Thursday, August 19, 2010

Notes from 40,000 feet.

I finally made it to Korea, after many trials and challenges (and blessings). Here is a note from the very sleep-deprived me, writing on the flight to Seoul:

The last 48 hours have been full of every kind of emotion and as I sit on the plane I still can’t wrap my mind around what I am about to do. It’s too big to handle, and every time I think about the realities of my life now-- the biggest, most life-changing decision I’ve made for myself in a long time-- overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe it. So let’s stick with the present. Here’s a blow-by-blow of the amazing(ly horrendous) schedule Emily and I have been keeping lately… not because you NEED to know all the detail, but because this is pretty hilarious, and in some ways: kind of impressive.

Tuesday, August 17th

- Met at SeaTac airport. The plan at that point was to fly to San Francisco and catch the international flight to Seoul (capitol of South Korea) that night.

- Goodbyes to the parents and security lines later, we were on our way to the N gates.

- All hell broke loose. Due to the
President’s visit to Washington that day, no planes were allowed to fly between 9:30am and 11:30am. Our plane was scheduled to leave SeaTac in this time, of course, which also meant we would miss our connection to South Korea that day. Shoot.
- Panic ensued as Emily and I rearranged our flights, ran through our terminal with jumbled bags, and listened to about 135098 people give their best performances to those poor customer service agents. Not that we were all that happy, either. But seeing other people get in a huff reminded us to be nice… or, nicer.

- With our flight rescheduled, Emily and I made the decision to just stay in the airport and rough it.
11:45am- Rode the inter-airport tram a few times around, just because we were sleep deprived and needed something to cheer us up. In retrospect this doesn’t sound like much, but I remember us laughing. A lot. Met a sassy older woman coming back from Palm Springs look pretty fashionable, so we had a chat. I love seeing elderly women in little
black dresses.
- I napped on a table in the food court. The sonic booms from the President’s fighter jets woke me up. I have to say I’m thankful nobody in the airport wanted to know what I thought of the President that day.

1pm- We made camp in the C gates. Two guys with their police dogs were waiting to go to Alaska. These huge, beautiful dogs ride on the flight and-- get this-- the police officers have to try to keep them sitting on the floor in between their legs on the flight over. In case you’re wondering, it’s basically impossible. I got a good laugh out of this.
- We scored a spot on the floor underneath some phone booths. Good news: 2 outlets. Bad news: Dorito crumbs everywhere. We took the prime location over the mess.

Between 2pm and 2am everything is kind of a blur and can only recount the cheese-pesto pizza I had for dinner, my Skype sessions, a little Hulu-ing, and the 20 minute nap I took on the floor. We figured after everyone cleared out of the airport it would get quieter, but it did just the opposite.
The quietest part of our terminal was this mother and daughter (2 years old, I later found) who were flying to Arizona in the morning. They’re originally from Thailand so this was definitely a point of interest in my travel book, as I‘m still enamored by that country. We made friends with them which allowed all of us to watch one another’s bags when needed. I still don’t know how that little girl slept through industrial-sized vaccuums, MSNBC blasting, and other random inexplicable airport noise. I know I couldn’t.

Wednesday, August 18th

2am- Emily and I took a stroll to go get some coffee. As in both of us drank some. For those of you who know me well, you know I do NOT drink coffee under virtually any circumstance. But with our vow to stay up all night to help adjust us to Korean time, it was definitely necessary. This was, of course, followed by a photo shoot in the airport. Because we were feeling pretty insane by that point.
3am- A small boy threw a temper tantrum in our terminal. For about an hour. It became upsetting to listen to, mostly because the mom didn’t know what to do, was obviously at her wit’s end, and was obviously tempted to become aggressive with her child. Oh, and she wouldn’t move to another, less-populated area. So that in itself was disturbing.
4:15am- Finally, the little girl sleeping next to us with her mom decided to befriend Emily and I through a dance party. Tumbling, twirling, and Emily’s rad DJ’ing skills included.
5:30am- Waited for our flight to San Fran. I had personally hit the 24-hours-without-sleep mark at this point.
6:30-8:30am- The biggest fog of a flight I had ever been on. Asleep before everyone was even seated.

Fast forward to 1pm, and we finally ran into some other EPIK teachers, many of whom are on the flight I’m writing this blog on. It was nice to relate to other people’s stress about getting over to Korea, especially the paperwork. It’s pretty clear that everyone is confused about something, but we’re all just going for it. I knew the first month adjusting to Korean life would probably be the hardest, but now I’m beginning to define why. At least it’s nice to know that none of us are alone.

In case anyone is trying to figure out just HOW LONG we’ll have been traveling to get to our orientation, we’ll get to our orientation around 8am PST on August 19th (midnight in Korea, August 20th). The 48-straight hours of travel time is well worth it.

Our orientation, at Jeong-ju University (view from my window, above), will be last until the 26th of August. Between lectures, Korean movies, and meeting new people, I will have internet access and would love to talk to any of you! Please hit me up on Skype or Facebook anytime.

Sending love,
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  1. laura on coffeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I loved this post Laura!! I can't imagine the airport craziess but the picture looks well worth it. Love u!

  3. glad you made it safely after such a long journey :)

  4. How exhausting, and you even put positive and hilarious spins on all of it, I am impressed. So glad you are there, STARTING YOUR JOURNEY!!:) Can't wait to hear more!

  5. glad you made it there safe and sound! :) that airport adventure sounds SO exhausting and crazy!