Hi! It’s been a while! Things had been so hectic the past few weeks as I ran around, running errand after errand, hoping to tie up all loose ends before heading over to Korea. I’m happy to say that I’ve been here for just a little over 2 weeks, and it’s time to catch up on everything that’s been happening! We’ll begin with my journey to South Korea. Buckle up and settle in with your fave drink of choice — this’ll be a long one!
THE JOURNEY HERE
On Friday, Feb 16, I frantically flitted around the house, packing one item after another. A few of my closest friends came over to keep me company and we munched on guac and chips. (With the whole “avocados cost an arm and a leg” situation, I thought it’d be an appropriate last-night-in-Canada snack. Unfortunately, accidentally threw too many onions in there….oops.) It was an all night ordeal; by the time I was satisfied with what I was able to pack within my 23KG per bag limit, it was 6AM.
Come Saturday morning, my family brought me to the airport to see me off. I knew since the beginning of time (aka since I decided to apply for the program) that I’d cry at the airport. Not because I’m sad to leave everyone behind, but there’s just something about knowing that you won’t physically be around your family for a prolonged period of time that gets you in your tear ducts. My dad actually teared up too and that made it harder. As of me writing this post though, I’m still living my best life and am not homesick! With technology these days, seeing your family doesn’t take more than just a click of a button and we truly are blessed to be growing up in this generation.
Now, if you don’t already know, I’m Asian. I could pass for Korean if someone didn’t know any better. Koreans speak to me in Korean, assuming I’m one of their own. This started the moment I was within the vicinity of the Korean Air gate in Toronto to board my flight. I always feel bad that I can’t answer them and have to hit them with a “죄송합니다, 한국사람 아니에요.” (Sorry, I’m not Korean). This revelation would come later, but for the first time, I would not be a visible minority. I’m still very much a foreigner, but I more or less blend in with the crowd — unless I speak, nobody would really bat an eye at me. This has its pros and its cons which I’ll perhaps talk about once I’ve been in the country for a longer period of time and am able to fully develop my thoughts on the topic.
I’ve decided my favourite airline remains as Cathay Pacific. Their food is great, and their in-flight entertainment selection is unparalleled. I was always blessed with endless hours of entertainment on Cathay flights, but was more than a little disappointed by the tiny selection provided by Korean Air. It’s okay though, I just watched “The Good Place” the entire time. (I downloaded the series on Netflix for offline viewing. Highly recommend).
After picking up my luggage, I headed over to a booth to pick up my SIM card. I will make a post soon to compare SIM options for anyone interested! I did a lot of research and SPOILER ALERT: the best deal for me was the plan with KRSIM.NET. Make sure you have your e-mail voucher and your passport when you go to the counter! (NOTE: grab a number. I stood in line thinking all I had to do was queue up, but turns out you had to grab a number to be called on.) It took a little longer than expected, but things worked out and I’m still happily using my unlimited data plan. So blessed, and worth every dollar I spent on it.
Next, I had to get myself from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1. Why? Because Korean Air flies to Terminal 2, but the EPIK Orientation shuttle leaves from Terminal 1. Now, this was the biggest struggle I’ve ever had. I had 2 large suitcases that were 50lbs each, one carry on suitcase of about 20lbs, a backpack weighing in at about 15lbs, and a camera bag that I had to protect at all costs. THAT’S A LOT OF STUFF FOR ONE PERSON TO CARRY. There’s a free shuttle bus that takes you from T2 –> T1, but let me tell you why this was tough af:
- It was just a normal bus — not a coach bus (aka. no storage for luggage. why not is my question, because literally everyone using this airport shuttle would need to bring their luggage, no??)
- You can’t bring your luggage trolley onto a normal bus, so that means that:
- You have to individually load all suitcases on board under the immense pressure of not wanting to hold up the bus
- The bus driver swerves like crazy, I was sore the next day from holding onto my >100lbs of luggage and trying to make sure nothing rolled down the aisles.
- You also have to individually UNload your suitcases and pray hard that the bus doesn’t leave while you’re on the ground and still have suitcases to bring down. I’m not usually one to be anxious but damn that was the most stressful time I’ve ever had abroad
After successfully arriving with all my belongings (took about 20 minutes), I had to find a place to store my luggage. Let me save you some time — as a rule of thumb, just head to the storage centre behind gate A on the departure level of Terminal 1. They have more room. You’re welcome. (For one night of storage for my 2 large suitcases, I was charged 20,000 KRW — money I was happy to pay in exchange for not having to carry everything out into the wild T-T)
At this point, I’m red as a tomato in the face and sweating more than I should be on a breezy winter day. Finally, I made my way down to where the airport subway line was, bought myself a cute T-Money card from the vending machine (4,000 KRW bc it was cute, but from a convenience store you can get a T-Money card for 2,500 KRW), and off I went to Unseo-dong, Incheon to settle into my airbnb. For dinner, I couldn’t be bothered with sitting down at a restaurant so I grabbed the first of many triangle kimbaps, ramyun, and a mint chocolate milk. (sweet. tastes like liquified ice cream. good but too sweet for me).
Before heading back to my airbnb for the night, I took one last look at the bright neon lights flashing at me from up above and fell in love. I realized that this is my home for the next year, and I’m loving it.
check out my instagram @selenashum for more frequent updates!