By the time this blog entry gets posted, I will officially have been living in Seoul for a month! Where did all the time go already!? After all the paperwork and documenting back in the United States, there is still one additional step! When you arrive in Korea, you have 90 days to apply and receive your Alien Registration Card (ARC). This card will serve as your ID during your stay and will allow you do things like open a bank account or have a phone line! Since every exchange student is trying to receive their ARC as well, make your online reservation as quickly as possible! However, you can only begin making your reservation 24 hours after landing in Korea. For me, the closest date I could get was almost a month after I arrived! Here are the items you need to bring to the Seoul Immigration Office on your appointment date:
- Alien Registration Application Form (preferably, you should fill it out on site because printing it yourself can distort the form)
- 3.5cm x 4.5cm Headshot Photo (Taken within past 6 months)
- Certificate of Residence (Received from your place of stay)
- Certificate of Enrollment (Received from your chosen University)
- 30,000 KRW Processing Fee if you choose to pick up your ARC or 33,000 KRW if you choose to have it mailed back
One of the most important aspects of the ARC you must remember is that you cannot leave the country without it. If you do, they will cancel your visa, ARC application, and you will not be able to re-enter South Korea. If you are able to snag an early appointment, the process time is only 2-3 weeks!
Even though you might not have your ARC yet, there are a lot of weekend trips you can take domestically! Last week, my friend and I hopped on a bus to Busan. From Seoul, Busan is about 4 hours away using the Express Bus. If you ever have taken the Megabus, Greyhound, or Peter Pan buses, the express buses in Korea are pretty much similar. One thing I thought was cool and different was the fact that you have to scan your ticket at the front of bus via a QR code. Then, it registers your seat on a large TV at the front which makes it easier for the driver to see when everyone has boarded.
Four hours and one rest stop later, we arrived in Busan! Using our only saving grace of navigation, Google Maps, we proceeded to take another bus to our destination: Shinsegae Centum City Mall. The day was spent mostly on buses; this one took another hour because of traffic and it took us an hour in the morning to get to the Express Bus Terminal in Seoul. AND when we got off the bus near Shinsegae, it was raining heavily and we did not have umbrellas! I would say our day was not starting off on the right foot!
The main reason for our trip: attend a k-pop event from one of my favorite groups: Stray Kids! Since they announced their comeback for the end of March, they also decided to do a four stop “Hi-Stay” tour in Korea to meet their fans (their fan-base name is Stay), starting in Busan. In this event, Stray Kids had talk segments, interaction with Stays, a one song performance, and hi-touch. If you do not know what hi-touch is, it is basically an event where you get to hi-five all the members. It doesn’t sound very appealing on paper, but I promise it is fun! Whenever groups go to the United States, they usually give this perk with your concert ticket. However, this event was better in my opinion because you could go up multiple times to interact with them since it was a set time rather than a one per person situation.
Despite the long trip here and being drenched, I would definitely say it was worth going to the event and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat! We spent the weekend at Busan, so next week will document the rest of the journey. 🙂