Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Significantly Unexpected Journey

February 18th

4 am -woke up after only about 3 hours of sleep. Finished packing.

~6 am - Journey to airport after hugging my mom goodbye.

7 am - Arrived at airport, hugged my dad goodbye, breezed through check in and security.

8:30 am - Boarded flight with Southwest to SFO.

10:00 am - Got off plane (wait for it) without departing because we needed to switch planes.

10:20 am - Re-boarded new plane. 

11:00 am - Finally took off.

12:20 pm (California time) - Arrival in San Francisco, missed my next flight.

12:35 pm - Baggage claim.

~2:00 pm and the rest of the evening - Awesome parents helped me out by getting me a hotel room for the night. I cried a little. Discovered pretty much all my jewelry was missing from my checked in luggage, which made me cry some more because those things had sentimental value. Made a lot of phone calls, got re-booked, ate because I hadn't eaten anything except pretzels and a piece of beef jerky since 8 am, posted like crazy on Facebook and went to bed.

*Time Skip*

19th - 20th

8:30 am - 12:30 pm - Made it back to SFO to check-in with Singapore Airlines, get through security and boarded my plane. 

12:55 pm - Take off. No one sitting next to me, which means both armrests are MINE! There's a cute baby in front of me. Pretty quiet as well as his fellow baby passenger (a girl). The baby boy keeps peeking between the seats to smile at me and reach out, so overall actually a better seating arrangement than my last flight and what I would have originally been assigned to had I made it in time for my original flight with Singapore Air.


We got snacks, lunch, and a light meal. I asked for the gluten free meal because you get a rice cake instead of a roll, which I thought would be better for my stomach on the flight. This turned out to be true, but not how I thought. I got queasy about 6-7 hours in and the rice cake was the only thing I could stomach during the light meal. I almost gagged when I opened the tin foil to discover chicken
and broccoli.

Note: Special diet meals get served first, so you can eat a lot sooner if you ask for one of those. 


The entertainment system had lots of options available. I played some games, used the language learning program to learn Korean numbers and watched 3 movies because I had a hard time sleeping sitting up. I got to watch Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, Windstorm (Ostwind) and The Face Reader (Favorite Korean actor was in this one!)

Overall Service

Soooo much better than Southwest. They offered plenty of drinks, there was more space and the flight attendants were decent. The seats are smaller compared to Southwest, but that was fine for me. The Southwest seats hit the back of my knees when I'm seated, but I have a couple inches in Singapore's seats. They were also slightly more comfortable than Southwest's, especially since I had a pillow and blanket.

6:45 pm 20th - Arrived in Incheon Airport. Followed the crowd through to the train, immigration, baggage and customs. Got some money exchanged, and pushed my heavy load towards the other end of the airport. I heard someone call my name when I was about halfway there, which turned out to be my recruiter! She gave me a hug. I was sweating like a pig from lugging all my heavy stuff, and I was exhausted, but sooo relieved to see a familiar face and to learn that I was in time for the last shuttle!

10:30 pm - Arrived in Daejeon at the orientation location. I was fully prepared to lug my stuff to the dorms, but I must have looked so pitiful with my rolling luggage that wouldn't roll straight and bag that kept slipping off my shoulder because one the EPIK coordinators ended up helping me. I then was asked by another guy later when I just had my duffle bag in hand if I needed help so, yeah, I'm just a damsel in distress here apparently.

Note to self: Start weight lifting, try to pack only one bag next time, and get all rollers instead of just one and a duffle bag.

We only get one key per room, which is to be left at the front desk when both roommates have left the dorms. My roommate finally got into bed around midnight, and I'll tell you all about the next day as soon as I get a chance to type that all up.

Oh, and surprisingly not as cold as I thought it would be when I got here. Other than the foreign words, Daejeon at night almost feels like Flagstaff, Arizona. No snow so far and no rain (thank goodness). I'll keep you posted! Thanks for reading! And sorry there aren't really any pictures on here. I will add some later!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Almost There!!

I realize I haven't updated this in a while. Things have been a little crazy around here. Packing, repacking, and still packing. I've been considering what I really need, especially after I lifted my large luggage and almost staggered.

Holy cow, it was heavy and I am WEAK!

So, I  decided to rethink my packing list/methods and also started a bit of strength training. A little close to really help, but at least I'm trying, eh?

