After Lord knows how many hours (it was actually just 23 hours) of sitting on stone cushion seats, wandering around terminals, consuming preservative-packed plastic meals, and praying frantically during turbulence at 38,000 feet in the air, I have finally made it to my next adventure— the beautiful South Korea.
As I scurried off of the plane at the Incheon International Airport, I was greeted by a surprisingly speedy immigration line, quite a few curious stares, and even an “secret” photo shoot by an Asian teen (I see you with your phone pointed at me girly!). I will say, I was extremely relieved to see that just about every sign was subtitled in English, as I shamefully did not commit to learning even basic Korean before I came. Worry did start building up inside me as I noticed that I still did not have any data service, and therefore no way of alerting my rep that I had arrived. And yet, for some strange reason, I did not mind the idea of hitching the cab to a hotel and arriving at the campus in the morning so I could explore the city at night.
Anywho, once I made it to the baggage claim (where I then got service…) and identified my “English-speaking” cab driver, I headed over to the Currency Exchange to retrieve a whooping 100,000 Korean won, thinking getting more cash to be easily accessible later (Rookie Mistake #1 perhaps?). Then, we headed out the airport for the cab even though the insane humidity tried to bully me back inside.
Though I hadn’t exchanged too many words with my driver at this point, I noticed that my phone was on its last leg, so I asked him if he by any chance had a charger. *Cue awkward silence.* He then repeats the word “charger” back to me in a thick Korean accent, and then I realized he did not understand. After trying to communicate what I wanted for the next few minutes to no avail, I gave up and transformed my phone into an almost useless contraption by turning it on to ultra power saving mode. Now, at this point, I had come to a new realization that I had never really considered: just because someone “knows/can speak” English, does not mean that they can communicate with a *native English speaker!
About 11 pm in Korea, I finally arrive at the campus. I am then escorted by one of the amazing Mason Korea staff members all the way up to the 28th floor to my new home for the next four months. After he left and I dropped my bags, I was met with the view—complete with an illuminating city-scape against a matte black night sky, my new campus home for the semester, and the streets I couldn’t wait to wander.