That Time I Cried in the Immigration Office

Anyone who knows me knows that I hate crying in public. Even at funerals, I hate that kind of big emotional display. But unfortunately, I cry when I get frustrated.
My new employer is great. In many ways, it’s a much better position than I had before. However, when it came to preparing me for this trip to immigration, they completely dropped the ball.
They told me to get my documents stamped for the education department. This stamping process costs about 60 US dollars. I can’t pay with my card either, so I have to leave, go to the bank, and come back to start this all over again. The very unhelpful lady at the document desk slings these stamps at me and hands me a form for renewing my visa. Looking at the form, I realized that I didn’t have the business information needed. I call my employer and finally get the form filled out after about 20 minutes of phone calls and emails back and forth.
Finally, at the desk, I hand over my papers. I put those stupid stamps on my papers (because my boss said “Get your documents stamped” so logically, I assumed that was where they went). So the poor girl at the desk peels them off my papers and puts them on the form.
She goes through the list of things I need including a business document from my employer, my contract, and a housing contract to change my residency. I have none of these. I have already been struggling at the immigration office for over an hour. I put my head down on the desk and start crying.
The immigration woman tells me to please stop crying. She calls my boss and tells her that they need all these forms that the school neglected to give me. I wipe the mascara from my cheeks and get on the phone.
“Sorry, I guess we didn’t prepare you for immigration,” she said. “We’ll fix it tomorrow. Sorry, you must be frustrated.”
I hate the that I cried, but was exhausted, had a stomachache, and really felt like I wasn’t being taken care of by my job. When your residency depends on it, you don’t want things getting screwed up. I only got half the details and half the papers I needed. I wasted my time today and have to do it over again tomorrow.
Consider this one of the worst aspects of expat living.


Wolmido, Incheon: The Seaside Heights of Korea

spinny thing

Growing up in Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, going to Seaside Heights NJ was a summer staple. There were closer (and probably nicer) beaches, but I had family in South Jersey, so we could visit with them along the way. Seaside Heights had a classic, kitschy boardwalk/pier setup and a little beach you had to pay to get on. Unhealthy restaurants and little shops. There are a collection of motion-sickness tempting rides, such as the spinning thing pictured above. Apparently a radio dj runs the ride and makes taunting comments about the riders as he speeds it up to torture them more. Classic.

Imagine my grotesque delight at realizing that Incheon (which nicely fills the role of New Jersey in a Seoul/New York comparison) has its own Seaside Heights. Wolmi Island is a short bus ride over a bridge away from the main island of Incheon. Though its boardwalk is surrounded by rocks, making a beach visit impossible, the atmosphere was strangely familiar to that of those childhood summers.

Lots of seafood restaurants of varying quality, as well as street food. Wolmido has something Seaside Heights never did, but would surely covet: a corn dog covered in french fries. They also have crowded shops full of tacky summer gear.

adjhumma visor
If the old ladies can rock it, so can I. Right?

Wolmido also has a nice park and a tiny mountain to climb. There is an observation tower with a cafe in the top, and several military monuments on the island. One full scale ship with little fountains spraying water around it.

body pile
Is it just me or does it look a little like the body pile from Hannibal?

I had a fun day of hiking and wandering the boardwalk. To go to the beach though, I had to go to a different Island.