Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Episode Two: Peyton Is A Coward Edition

Hola from Korea,

Once again, I failed to make due on my promise to update more often. I'll get the hang of this. Because of that, I'll update my Week 3 tonight, and Week Four tomorrow. Times are tough. Deal with it.

A very big week in the life of Chris. This was the week I received my cell phone, my bank account, and alien registration card. Each moment had its fair share of problems.

Alien Registration Card
Fun fact: without an Alien Registration Card  ("ARC"), you can't do diddly squat in a foreign country. No bank account, no cell phone. The first few weeks, I survived solely off of friends and pay phones. Seoul has more pay phones than trash cans. True story. You can find a pay phones in any subway station, but if you want to throw your trash out? Good luck. For such a clean city, I still have no idea how trash works.  Either there is some ancient eastern secret on what to do with your trash, or Koreans give it all to Doc Brown to help power his Delorean. I don't get it.

I made my trip back to Anguk to pick up my ARC card. People said the wait was really bad, but the only delays in both of my trips there was my own incompetance. When I went to apply for my ARC card, I had to take a passport photo. Most of the directions are in Korean, so that was no help. The limited instructions in English told me to insert 6,000 won to take a picture, and to adjust the seat. I put in the money, and then was looking down at the chair. You spin it to raise or lower the seat. Naturally, I had to lower the seat to fit my big Irish melon into the picture. As  I was looking down, the camera flashed. Picture number one, and I'm not even looking at the camera.

Luckily, the camera lets you take a second picture. Unfortunately, it told me there would be a second picture in Korean, so I didn't know that was about to happen. I turned my head to read the instructions and "CLICK!" Picture number two. My two terrible photos printed out, and I had no choice but to go to the help desk, show them my pictures, and frown. The women shrugged her head at me, but gave me new money, and I stared at that camera until both photos were taken. Then, I turned in my forms and waited a week.

One Week Later
I returned to pick up my ARC card. The thing that will allow me to walk around without my passport. I grabbed a number from the machine, and patiently waited for my turn. There are about three desks working to help people at the Immigration Office, but if nobody approaches within 5 seconds of your number being called, they click the next button. The two people before me did not approach the desk. I was really excited that the line was moving so fast. Then, out of nowhere, some korean chick swoops in with the number before me, after they had already switched to my number. The other desks automatically kept going up in terms of order. They passed me. So, I got a new number, and waited again.

I was very excited to get my ARC card. However, the immigration people obviously wanted to play a joke on me. I picked up my card, looked at it, and saw that they put a huge printer burn mark (or photo shop) on my cheek. From the picture, it looks like I have a bigger birth mark than Drew Brees,  or I have a large bruise from a fight. It's basically a mug shot. And that's my ID. I'm not doing it again. Awesome.

Bank Account!

I immediately went to the bank across the street from the immigration office. Woori Bank. Represent. Luckily they had a girl that spoke English. It was a smooth process, except she told me nothing about the type of account I was getting, and entered my full name. The korean language takes one english character space to say a whole syllable. So naturally, Christopher Michael Barr is a lot longer than they are used to. So now my bank account is under Christopher Mi. I am still waiting to find out if that actually works.

Myeongdong and MyeongCellPhone
The weekend after I received my ARC card and bank account, it was time to get a phone. I never could have accomplished this task on my own. Luckily, my dear training buddy and original subway sherpa, Doris, came back to Seoul for some sightseeing and Forever 21 shopping. I met her in Myeongdong, which appears to be Seoul's Mecca of Western Consumerism.

Myeongdong. I don't know the other white people. Honest.
The roads were narrow, and stuff was everywhere. Nike stores, Burger Kings, mabye even a Baby Gap. I didn't check. But the stores are stacked one on top of the other, and you can't stop to look because you are constantly getting pushed through the hoard of consumers. Doris and I tried to deposite money in my bank account for the first time. Fun Fact: Korea hates Chris Barr. At the airport, I exchanged a lot of USD into Korean won. Naturally, they give me 50,000 won bills (a little less than $50 bills). And of course, my bank doesn't accept 50,000 bills.  Even still, I got a phone. Nothing fancy. Very cheap. Sadly, it is still an upgrade over my last phone.

I also snagged a Girls Generation poster. It's a very popular pop band in Korea. They have nine members, which seems excessive considering they don't even play instruments. Still, it decorates my place, and it reminds me of the Britney Spears poster a bunch of us won at a minigolf spot back in high school. It works.

Other Notes
1) Any time a group of Koreans walk  past me and laugh, I assume they are saying things about me. I can't stand it.

2) I don't know why they still make phones without a full keyboard that don't have T9. Texting is dead to me.

3) I really want to buy a swine flu mask. Seems like a bunch of people wear them. Little kids even have ones with decorations on them. Naturally, I want one with decorations.

4) The Colts game.  I have talked to everyone I want to talk to about that game. The Jets didn't win. The Colts lost. Whats worse,  I stayed in on Saturday night and woke up early so I could watch the game and drink. Then, after the game, I was walking around upset kind of drunk in my Garcon jersey, and one of my students walked by me with his dad. It was like 2 pm on Sunday. Awkward.

5) .   Pandora does not work in Korea due to copyright laws. Jango does. I can finally listen to music again!

Ok. That's all for now. Kudos to whoever read all this.


  1. Nice! I love the updates & forever 21 shopping! I'm sad about the Colts but what can you do?

  2. Excellent Mr. Barr. And, By the way, they are laughing at you. hahaha.