Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Petition

So for any and all of you out there who might be curious how to get yourself an immigrant visa to the United States, it seems the process can be broken down into two main parts, the Petition and the Interview.

Yesterday, DH and I filed the petition at the US Embassy in Seoul.  It was a rather painless process which required the following:

A.  I-130 Form (the petition for American Citizens to bring in Immediate Family/Spouses)
B.  G-325 Form x 2 (biographical information about yourself and your family member)
C.  Copy of my passport
D.  Passports (original) - bring along
E.  Proof of Relationship, in our case, a marriage certificate
F.  Passport Photos
G.  $420/500,000 KRW Processing Fee

The US embassy in Seoul has two different entrances, one for US Citizen services and the other for Immigrant and Non-immigrant Visas.  The line to get into the latter entrance was out of this world long :/, but perhaps it had to do with it being a Friday afternoon.  Lots of Koreans in line for visas, but luckily once inside we could skip the queue where everyone else was waiting and head up to the third floor for the USCIS dept. where only one other person was waiting.  

We had gone to the embassy last Tuesday to set up an appointment in person because it was really hard to get a hold of someone on the phone and sending e-mails was useless.  We kept getting automated responses linking us to websites we had already been to.  If you have serious questions, just go in in person.  The guy was helpful and we made the appointment at the same time. He told us both petitioner and the person being petitioned for are required to be present and so we were off until then.

When Friday came, we went to turn in the papers and he told us we should hear the results of the petition in about a month and that at that time we'll get the information that we need to prepare for the next step--the Interview.

All in all--pretty smooth up until this point. We were told on average it takes around three months to go through the entire process here in Seoul, which means we applied fairly early, but just to be on the safe side we started the process now anyway.  Once DH gets the visa in his hands (after the interview) then he has six months to enter the US, and that should coincide nicely with the end of my contract early next year.

Picture of the US embassy, Seoul

Friday, July 27, 2012

Oh, you beautiful one

Yesterday, after turning in our documents at the US embassy (follow up to come soon), we had a walk around  Ganghwamun in central Seoul.  It was then with the view of massive King Sejong on my left, Gyeongbok palace in front of me and the view of skyscrapers and jagged mountain tops scraping a clear blue summer sky that I realized how amazing this city really is. It's such a fascinating place to work and  play and I'm so glad I have this opportunity to be here.   

Ganghwamun Square

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The paperwork never ends...

...when you're in an international relationship.  Or at least is seems that way.  The paperwork for EPIK along with a case of bed bugs that we were dealing with at the time makes Winter 2011 a time I will gladly (gladly) let slip into oblivion. Down until the very end, when I thought I had lost my passport after returning from the US (didn't know that one, did ya?), I really wasn't sure if Korea was going to happen.  But I'm here. And have been for five whole months already.

Five months in, and do you know what we're doing now? 

That's right, prepping more paperwork.  

We've been dragging our feet on this one for a while now.  We've had the forms all filled out and were ready to go a couple weeks ago already, but paperwork, no matter how straight forward it might seem, never is.  We're now in the process of applying for David's immigrant visa/green card.  After a quick Google search, we've found that there aren't too many blogs out there with information detailing the process from here in South Korea, so the DH suggested I keep track of the experience for future Seoul-dwellers who happen to need the services of the US Embassy.

This Friday at 2:30pm, we have our first appointment to turn in all the paperwork for the petition.  The first part of the visa process is filing the I-130, the petition to bring an immediate relative to the US. Cost? A cool $420.00.  But from what we've gathered reading extensively online, it seems that applying for a visa/green card from abroad is still cheaper than applying for one already in the US.  But I'll keep track and let you know as we go along.

So dear readers, wish us luck as we officially kick-off round two of 'international paperwork's never-ending story'. 

Cold Noodles and Ice Cream

Man, this summer heat is brutal.  And it just doesn't let up.  It doesn't matter if it's 8am or 8pm, the humidity suffocates me.  Everywhere I go these days, no matter how short the distance, my face is dripping with sweat. It just puts me in a bad mood.  

Why, Korea? Why is your weather so extreme?!

Thank god for 냉면 (cold noodles)
and 아이스크림 (ice cream).

That's right, noodles sitting in an icy vinegar broth.  One of few reliefs from Korean summers.

Green Tea  팥빙수 , shaved ice with fruits and mochi.  Another gloriously cool summer food.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Some German Love

Behold, sausage rugs!

Bierschinken, Blutwurst, Mortadella and Salami--why wouldn't you want one of these? :)

Created by none-other than eine Deutsche Firma, Das rote Paket. I came across this peculiarly awesome home decor yesterday as I was wasting time on the internet and thought German lovers and lovers of Germany alike would get a kick from it. Want to deck your floors with some Wurst?  Click on the link above to see some more photos.

Friday, July 6, 2012

South Korea and Japan

These two countries have a long history with each other and one that I'm not even going to try to recount here, however if you're ever hanging out with a Korean or happen to be in Korea, make sure you're careful what you say about their neighbors.  

Below is a map of Korea you will never see in the ROK.  Do you know why? (Well, other than the Romanised spelling...)
You will never see a map like this in the ROK.

I used this exact map during a presentation I made to a class of 6th graders in my first month here, and I had students falling out of their seats and shouting at me.  Notice the name of the sea between Korea and Japan?  That's right, "Sea of Japan".  The Koreans don't think too highly of this name and instead refer to it as the "East Sea".

The Japanese invaded South Korea twice in the last 5-600 years, and the last invasion was not too long ago.  Japan colonized Korea during the first half of the last century, so the wounds are still pretty fresh, despite having another war (the Korean war) and invasion from their own northern half since then.  If you can't imagine well the passion they feel against their former colonizers, I had a Korean friend over coffee once, liken them to the Nazis.

Another point of contention at the moment is over a little tiny island that lies smack dab in between the two countries.  Dok-do as it's referred to by the Koreans, and Takeshima by the Japanese, is nothing more than two tiny little mounds of land in the sea, with no inhabitants, nothing actually. But it is a matter of huge pride to the Koreans that this land remains theirs. The island is so small, it can barely be seen on the map, in fact, if you have a look again at the map above, Dok-do isn't even on it.  But it is none-the-less a big deal.  Don't go messing with Dok-do.  

(Above) Not my picture, but I have seen protestors with similar signs marching in Seoul.  (Below)  A picture of Dok-do: what all the fuss is about .

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Just in time for the 4th

Korea is famous for their barbecue, so much so, you can literally find three or four restaurants specializing in BBQ on a single block.  Where American barbecues are famous for having burgers, hot dogs and chicken, some corn on the cob and watermelon, Korean barbecue is a little bit different.  Below you can see a typical setting.  Notice the lack of carbs on the table.  No bread or rolls, and rice isn't usually served either (but of course you can order it).

Grill is built into the middle of the table with lots of side dishes used to eat with your meat.  Garlic, sauces, onions, a special kind of salt and most importantly, different lettuces/greens to wrap your meat in.
The greens are what the Koreans wrap their meat in and then devour using their hands.

How it's done. . .

Some favorites?  Other than 불고기 (bulgogi) (marinated grilled beef), 삼겹살 (samgyeopsal) (or three layered pork, kind of like Korean bacon)  and 갈비 (galbi) (ribs can be marinated or not) seem to be some of the more famous ones.

The big three:  bulgogi, samgyeopsal and galbi--맛있는!
*If you're craving more info on Korean meats, this website seems to be a fairly thorough guide. ;) Enjoy.