The decision to renew a contract with EPIK is pretty straightforward, however there is more to do than giving your co-teacher your autograph.
There is a little legwork involved but your school should be able to make the process of renewing your E2 visa as painless as possible.
After initially deciding to leave, my school were only too happy to help after I changed my mind in the nick of time. With a little persuasion, the Provincial Office of Education in Gyeongsangbukdo agreed to allow my renewal just a few short days after they began processing documents for my departure.
My school were delighted that I was staying and extended an invite to the staff excursion rafting in rural Myeongho, followed by a BBQ. It seemed I was welcomed back into the fold.
I signed my life away to my new mentor, Mr Im Eung Yeong, who in turn was kind enough to help me out.
He provided me with the list of documents that I needed to bring to the immigration office in Andong.
With Mr Im’s assistance, I gathered everything I needed and was given the final day of term off to go to Andong.
I agreed to join the gang for the rafting trip once the E2 visa business was taken care of.
For anyone in the area, the Andong office can only do renewals of an E2 visa on a Thursday from 10.30 – 14.00.
I completed the application form with a little help from Mr. Im – it’s in Korean.
The current ARC was always in my wallet, I just had to remember not to leave it on a bus.
I needed to retrieve my passport and the certificate of acceptance from the depths of my wardrobe. This certificate will be issued around the time you get accepted into EPIK. I believe I received mine at orientation.
The current contract plus a copy are also required. Your school can provide these.
The last thing you need is a copy of your main school’s business registration, presumably to prove you aren’t working for an imaginary school. Hogwart’s teachers need not apply.
Armed with my portfolio and some rehearsed Korean phrases, I rolled into Andong bus terminal bright and early.
Strolling into Andong City Hall just 20 minutes after the bell, I believed I would be walking back out with a new E2 visa pretty soon.
Unfortunately, a cattle mart awaited. I grabbed my ticket and took a seat.
I soon saw the extent of the wait in front of me as two tellers 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.
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 the rafting trip looked endangered.
I was thinking how to word the text to Mr. Im delivering the bad news that I may have to miss out. Cursing my luck, I hoped this wouldn’t damage the somewhat frayed relations that had simmered since my initial decline on the new contract.
As I mulled over the text, a young woman and her elderly mother appeared next to me. 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 an uncontrollable smile on my face.
My new number was called soon after and my carefully prepped folder was bread and butter for the teller.
I handed over the 60,000 ₩ cash – the only acceptable payment method – and waited.
Surprisingly, I didn’t receive a new ARC card. Instead, I watched the teller scribbled my new address details on the bank of my current ARC card with a permanent marker pen.
Five 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 E2 visa renewed. Another year in Korea lay in wait.
Basking in the sunshine, I headed back to the bus station and looked forward to the rafting.
Summertime was here!