. It was surreal.
- Whole portions of West Incheon literally smell. Like, infiltrating-the-bus-from-the-outside-with-closed-windows-for-miles smell. My neighborhood may be a craphole, but it's not as bad as it could be.