The decision to renew a contract with EPIK is pretty straightforward, however it is a little more than giving your co-teacher your autograph. There is a little legwork involved but your school should be able to make the process as painless as possible for you.
After initially deciding to leave, my school were only too happy to help after I changed my mind in the nick of time, with the Provincial Office of Education in Gyeongsangbukdo agreeing to allow my renewal just a few short days after they began processing documents for my departure.
Delighted that I was staying, the school extended an invite to the staff excursion rafting in rural Myeongho, followed by a BBQ. It seemed I was welcomed back into the fold after several weeks in the cold.
After signing my life away to my new mentor, Mr Im Eung Yeong, he was kind enough to provide me with the list of documents that I needed to bring to the immigration office in Andong to renew my visa.
With Mr Im’s assistance, I gathered everything I needed and was given the final day of term off to go to Andong, before joining the gang for the rafting trip.
For anyone in that area, the office can only do renewals on a Thursday from 10.30 – 14.00.
Armed with my portfolio and some rehearsed Korean phrases, I rolled into Andong bus terminal bright and early and strolled into Andong City Hall just 20 minutes after the bell.
Unfortunately, a cattle mart awaited and on grabbing my ticket I saw the extent of the wait in front of me as two tellers struggled arduously struggled to make any headway in the first 30 minutes after my arrival.
With one eye on the clock, I watched their midday lunch break draw near and saw I was still 30 places back in the queue. Number 532 was going to take at least another 2 hours according to my calculations.
Suddenly, my hopes of smoothing things over with the teachers on th
e rafting trip looked endangered.
As I mulled over a text to Mr. Im to say that I may have to miss out, a young woman and her elderly mother appeared next to me and with little more than a polite squeak of acknowledgement, the younger woman gently placed her ticket on the table before me.
Confused, I looked at the 514 number and then back at her as she shyly turned away. The penny dropped as her mother grinned a gap-toothed smile at me.
Tripping over my tongue to mumble butchered words of gratitude in their native tongue, I watched them go with a smile on my face as I put my phone back down.
My number was called soon after and my carefully prepped folder was bread and butter for the lady teller.
I handed over the 60,000 ₩ cash – which is the only acceptable payment method – and watched as the teller scribbled my new address details on the bank of my ARC card with a permanent marker pen.
5 minutes later I was out the door.
It was official. I had sorted my new apartment in Yeongju and now the contract was signed and the visa renewed. Another year in Korea lay in wait.
Basking in the sunshine, I headed back for the bus station and looked forward to the rafting.
Summertime was here!