My trip to Korea was hectic . . . to say the least. My friends and I got to the airport after having been notified via emails and text messages that our first flight to Atlanta would be delayed for about two hours. No big deal! Spending an hour to check our bags in and get through long security lines are all part of the experience. What we weren’t accounting for was the announcement that all Atlanta flights were on hold and were experiencing delays due to the weather. We watched the screen at our gate change our flight’s departure time from 8:10 to 9:10 to 9:30, finally landing on and sticking with 9:46 P.M. Being able to make it to our connecting flight to Incheon would be an extremely tight squeeze. Waiting in a line full of angry and stressed people to talk to the staff at the desk did nothing to ease our dampening mood.
When we reached the front of the desk, we were informed that, while not impossible, we could potentially make it in time to reach our next flight in Atlanta—the lady at the desk could not guarantee, however, that our flight would not get pushed further back. Right in the middle of talking to my dad over the phone and figuring out if we should reschedule our flights (and therefore our entire schedule), we were hurriedly called up to the front desk by a staff member. They quickly told us that they changed our flight to another flight to Atlanta scheduled to leave at 9:15. In a flash, we exchanged our boarding passes, confirmed that our bags would be switched over to this new flight, and sped through the airport looking for our new gate. And once we thought we were in the clear at our new gate, a ding signalled to us that this new flight had also been pushed back to 9:33.
We made the final decision to stick with this flight and prayed that we could run fast enough to reach our connecting flight in Atlanta. The ladies at this new front desk assured us that our arrival gate and connecting flight gates were close enough that we would make it.
We reached our gate in Atlanta and were the last people to board the plane. Fourteen grueling hours later, we arrived in Incheon at four in the morning. After four more hours of waiting, we lugged our bags, reached our AirBnB that we would be staying at before moving into the EWHA international dorm, dragged our bags up five flights of stairs, and allowed ourselves to finally rest.
Although getting to South Korea was stressful, the experiences I have already had living in Seoul have more than enough made up for it. The other day, I visited Yeouido Hangang Park. The park is situated right along the Han River, making for a great picnic spot— which most Koreans take advantage of! At the river, you can rent mats or even tents to hang out with friends and eat. My friends and I also rented bicycles for an hour, and rode on the bike trail for a scenic tour of the river. This was definitely my favorite part of visiting the Han river. Riding my bike while getting a scenic tour of the river was not only relaxing, but entertaining.
Because our AirBnb was located in Hongdae, we also spent a good amount of time roaming the streets and getting to know the area. Even though it was hard to carry our luggage up five flights of stairs to get to our AirBnb, the rooftop view of the city from our location was so rewarding. Hongdae is reminiscent of New York: bright city lights with large crowds and a bustling street life. My friends and I got lost wandering the streets and browsing the different outlet stores. We would grab Korean fried chicken for dinner, then return to the streets just in time to watch the different street performers. Most performers either dance K-pop covers or sing slow ballads, and the best part is that those two different types of performances are usually performing right next to each other. You can spend some time watching covers of BTS songs, and move a couple of feet to hear someone belting out a slow Ed Sheeran song.
I am looking forward to experiencing even more aspects of Seoul during my stay here. I am now getting situated into my classes at EWHA; I have had one official day of classes so far. I have been busy making new friends and buying school and dorm supplies. I feel like I am finally getting settled in Seoul.