It's the final countdown, people! I've finished my jobs here, gone through some of my things, gotten stocked up on things I might miss while there. Another EPIK teacher shared pictures of pricing at a department store in Korea and the imported stuff is EXPENSIVE. I think it was about $11 USD for a large bag of fun-size Twix, $8 USD for peanut butter.

Whaaaaat? My favorite snacks are now luxury items. Yikes. Don't even get me started on how much it could cost to get some decent root beer there.

Anyways, that's my update. I thought about doing a "What to Pack" post, but figured I can do that after I get settled in Korea, and have a better idea of what I really need.

Thanks for reading. Next time I post will either be on the way to or when I'm finally in Korea. Crazy!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tax Exemption Terrors - Form 8802

Taxes confuse me. There are so many forms, enough rules to fill a library and plenty of ways -- I feel -- to screw it up. So, when I was told that I should get started on the whole process to get a residency certificate so I could be exempt from Korean taxes while teaching, I sort of panicked.

To start you need to fill out form 8802, which is the form to request another form (6166).... whaaaat? How many forms are there going to be and am I going to be up to my ears in paperwork after all of this?

Turns out, it's not all that complicated or frightening. All you need to do is get a little help. I was directed to this blog post by my Korvia recruiter, which simplifies the whole process pretty well. It is a little out of date, however, so I'm going to go through the changes here in my blog post and share some resources.

First, you can find the form instructions here. And you can access the 8802 form here. The IRS website isn't all that organized, in my opinion. They have links that take you in circles and I finally had to search for "8802 instructions" in order to find that page. Ridiculous.

Even more ridiculous is some of the wording on this website, but I won't get into that now. That's a whole rant on its own. Instead, let's move on to the things you should know that have changed since "The Agony of IRS Forms" blog post was published, or just something I thought I should add.

1. The form now has a total of 12 lines, not 13. Don't panic, there aren't any pages missing.

2. For the perjury statement, things have changed. As an EPIK teacher (or any invited teacher coming to Korea, I think) you should be writing something like this:  

Countries other than Japan: [Insert name of individual and TIN] was a U.S. resident within the meaning of Article [20] of the U.S.-Korea treaty (including, in some cases, physical presence in the United States) immediately before entering Korea. The assignment began on [date] and ends on [date]. Article [20] of the U.S.-Korea treaty provides a [2 or 3] year exemption from income tax. 

Again, I had to go searching for the Article number, just like the instructions, but I've inserted the correct number here so you don't have to go through the same search process as myself. If you're wondering where I found the information, check here.

3. User fees are $85 per application. This increased April, 2012.

4. Mail:

Mail or Private Delivery Service

Send Form 8802 and all required attachments to this address only if you paid the user fee by e-payment.
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Philadelphia, PA 19255-0625
Private delivery services cannot deliver items to P.O. boxes. You must use the U.S. Postal Service to mail any item to an IRS P.O. box address.

Once you've mailed it off, the wait-time varies depending on when you've sent it. I mailed mine in late November, got it back late January. So, about 2 months. The form is very simple. It's funny how the IRS, a group I consider to be long-winded and confusing, would send me a form with ONE sentence on it, stating that I am a resident of the United States of America.

They might as well have sent it on a post-it note. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Update: The Visa Edition

Hey everyone!

I'm almost there! I sent in my visa form to the LA Korean consulate, and will hopefully get it back next week or the beginning of the next.

So, while I wait for all of that to go through, I've been working on some other stuff. I'm slowly sorting through my junk to see what I should and can bring with me. Obviously, I need all the documents EPIK has asked me to bring. I even have a form that will exempt me from being double taxed (yay!), which I will do a blog post for because it can be headache inducing.

Anyways, I have my tickets for my flight over to Korea. I'm so glad that I got them when I did, too, because a few days later the price went up. Thank goodness! Now I just need to:

- Wait for my visa (Hope there aren't any problems!)
- Eat lots of stuff I'm going to miss
- See a lot of people I'm going to miss
- Pack my stuff
- Fly to Korea!

So, later I'm going to write a blog post about the whole tax exemption process, and something about packing once I figure out what I'm doing. All I know is that the beginning of my process involves an open suitcase and junk being tossed around.

Thanks for reading!