Today was the big day! At 8:30 am we were told to meet in the lobby of our hotel with all our packed suitcases to wait for the two shuttle buses that would take us to the airport. Piling in our pieces of luggage onto the shuttle bus took a lot of time and patience; it was kind of like a game of Tetris. It also did not really seem too safe seeing that there was no way for the driver to look behind him as all of the bags were piled so high.
The ride was mostly quiet… we tried not to fall asleep but honestly, it was pretty difficult to stay awake. Eventually, we made it to the airport and headed to the check-in counters at the KoreanAir part of the terminal. The airport employee that helped us (us being Addie, Liam, and me) asked some questions about our trip. At the end of this exchange, he even asked if we could drink in Korea. He was all like It is a part of the culture, you should get an excuse. We all laughed it off and repeated program dismissal in low whispers. (Do not worry! All NSLI-Y rules will be followed by this cohort!~)
As was expected, the plane ride felt like it was FOREVER! A lovely 13-hour flight from JFK to 인천국제공항 (Incheon International Airport)~ I was in a middle seat between fellow NSLIYian Hunter and Shannon. However, though I would have appreciated a shorter flight (or maybe wish that I could have slept more of the duration of the flight), I did have a good time. I watched quite a few movies: I Feel Pretty, Midnight Sun, and Please Standby. I also played some of the games on the tv screen with Hunter. (We were both good at different games surprisingly!) Also, Hunter and I had some pretty good conversations, too. We talked about our passions, goals for this program, as well as the need for open-minded individuals. I found out that Hunter actually studied ASL through a tutor! I took one year of ASL during my senior year of high school and loved it. We talked about our experience with that, partaking in deaf culture (me with deaf friends and sign language club while she had theater to help her with that). We both agreed that once you start learning ASL, you will never want to stop!
We were also obviously fed on the plane and to be honest, it was not bad at all! (Except the corn on the pasta??? Like what??? I know I hate corn (and most of the population does not), but pasta is one dish that does not deserve to be infiltrated by any corn pieces.
But overall, the plane ride was not too bad. Besides the aches and pains from sleeping in an uncomfortable position or my mild case of motion sickness, everything was great! Honestly!
We landed in Korea a little past 5 pm. The minute we touched down, I was ready to jump off the plane; however, there was a bit more waiting. We went through customs, got our bags, and took the legendary (and essential) NSLI-Y group photo with the banner.
We left the airport and boarded a shuttle bus to make the hour commute to our guest house in Hongdae.
Arriving at our guest house was a struggle, to be honest. We were not dropped off right in front of the building so we had to try to maneuver the narrow streets of busy Hongdae with all our bags in hand (3 for my case…). But alas, we did make it.
Our late dinner was kimbap (김밥) though many of us could not eat the entire roll. They really fed us well on the plane. We all settled into our separate rooms. My roommates consisted of Alix, McKenzie, June, and Harmony. I got to stay in the loft area of the room which meant I had to climb a staircase to reach my bed. It was really fun at first, but I did end up hitting my head on the ceiling three times during the first night.
My whole room fell asleep pretty early–like 9:30 to 10 pm. We were konked out! Ready to rest up for a whole day of orientation~
Thanks for reading this blog post! I am currently writing this while sitting on the downstairs floor of this guesthouse (which is also a cafe) waiting to start our second day of Arrival Orientation. Today I meet my host family??? Like what? I am so extremely nervous… 저는 고민이 많아요… sigh.
- Emma 엠마