links i find vital

where it all started for me! (btw it starts off with like a min of music)
a seoul radio station interview about bssk
a bunch of interviews with black expats in soko
find family on facebook: Brothas&Sistas of South Korea

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

opening a bank account

i opened a bank account today. all you need to open a bank account is your passport. I wish i'd known, b/c i would've done it the first weekday i was here. i arrived on a saturday, and i think it was on monday or tuesday that I brought my passport to immigration to get my arc card (alien registration card). i didnt know it was a process that required leaving my passport there, so i was stuck with no passport for several days, unable to change any of my dollars to won. so again, be sure to change some money at the airport, guys!

my job suggested we use woori bank (cdi's official bank). my friend and i  went to a local branch in the area where we picked up our passports and arc cards. the bank teller spoke little english, but we worked it out. we just handed him our passports (with the arc cards in them) and a business card from our employer with the company adrs and phone number on it. we used the school number and adrs for our personal info on the account as well since we dont move into our officetels until next week, and we couldnt effectively communicate that we didnt have adresses and phone numbers of our own yet. anyways, he made xerox copies of everything and gave us bank books and atm cards.

with my job, they asked us to email them our bank account numbers along with the name on the account and they would deposit the reimbursement for our airfare. we'll be paid regularly via direct deposit on the 10th of each month. i imagine this is standard for most schools. just keep in mind the stuff about privacy, and you'll be set. er... if im NOT after a while, i'll be sure to update.

ok to recap; when you go to the bank, it would probably be easiest if you brought with you:
  • your passport
  • your arc card (tho u dont need to)
  • a business card from your employer, w/contact name, adrs, phone number, written in english and korean
  • your money to deposit
  • if you have a korean friend, maybe have them write a note for you to hand to the teller that says you want to open an account. at the bank my friend and i went to, we said the phrases "new account" "savings account" "new account" and he finally got it.
a little update, i opened a second bank account yesterday. There is no woori bank by my place that i know of, but there is a shihan bank on the next block as well as atms throughout my neighborhood and across the street from my job.

the bank teller spoke a lot of english, so he made it all pretty easy. i gave him my passport, my arc card, my adrs, my phone number, the school's (my job) phone number, and a wad of money to deposit.
now i can transfer money from the woori account to the shihan account from any atm machine. this is the same when you pay bills; youre given an account number and then from any atm machine, you can transfer money from your account to the account of whoever or whatever youre paying. easily done in english, b/c you can just press "english" at the start of the transaction.

sending money home

i sent money home for the first time this week! i sent this to my account i have back in daygo. should the procedure change any when i send money to my dad and my husband in future months, i'll update.
the teller spoke english very well, so he made it very easy. i did this at shihan bank, where i have an account. i gave them the name of my bank home bank, as well as my back home phone number, and adrs, (i changed my at-bank info to my parents adrs & #). Also he wanted the at-home info for the bank: adrs, number, etc. so, to make this easiest, i suggest that before you leave home:
  • go to your bank and let them know you'll be out of the country.
  • ask them about their procedures and fees to have money transferred from abroad.
  • get a business card with the bank info on it
  • double check your account number and bank routing/transit number
  • make sure the bank has your proper mailing adrs & number (ie, i changed mine to my parents in case any problems arise).
this entry in process

to send money home: some people send money orders home, or just straight send signed travelers cheques home... i dont suggest the latter... while still back home, i asked my bank about wiring money to my account from abroad. check to see if your bank charges a fee or percentage, and get their full address and phone number, your bank account number, and perhaps the routing number on your check, too. i ended up using an account i have back home that has my and my fathers name on it. i have my bank here in korea wire the money, then i can pay all my bills online like usual (student loan, credit card, whathaveyou), and my dad can have access to the money if something comes up. i wire XXX won at a time, b/c the fees are all the same... less when you send more... i periodically send a money order to my roommate back home to take care of my cats. they can only eat science diet.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

where to live

in process...

your job will probably give you a free furnished place to live.
i work for cdi, so we have to pay for our own housing.
i just used the realtor through my job to find a place, it was easiest.

suggestion: take pictures of your place as soon as you move in, and perhaps send copies to the landlord. this poor guy pulled a runner after one month in this dump.

