Monday, February 20, 2012

Departure and Arrival :)

Driving to the airport, it still hadn't hit me.  A year in another country? A year away from home and my loved ones? I was about to embark on an extraordinary journey... and still, I had yet to feel the real pang of nervousness or anxiety.  The goodbyes were hard, but they seemed to be even harder from the air.  I had said goodbye to my parents and friends, but saying goodbye seemed much more realistic when I was up in the air, my family behind me and below me.  I finally released some good healthy tears but calmed myself down and reminded myself that although that was behind me, I also had a lot ahead of me as well.  The six hour plane ride from PA to San Fran was harmless and before I knew it I was arriving in California and making my way to the next plane.  Now, talk about a big plane... this thing was MASSIVE. Two floors, three separate rows across summing up to about 12 seats across with two walkways in between... even this description does not seem as accurate, as it does not justify the size.  On the 16 hour flight from Cali to Seoul, I crossed over the Pacific for the first time ever, and it was then when I was able to open the letter my Dad had slipped into my carry on.  I sat next to two Korean men on the flight who where probably wondering what was going on window-side when I started crying and blowing my nose. My Dad's letter was beautiful and a good closure for my departure from the states. I promised myself that would be the end of my tears, enough of the sad goodbyes and hello to the excitement of the new journeys.

Upon arrival at the Incheon Airport, after waiting a good hour to get through immigration, baggage claim, and customs, I finally met up with Valerie and David. From the airport we took the subway towards Itaewon and then grabbed a taxi to take up to the military fort where David is stationed.  They let me shower and refresh on base and from there we went to an awesome first dinner at Fuji, where we were able to try five different sushi rolls (my favorite!) and Valerie and I tried soju for the first time. Soju has a potent smell of rubbing alcohol and has the strong taste of vodka.  However, upon David pouring it into my soda, I realize that it's true what they say... soju is deadly, because although strong on it's own, when mixed with something else it's almost undetectable. A good first dinning experience!

We took another taxi off post in order to make our way to the hostel, Bebop House, where Valerie and I would be staying for the first few nights until orientation.  Once we arrived at Bebop, we were greeted by the others who were staying here as well.  We met and made friends with three other travelers from Brazil, France, and Germany.  Once we settled our things in and found our room, we made a quick seven eleven run, which was cool because they have them here but also strange because they sell none of the things we have back home.  I was intrigued by everything... I had to have touched almost everything and kept asking David and Val, "what's this?!"  We left with some soju (korean liquor) and cass (korean beer), among some other nonalcohol beverages.  We spent the rest of the night drinking in and chatting in the living room with our new friends.

Valerie and I hit the sack shortly after David went back to base and we were shortly woken up by him in the morning once again for breakfast. My new Brazilian friend, Jono and I walked to some cafes and find none of them to be open. Ten in the morning and no coffee shops are open? I'm going to have to get used to this. Needless to say, we had to go for the instant stuff this morning.  Coffee, a disappointment, breakfast... a success! David brought enough to make breakfast for all of us and our new friends, so we had a delightful little set up in the living room with everyone.

As for the rest of the day... Valerie, David, Jono, and I plan on enjoying some shopping in the city! :) Updates to follow...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Almost there...

It is officially February. In 19 days I will arriving at the Incheon International Airport in South Korea. Updates to come... :)