So it’s official, I suck at keeping up with my blog. My sincerest apologies to anyone who had great hopes of me keeping you well informed about my move to Korea thus far. I promise to change! I really do! I obviously have a lot to fill everyone in on, so this may take a few posts to do. For starters to answer the obvious question, yes I am in fact in Korea right now! I arrived in South Korea two weeks ago today. Thus far it has been quite the adventure, but one that I am enjoying very much. So to get you caught up I should probably start from the beginning.
I flew over to Incheon, South Korea from Detroit, Michigan on 16 March. My recruiting agency arranged all of the travel plans for me, all I had to do was confirm my vital information to the travel agent and go to the airport to get my boarding pass printed. I spent the few days prior to that packing for my trip, which was no small feat. I knew going into the packing process that I couldn’t look at as me packing for a year long trip because obviously I was moving into my own apartment complete with washing machine and all so I tried to think of it as packing for a bunch of two week trips. I settled on that mindset because I figured for each season I would need slightly different clothes, but with some decent overlap obviously. I tried to focus on packing mostly things that would be useful to wear to both work and on my time off. It was still one hell of a struggle getting my two checked bags in at under fifty pounds each! I will be the first to admit that I definitely overpacked a bit, but in my defense I did rationally think about everything that I was packing, weighing its pros and cons to decide if it really was worth the weight. In the end I got everything I needed stuffed into my two checked bags and the roller bag I was going to carry on the plane. My carry on was way over the posted weight limit on carry on bags for my flight from Chicago to Incheon, but I had never had my carry on bag weighed in all of my flying experience so I wasn’t worried in the slightest.
My last night at home my mum and I decided to just pull an all-nighter seeing as we had to leave for the airport at four in the morning. My mum and dad drove me to the airport in Detroit and we said our goodbyes, which were of course quite sad. I have been away from home for very long periods of time before seeing as I went to college over five hundred miles away, but still to know that I won’t see them in person again for over a year definitely sucks. Well we said our goodbyes and I checked my bags and got my boarding pass. Security was a breeze and a short flight later I was in Chicago, my only layover on my way to Korea.
In O’Hare I had to transfer over to the international terminal, which meant leaving the secured area and going through security again. Unfortunately when I tried to go through security I found out that what I had taken to be my boarding pass was nothing more than a worthless piece of paper my first airline had printed out for my with my flight information on it. So I found the check in desk for Asiana Airlines and went through the check in process again, where lo and behold I was asked to put my carry-on roller bag up on the scale. Panic set in immediately as I already knew that my bag was about twice the allowed weight for a carry-on bag on Asiana. Thus I was forced to shell out $100 to have it checked through to Incheon, but I guess on the plus side it was one less bag that I personally had to lug around, and it was still cheaper than having stuff shipped over to me from the States.
Finally I was all ready to get on a plane to Korea, barring a few last minute phone calls I made in the airport to friends and family members. I said my goodbyes to everyone, and told them all to Skype me when they could. I boarded my flight and was well on my way. The flight itself was rather uneventful, far too long for my tastes, but uneventful none the less. Each seat had its own tv where you could choose from a decent selection of movies and t.v. shows that reset and repeated every two hours. So I plugged in my noise-canceling earphones and watched five movies back to back with some intermittent changing to a soccer highlight show and some episodes of Spongebob Squarepants. The food was decent enough, and I was even able to grab a little bit of sleep before we arrived in Seoul.
Getting through immigration and customs in the Seoul airport was actually surprisingly easy. I filled out two forms, one short one for immigration that just had my vital information on it like where I was going and for how long and one for customs that I filled out my name and passport info and checked the box saying I had nothing to declare. At the immigration desk they took my form, scanned my passports, took a picture of me, and took fingerprint scans of my two index fingers. So any crimes I wanted to commit had to be done eight fingered apparently! Then I went down to the baggage claim area where there were free luggage carts and collected my bags. Not a single one got lost! Anyone with any previous knowledge of my travels knows that this was a minor miracle seeing as the travel gods have some sort of personal vendetta against me and my belongings. I handed my customs form to a guy in a suit and that was that! There was a currency exchange in the customs area before entering the main part of the airport, which I read online offers pretty close to the best rate, so I exchanged my money and entered Korea.
After twenty some hours of travel I was finally in Korea, but my journey was not quite over yet. Now I had to find the right bus to take me down to Suncheon. It ended up being easier than I expected which was a pleasant surprise. In under fifteen minutes I had my bus ticket and had called my recruiter to let him know that everything was going swimmingly. I killed the next couple of hours before my bus left doing a combination of eating airport food and surfing the internet on my laptop. The bus ride down was just as uneventful as the plane. There were only about five people on the bus and it was direct to Suncheon, so in about four hours I arrived in my new home for the next year. My director and her son picked me up from the bus terminal and drove me to my new apartment. It was already close to midnight, so she helped me get my bags up to the apartment, it’s on the fourteenth floor, then gave me the keys and checked to make sure my phone was working. She told me that she would call me the next day with details about starting work on that Monday, and then bid me goodnight.
It was quite a long trip but I was finally in my new apartment in Korea. This is just the tip of the iceberg for the stories of my first two weeks here, but the post is already quite long so I think here is a good place to stop. I promise to be much better about writing for the blog from now on! Expect another post tomorrow about my apartment and my first week here in Suncheon!