websites to find a place:

womens-only goshiwons that are in hip, but also accessible areas of the city. This one is just up from Exit 1 of Gangnam Station. Rooms are 2 pyeong and cost about 200,000/mnth. Usual amenities. Bed, TV, desk in the room, as well as internet access. Shared washrooms, laundry and kitchen. The next one is in the middle of Apgujeong, just south of Galleria Dept Store. Same amenities as above. Right near McDonald's, Popeye's, Bigger Burger, King Taco, and other fattening places. 1.5 pyeong rooms, ranging from 280-350,000/mnth. (The more expensive ones usually mean that you have a window.) a look inside a goshiwan

Sunday, February 18, 2007

keep these in your wallet.

thank you to davester dogshed for the advice of
what to keep in your wallet at all times:
  • a business card from your school, written in english and hangul, with a phone number on it.

  • a card from the hotel you're staying in. many cab drivers dont go by street adrssess, but rather landmarks & such. there's usually a little map or something on the card from the hotel, or at least the hotel phone number so that they can call and find out how to get there.

  • if you already have a place to live, keep THAT adrs w/landmarks written both in english and hangul.

  • plenty of money. maybe you'll get super duper lost; with money you can say F* it and take a cab home.

  • spare set of apartment keys, maybe pinned in your coat pocket.

  • more info here and here.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

in search of

excluding all the military related and esl teacher groups (b/c there are many to be found online) interesting groups i've found for expats and other non korean seoul-ites thus far:

still looking for something for black people. what are some names for a group i'd start? deeper shade of seoul? seoul sistas & brothas? black seoul? the closest i've found thus far is a yahoo group Black In Korea, which sounds great, but it looks dead; no new messages or posts that arent spam.

Friday, February 16, 2007

black expats in seoul

i did a google search "black expats in seoul," and went through 10 pages until i gave up for now, but hey check it, my blog comes up in the search results on pages 2 & 3! :) i'll try the search again later. sister jane let me know that the most foreigners are in itewon, so perhaps the odds of finding my folks are better there, but that many are military. brothas in the service... hmmm... well, i'll leave that alone. maybe i'll try to start a social circle or group for brothas & sistas abroad.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

my medical exam

my job required a medical exam as part of employment, i think that all schools do. i actually got an email from X at cdi about a week before i was to arrive reminding me of the exam and cautioning me to not celebrate too hard before i arrive b/c the exam includes a drug test :)

the medical center was fairly easy to find; the subway here is excellent. so long as you know what exit # to get out of, you're straight. i say this even tho i have gotten hopelessly lost myself many, many a time already.

that exam was thorough! they did an eye exam, x-ray, took my blood pressure, a urine sample, measured my height and weight, did a drug test, and took blood samples. i think there was more, i dont remember, i did it a couple days ago. it didnt cost anything, i guess the school paid for it.
drink lots and lots of water a couple days before you get your exam. that way by the time you go in and give your urine sample, your pee will look all pretty and clear in the cup. dark smelly pee is gross. just my 2 cents.

i'd suggest getting an exam before you come too and do an hiv/aids test, just in case. actually, get tested for all stds; i'd read on eslcafe about some guy who got fired b/c he was hiv positive... or not as devastating but just as humiliating: what if you had like chlamydia or something? could've had that taken care of and all cleard up back home first! regardless, you must have an exam here in korea; i dont know of any place that would accept proof of a medical exam from home.

they didnt do what's in this picture, btw. i was paranoid that they'd ask me to undress or do a breast exam or something, and was all ready for a fight if they did; fortunately they didnt. a former teacher of mine from college is filipino, she's not even 50 i think, and she told me about how when she was in elementary school, the staff had her undress in the nurses office to make sure she was human b/c they'd never seen a filipino person before. oh my friend emmalyne, i think of you to this day. i hope youre well.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


on the desk to the left of the monitor of the computer in my hotel room were two full sheets of paper and one little scrap of paper, each crowded with messy scribbles on both sides of each sheet. i was compling a list of topics i had planned on blogging about one day, details on "lists" of reasons i think i'll be sucessful here in korea.

