Korea diary 4: First working day after arriving here exactly one month ago

Ladies and gentlemen, I have news. Yes, the title spoils it all: I’ve got a job here already. And I said already, because honestly I didn’t think I would find a job this fast. Below you can find my road to this new opportunity.
On January 26 I arrived in Korea, around 21:15-21:30 in the evening. As it is also winter here, it was pretty cold. A new adventure awaited. And although I had saved up some money to survive the first few months, having an income would be convenient. And it has two other benefits: it allows me to stay here for a little longer, and I gain more experience by working in a foreign country.

Applying

In order to apply for a job, you need to have an Alien Registration Card (ARC). This is proof that you are a resident (in most cases for a limited amount of time) and that you are not a tourist. And as you could read in my previous post, I was able to receive it about one and a half week ago.

At that time, I had already applied for a few jobs. The kind of job didn’t really matter to me. As an ‘alien’ I hardly have connections here and I don’t speak the language well (yet!). Based on that I think I don’t need to have a lot of expectations of working here.

In the days after receiving my ARC, I had applied for even more jobs. In most of the vacancies I applied for, they were asking for kitchen hand/kitchen helpers in restaurant. It’s work that doesn’t require a lot of knowledge (well, you need to know ingredients) and doesn’t involve a lot of customer interaction. And as in most cases the other staff in the kitchen speaks proper English, I thought I would stand a chance to get hired.

The first few days, none of the restaurants and companies replied to my applications. I wasn’t sure if, how, and when Korean companies would notify someone. So I had to be patient, and in the meantime I looked around for other jobs.

View on Han river

Interviews

Finally, one restaurant replied. It’s an Indian restaurant in Itaewon, a neighbourhood with a lot of foreign people. They would pay the minimum wage. Well, at least it’s something. I made an appointment for an interview: Thursday February 23, around 15:00. I was happy for making this kind of progress quite soon after my arrival here.

A few days later, I had two other invitations: one on Tuesday February 21, and one on February 23 as well, around 13:00. The interview on Tuesday was at a restaurant in Itaewon as well (full-time), close to the station. The other restaurant I had to go to on Thursday is a Spanish restaurant, located in Hapjeong (part-time). Both restaurants would pay better than the Indian restaurant, so I prefer working in one of these restaurants.

The interviews with my preferred restaurants went well. The first restaurant would notify me ‘probably on Thursday’. The Spanish restaurant wanted to shake hands immediately (with good news). So basically I was hired already. I told chef Alejandro that I would be happy to work for him, but that I preferred to wait for  news of the other restaurant as that is a full-time job. Luckily he understood. I cancelled the third interview at the Indian restaurant, and went home.

Friday, late afternoon. Still no news of the first interview. I decided to call. The owner told me that the process takes a little longer as they are considering all of their candidates carefully. For me, that was the moment to say yes to the Spanish restaurant. It’s part-time, but it covers my rent for the month.

Although I am not in desperate need of money, I just want to have a job, and not having to spend all of my savings that I have built up over the past years. Today, Sunday February 26, is my first working day. I’m pretty excited, and I will keep you all up to date about my first working days.

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