So where to start.... right, we got back from the Chuseok holiday in rough shape. A day of rest was in order before acquitting ourselves of the two day work week. On Thursday (Sept 15), when I got to school, a man was waiting for me at the front doors and handed me an envelope. The fact that I received an envelope didn't surprise me since I was waiting anxiously for my ARC but the fact that a man was waiting to hand it to me at the front door, when I got there... well that was a little weird. But I'm not complaining since I was really anxious to get organized with a bank account, a cell phone, and most importantly INTERNET!!!
First order of business was evidently getting a bank account since you need it for everything... and I wanted to get paid. At my school, we get paid once a month, on the 17th. So my ARC couldn't have arrived at a better time. Since banks in Korea close extremely early, I asked Shim Hye Seon if I could be dismissed early to take care of business. She had an even better idea: "Why don't you go during your break before lunch?" She told me it shouldn't take more than an hour. Sweet, works for me! So after I finished teaching my second class, I left school to go setup my bank account.
When I had asked Jay which bank to go with, he had highly recommended KEB (Korean Exchange Bank) since they are the most foreigner-friendly bank in Korea. A later online review would confirm the same. On top of that, KEB had an option for overseas remittance, which made it really easy to send money back to my Canadian bank account. Done... I was going with KEB.
In order to get a bank account, you need to bring your passport and your ARC. Since my passport was at home, I made a short detour before heading to KEB. When I finally got to the bank, I grabbed a number and took a seat. A minute later, my number showed up on a screen and the teller was looking at me with a smile. "Annyeong haseyo... Do you speak English?" (ouch, I can't believe that's still all I know). The poor lady looked a little unsure as she said "little". So I explained to her that I wanted to open a bank account and I'm pretty sure she didn't understand because she waved to the man at the next till to come and help. I repeated to him what I had just said, he said something in Korean to the teller and we were all set. He left and it was just me, the non-Korean speaking guy, with the non-English speaking teller. But for what it was worth, it was pretty easy. She had me fill out a few forms, photocopied my id's and handed me my new bank book and check card. (If I had been at Staples, I would've pressed the "easy" button. The only problem was that I had intended to also open the easy-one remittance account and set up Internet banking... But that would have to wait for another day. Everything took less than half an hour. Before I knew it, I was back at school teaching ESL! During the afternoon, I tried calling the Internet company (KT) to have them come set up at our apartment ASAP. Unfortunately, I was never able to get through. Either I was calling the wrong number or they were closed.. I'm still not sure what happened. So it would have to wait.
When school was over, I rushed home to grab the smart phone (Samsung Galaxy S) I had bought from Adam (the previous teacher at my school) and take it to the nearest T-World to get it set up. It so happens that there are 4 T-World stores in our are. I walked to the nearest one, hoping to be greeted by an English speaker. It was not to be. I would have left and tried my luck at one of the other locations, but the guy seemed so eager to help me that I ended up staying and giving him a chance. Turns out this process was also pretty easy. Even though we couldn't communicate efficiently, the guy managed to understand what I wanted and offer me a plan that met my needs. For 55,000 KRW per month I get 300 minutes (all over Korea), unlimited incoming calls, 200 texts, and unlimited data. I was happy with it. The first thing I thing was try it out. I called the prepaid phone that Korvia had provided us. It worked!! And things were slowly falling into place. Next order of business: Internet, but that would have to wait until tomorrow.
On Friday, I went to school with my new cell phone in my pocket, my bank book in my bag and a smile on my face. Why not? It was Friday after all... and we may be getting the Internet soon. I was busy all day but as soon as 4:20pm rolled around, I was out of there. Instead of taking the chance of KT being closed if I waited until I got home to call, I dialed the number right away. At the other end of the line, a woman answered in Korean. "Do you speak English?" I asked. "Yes, I do", the answer was in almost perfect English!! WOOOOT. I told her we wanted Internet at our apartment, gave her our address, signed up for a contract, provided my banking details and my ARC # and that was it: "Someone will come tomorrow between 10:00 and 11:00am to set you up!" It was that easy. And of course, the next day, we were ONLINE at last!!
And that's about the time that we started blogging...