i've been scribbling notes since before i got here, thinking that a few months from now, i'll have them to refer to and see if they held true and then write about why each works. it wouldve been great, it would've been like a whole series of posts about b/c of how i think and feel and am, from the littlest details, is why i'm happy here. each post would've been titled things like, "Im Glad I Am" and "Im Glad I Brought" and "Im Glad I Know How To..." im glad i can do and like a bucket bath b/c the showers here are often just a loose shower head that's not attached to the wall. i'm glad i can and have no problem with hand washing clothes in the sink so that i can have clean clothes everyday and not sit around whining that i dont know where the laundry mat is and wouldnt be able to work the machine anyway b/c its in korean. like if i cant communicate with someone here, i dont get in a huff about no one speaking english despite all the english language schools everywhere, instead i know that im in korea and ought to learn to read and write korean. like i konw that if no one emails me or reads this website, it's not that no one is thinking about me, it's that people are busy and have thier own lives, and i am going to go out and enjoy my own. like i'll be sucessful and happy here at cdi b/c i came for the job and not the money... you get the gist. i would've fine tuned it all and wrote it out and it would've been great.

you'll notice that im using the past tense in referring to all my brilliant notes. this is b/c the guy that cleans the room threw my scraps out with the trash yesterday. son of a b.... >:(

well, this is a good opportunity for self reflection. how cool do i think i am if i trip over a little thing like a guy just trying to do his job... if my notes were so important to me, i shouldve kept them in my folder or my bag, and not laid out in a space that's not mine to begin with. *sigh*

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

my recruiters emailed me

my recruiters emailed me to check on me when i got here. i thought it was really nice.
Subject: CDI
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2007 18:04:09 +0900

I wanted to just shoot you a quick mail and see how you were doing. I hope that things are going well and that you are enjoying your first week in Korea. Best of luck and let me know if you have any further questions. Regards, Jason Nieuwoudt
On 2/13/07
Hi Jason, thank you for your email! I am insanely happy with CDI so far. Everything: the staff, the curriculum, the professionalism, all of it has exceeded my expectations. Everyone has been so nice and helpful. It's only day two of training but I feel like I've already learned a lot in how to improve my teaching. I am really excited to get into the classroom. Outside of the school, I am really liking Seoul in general. I'm really glad I'm here, and I'm so glad I'm with CDI. Thanks again!
Sent:Tue 2/13/07 10:47 AM
I am also happy that you seem happy.
I believe you are doing well.
Let's keep in touch..
Thanks and kind regards,

011 311 8242

double stuff... *tsk* im so immature.

hello blogworld! i have started a second blog, it's pretty much just the emails i've been sending to my parents. find it here. funny for those that know me that i write home so frequently, but my momma was so sad when i left:
"Peaches," she said, "Always wear your slippers in the house, anako." and "dont forget to put lotion on your elbows... (sob) ... and always respect your elders (cries)." aww... love ya, momma!
this here blog i'd like to serve as a useful read for the beginner checking out esl as it explains the process i went through before and shortly after i got here. i'll continue for a few more supa dupa fly posts with the more useful "how to" things: how i'll get my cell phone, how i'll find an apartment, etc. Once routine settles in, maybe we'll call this one quits. as a side note, there is such a wonderful selection of dark chocolates at all the convenience stores here. i may never leave.

Monday, February 12, 2007

tips for your flight

most important thing: change some cash at the airport. do it. dont be picky about the exchange rate, just do it. i arrived in seoul on saturday night along with a group of 5 or so, and some of my collegues were stuck with NO money, b/c the banks were closed on sunday.

 i flew from san diego to san francisco, then to tokyo, then seoul. uhm, i think the flight from san fran to seoul was about 9 hours? tokyo to seoul was around 2. my flight was at 7am or so daygo time, i was at the airport around 5am. i was tempted to try and check in late, in hopes of being bumped up to business class, but i'd have felt like a foolio if i dicked around and missed my flight altogether. i had everything packed in one carry on, and two large suitcases on rollers. i slept for the majority of every flight b/c i was hella tired. when i arrived at the airport in seoul, every sign is in korean and english, so i found my way around ok.

when i had to take the bus to coex per cdi's instructions, a couple of koreans came up to help me find the right bus stop and buy my ticket. i think one worked at the airport. they spoke little english, but were as sweet as pie to me. man, my writing is so boring right now. i'll re-write this passage later. anways, what i learned:
  • wear comfortable clothes in layers. if you want to dress business casual in case youre meeting your boss at the airport or something, be sure they're clothes youre comfortable in. i didnt bother b/c i was due to arrive in seoul after 9pm and had to find my own way to the hotel, not meeting any cdi people til the next day.

