Monday, July 31, 2006

Busy day, getting situated

Well, I guess I am starting to feel a little more comfortable in my surroundings. You know I am starting to feel that familiar feeling when I walk in the door. I have unpacked and done some basic cleaning, picked up necessary things for my apartment, finally got my address figured out (I think), got a foreigner ID card (green card), picked up a cell phone, got a bank account, got a medical book and medical insurance (happens all at the same time, I think because health care is nationalized). So, even on my days off, it seems like I have still been really busy.

First, let me explain about my apartment. It was furnished with a bed, table, chair, reading chair, desk, TV with stand, two wardrobes, washing machine, sink, fridge, microwave, toaster and some dishes and blankets. Not so bad, I think. But I still felt like I needed other things. Like a toothbrush holder, trashcans, fan, drying rack for clothes and an extra chair would have been nice so I did not have to drag my one regular chair back and forth between the kitchen table and the desk. Last night I went walking around after dark. In different peoples trash piles and brought home a couple of chairs. One is an almost new and quite comfortable computer chair but it has a nasty burn on one corner, maybe from a heater, I don’t know. The other chair is old, worn out and maybe belonged in the trash but I brought it home to put next to my door so I can put groceries on it when I come home or maybe sit on while I tie my shoes.

Getting the ID card has been pretty pivotal on the rest of my activities. Sure, I got a visa before I came and that let me get across immigration but it is an ID card that anybody and everybody wants to see whenever I do anything else. Last Monday, after a trip to Seoul and a long wait to speak to someone, I signed a bunch of papers and gave a lady my passport. She said in a week I would have my passport back and I would have an ID too. She was right. After I got my ID, then I was an officially registered alien in Korea.

Next I was off to the bank. After another long line and the signing of some more papers, I was given my new check card and the Funny Looking Checkbook (FLC). Then I went to the cell phone shop and showed them my FLC and my ID card and I was given a cell phone that presumably will charged to my bank account, who knows?

Lastly, I was off to the medical issurance, health department place where after a long line, I was able to get my Funny Looking Medical book. It is some kind of book you take to the doctor and he writes prescriptions/diagnosis in (Again, I think). Like a lot of things, I am not too sure about all this but I was told I would have to pay about 180 dollars every four months as my insurance premium. Not too bad, I guess.

I am not really too sure about all of this but it does seem like my cell phone works pretty well, I have sent and received calls on it already. Most of the day, I have been just walking around with a person that speaks very broken English and was directed in sentences like “bank now”, “phone now”, “medical card now”. I don’t really know what my cell phone plan is or how my bank account really works but I was given a debit card and the PLC and at one point they had me type a four digit # into a keypad so I can only gather that is my new pin. Pretty funny, I am all amazed but also tired.


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