My week in Fukuoka has come to an end and I'm back in Seoul ready to begin the new school year!
The trip went much better than I expected. I got to see Akane, who I hadn't seen a good 3 or 4 years, and I was able to just recharge my batteries after a hectic Camp Fulbright schedule and prepare for the new school year at a new school. Also, getting my visa was WAY easier than I was expecting.
Since I arrived in Japan right at the start of the Gion Matusri, I was able to spend two whole days with Akane before she traveled to the mainland to see her family. We went to Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, and also the Fukuoka Aquarium.
After Akane left, I had time to pick up my visa and enjoy a few more sites before flying back to Seoul and finishing the teacher orientation before school starts. I spent a day visiting the beach and a large park near the Korean embassy, and attempted to do some shopping, which resulted in a beautiful new wallet and a bunch of green tea flavored items...
First, when on a Fulbright Grant, you receive a special semi-diplomatic visa. For this visa, there was no need to get an apostilled FBI Background Check, or an apostille for your university diploma. I simply submitted my application to Fulbright, and they did all of the work. Regular employment in Korea requires a completely different visa. In my case, that visa is the E-2 visa. For this visa, I needed that FBI Background Check and my diploma, complete with apostilles. Since I was in Korea, this proved to be the biggest nuisance of starting my new job. I had to get those documents from the States, which meant my mom had to run errands for me and bring the documents with her when she visited back in May.
Then, to actually have the visa issued, you have to go to a Korean embassy outside of Korea. Thus, my sudden trip to Japan. The headache here was that I had to buy the tickets while I was at Camp Fulbright. However, my Korean bank card doesn't work to buy plane tickets (one of the constant troubles of any expat in Korea is the ridiculous online payment systems). So, one of the counselors actually had to purchase the ticket for me using their card (I am eternally grateful to my Camp Family for supporting me this summer; I had a lot of rough moments).
Of course, since I have to get my visa, I'm missing basically all of the prep days before school starts. What a stressful way to start a new teaching job!!
On the other hand, one my friends from university lives in Fukuoka, so I'll be able to spend a couple days with her, which will make my trip much more enjoyable. Together, we plan to go to the beach, the Fukuoka aquarium, and one of the major temples in Fukuoka, Daifukuji.
I actually really like Fukuoka. The town has a chill vibe, and it's a small city, which is exactly the kind of city I like. Plus, there are lots of green spaces, and the ocean is right there! I totally wouldn't mind living in such a place!