  • wear roomy, easily removeable shoes. for US airports, the security check is thorough and my shoes had to come off i think 3 times.

  • to add to that, try not to wear any big bracelets or belt buckles; anything that may set the metal detector off. your jacket has to come off, so wear a clean shirt... and not one with holes in it... like i did.

  • also wear matching socks... b/c i wasnt. ha! hey, we are laid back folks in southern cali, fo real! well nobody seemed to care about my silly socks, but still.

  • make sure you have a luggage tag on each of your bags, including your carry ons. maybe just a name, and add a very visible card inside with a home and overseas adrs & phone number. if you dont have an overseas adrs yet, use the school's.

  • check with your airport about luggage weight. it was 50 lbs for mine. i had one case at 43 and the other at 52, the lady was hella cool about it & didnt make me repack.

  • im glad i had those suitcases on rollers, b/c i had to get around by myself here and there and it made the bags much easier to deal with. doesnt seem like a biggie, i know, but having travelled before, nothing sucks your mood more than the little things like having to lug all kinds of stuff, no wheels, shoulders acheing fm the weight of your bags, while you're trying to figure out where you are and where to go.

  • along the same lines of the last bullet, try to keep your carry on small as possible. pack clean underwear, sample sizes of toiletries, and your paperwork. this way, if your luggage gets lost, you'll be ok.

  • the US airport wont allow any liquids/gels over 4 ounces in your carry on. really, only four ounces. you cant even bring your water bottle, unopened or anything. i had to eat my yogurt before going through b/c it was 6 ounces. try to pack your liquids in the suitcase instead.

  • liquids you do have (perfume, toothpaste, body wash, EVERYTHING) has to be in a ziplock baggie.

  • have some cash (hundred dollar bills) and change some money at the airport. i arrived in seoul on saturday night along with a group of 5 or so, and some of my collegues were stuck with NO money, b/c the banks were closed on sunday.

  • double check that you dont have any other prohibited items in your carry on. i had a lighter (for my eyeliner) and a pair of nail scissors, and the file on my nail clippers, all had to be dumped.

  • see about renting a cell phone at the airport in seoul. you cant buy a phone until you get your arc card, and the airport here has a booth to rent phones, open 24/7. you need your passport and put like 200USD down, or something. this info was in my cdi packet, but i done left the airport before i stopped to think about it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

finally here!

hello blogworld! im now in seoul. not much to say just yet, training starts monday morning, looking forward to it. i've blogged a lot about me trying to EAT here, you can read about it at when i have the time and patience, i'll write up proper about my flight, etc, but im still so ancy.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

CDI Orientation Schedule

Subject: CDI Orientation Schedule
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2007 16:24:54 +0900

Congratulations, I am pleased to inform you that you are moving on to the training and evaluation phase of the application process. Our dedicated, professional recruiting officers and managers have taken great care in placing you in a suitable academic program to best utilize your skills and talents in our CDI classrooms.

If you have inquiries regarding your training placement, please contact the recruiting center ( for consultation. Also, please take careful note of the following:

Date: February 12th (Monday)
Time: 10:00am – 1:45pm
Location: KTF Tower Bldg. 16F, Training Room

The training will be from February 12th (Monday) to February 17th (Saturday), and it will take 5 hours per each day (except February 12th (Monday) – the Orientation is 3 hours and 45 minutes), 2.5 hours per each program training. Please refer to the training schedule attached to this email.

Please be sure to be on time – at least 15 minutes early and at the proper location. You can find attached directions to the training location.

In addition, please be advised that the results of your training evaluation will determine whether or not you will be offered employment at one of the CDI locations. (87% candidate pass ratio) Accordingly your best performance is expected during the training sessions. Business casual attire is advisable. A notebook and a writing utensil are also highly advisable.

