Asia Time, BIG time.
The morning started out wonderfully with our mini tea party. S and I had iced coffee and some bakery treats I bought at the metro station. Our fourth graders were on a field trip so she suggested that we use our free time to take a business trip to finish up my phone plan. On our way out I ran into some starstruck first or second graders who just stared even after I asked them a question in Korean. They were impossibly cute.
We arrived to one of 1 million KT stores so that I could finally complete the Korean trifecta: visa, ARC, and lastly Korean phone number.
Everything seem to be on track. Until… The store workers told me that my previous Sim card on another carrier was still active and they couldn’t give me a KT Sim card.
I was incredibly confused to say the least. When I first arrived in June I pre-ordered a 90 day maximum prepaid Korean Sim card. It was emphasized that the Sim card could not be used past 90 days because “foreigner” so when it expired in August I put it away and returned to my US Sim card which has some data but is not ideal for Korean daily life.
Of course they said the Sim card was not KT and they couldn’t cancel it on site. So we had to leave the store, call the Sim card company, fax a written form and a copy of my passport to said company so that they could cancel the prepaid Sim card that expired in August. S did say I should call her 언니 (big sister) which marks a special change in our relationship.
At that point we had run out of time so I met J after work and we went to a different KT store. I already had the paperwork filled out from the first store but of course this store was out of Sim cards so we had to find a third KT store (Which is luckily not very difficult because they are almost as ubiquitous as coffee shops).
So after 3 stores and 4 months, I have a real Korean phone number.
The plot twist? After a well timed text welcoming me to KT I realized that the prepaid Sim card was actually a KT Sim card all along.
(It wouldn’t have made any difference but it was one more thing to laugh about in the absolute chaos that has been the accomplishment of this trifecta.)
On the flipside I got to experience national healthcare. In a stroke of luck there were no hiccups and my insurance has been registered. I was able to visit a specialist clinic, see the doctor within 5 minutes of entering, get tests done, and pick up prescriptions all under 30 minutes and for less than $11 including cost of medicine.
And no worries! I thought I may have developed adult asthma due to air quality or new allergens but it’s just a combination of recent life changes (stress, fasting, indigestion) so we’re all good. The doctor suggested avoiding stress, alcohol, and spicy food which are the three basic pillars of Korean life.
I need to give endless thanks to my friend J for his endless patience as my guide at KT and translator at the clinic. Very grateful for the people in my life who continue to put up with me.
Since I received my paycheck this week, although after all of these expenses I’m not sure how much is left, we treated ourselves to fried pork cutlet and coffee at the most postmodern coffee shop I’ve ever seen.
In this coffee shop there was no outside sign, I almost thought there was no menu, all the tables and chairs were painted black, and there were absolutely no decorations on the wall. But the coffees were great, with no silly distractions like music or art work or color. For contrast, across the street was a toy store (?) selling Teletubbies.
After parting ways I wandered the rainy backstreets of my neighborhood before calling it a day.