Please do not hesitate to contact the training center with any questions, and please reply to this email for your confirmation.

I wish you the best of luck with your training and the remainder of the application process.

Best regards,

KTF Bldg. 16th Floor, 890-20 Daechi 4(sa)-dong, Gangnam-gu
Seoul, Korea135-839
Tel: 02-3429-9565
Fax: 02-3429-9589

i passed the grammar test the 1st time, suckas!!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

what do i do from the airport?

Subject: FW: Visa Codes
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 2007 17:58:00 +0900

Hi S, Please find below your visa code. You need to take this number with your passport and a visa application form (attached) to the nearest Korean Embassy or consulate.

Regards, Jason Nieuwoudt
ManagerRecruiting Center

Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2007 4:40 PM
To: Jason Nieuwoudt; CindyPark (recruiters)
Subject: RE: Visa Codes

Hi Jason, I got my visa this afternoon and I'm all set. I do have one concern, though; my flight arrives in Seoul at 9:40pm on Saturday February 10. The packet you've emailed me says I'm to take a bus to COEX, but it also states that the last bus is at 10:30pm. Will I make this bus? I will cc this email to Cindy, the recruiter, for assistance as well. Thank you.

Dear Shannon
I am glad to hear that you got your visa today.
As you said, everything seems ok.

I've talked to Jason about your concern.
He will contact you and solve it, I believe..

Feel free contact me if you have any questions, please.

Thanks and kind regards,


Hi Shannon,

Drew, one of the senior managers in my department, will be emailing you will instructions shortly.


from cdi

S, M, J, and L:

The four of you will all be arriving on United flight 883 this Saturday at 9:40 pm. I am providing all of your email addresses so that you can exchange pictures and try to find a place to meet before/after the flight.

I am attaching the Welcome Packet to ensure that all of you have received it. Please print this packet, and bring it with you in your carry-on.

After you arrive at Incheon International Airport, go through immigration and customs, and collect your baggage, please call me on my cellular phone. My number is 010-7148-5526.

Since you are arriving late, there is a fair possibility that you’re going to miss the last bus to City Air Terminal. However, if you split a cab, it won’t be that much. The last bus runs at 10:30.

I will meet you at City Air Terminal and escort you to your hotel, which is located about 2 or 3 blocks behind our Headquarters building.

Your training schedule will be coming later this week, most likely late Friday. Training will be starting early Monday morning, so be sure to rest well on Sunday. After training, you will go to the immigration office with a representative of CDI to pick up your ID card. Also, in addition to training on Tuesday, remember that there will be a medical exam and drug test that all instructors must be able to pass.

If you have any questions, you can either contact me, or the other Hiring Manager that you’ve already been dealing with.

I hope that everyone is feeling excited about coming in a few short days, we’re definitely excited that you are.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

seoulitary confinement

another great example of korea's cultural illiteracy. read about it at: seoulitary confinement I think this blog of mine will end a little after i get to korea. i've mostly written about what ive been going through during my job search; and after i arrive, i'd like to post about getting an arc card, getting my cell phone, exchanging money for the first time, finding my own place to live, etc. But after that, i think i will start a new blog, about the Seoul Sister living in korea. im sure i will see many examples of korea's cultural illiteracy... and i'm sure i'll have a lot to say about it.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

how i got my visa

your visa is a sticker that's IN your passport. you can get it via the mail (be sure you've got plenty of time for it to be mailed back to you) or if you live close enough and can make the trip, you can get it in person from the consulate of the country your visiting.

you can get a visa number yourself, like a vistor visa. if you'll already have a job when you get to korea, the visa will be an E-2 visa issued by your school. the visa will state your length of stay and who your employer is. this means that your employer is the only one you can work for.

if you plan on travelling (like to japan for a weekend or something), perhaps ask your school for assistance b/c then you will need a multiple entry visa. i dont think the procedure is much different but the cost is much more. with out this type of visa, you are not to leave the country.

my job emailed me my visa number and i drove to the korean consulate in los angeles to get the visa. i filled out some paperwork and gave them two passport sized photos. The visa was ready to pick up the following business day.

i had more to write before b/c i had a nice little drive to LA, but now im bored. so anyway this is all the basic info here. ok bye.