On Wednesday, I prepared to get on my first flight for a solid 13 hours of what I hoped would be nice, restful naps and movie-watching. I was so excited to finally be on my way to Korea with Rachel that I was barely even worrying about the flight. I can nap anytime at home and school, so surely napping on the plane shouldn’t be a problem, right? I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The first few hours were fine. Rachel and I had met three other students going to Sogang University already who were just as excited as we were. We found various ways to entertain ourselves and were really excited to see that The Scorch Trials was one of the movies included on the list. We put on our complimentary slippers and sat back to wait for the plane to break through the clouds. During takeoff, I was really happy that I had a window seat. The view going up was neat, and I looked forward to watching the plane burst through the clouds.
I changed my mind about an hour later. Rachel and I had the inner two seats in our row, and there was a very nice man sitting in the aisle seat. We found out that his daughter actually graduated from Sogang, so he was very excited to learn that we were going to study there. The only problem was he never got up, and we were way too awkward to keep climbing over him. I don’t know how he managed to stay sitting for so long, but I was dying. We also had our window cover down most of the ride so the light wouldn’t bother the other passengers, which meant I didn’t get to see much after that first half hour of flying. Next time I’ll remember to grab an aisle seat (like everyone recommended) because it would be very worth it.
The flight accommodations themselves were actually pretty nice for such a long flight. We got slippers, a blanket, and a pillow for all of our napping needs (if I had been able to sleep at all), and the staff was very nice and helpful. The food wasn’t bad either. My first meal was bibimbap, which is a Korean mixed rice dish, and the second was a pasta dish. I have nothing to compare it against, but I would give Korean Air a solid 9/10 for service.
By the end of the flight, I was tired and ready to be back on the ground. The last two hours of the flight were the longest two hours of my life. I was worried I’d start off my trip in a horrible mood, but as the shoreline came in sight, excitement overshadowed all
of my other emotions. The months of waiting were over, I survived my flight, and the plane swooped in to land just as the sun was beginning to
set. It finally hit me–I was in Korea!
The following hours were a mad dash to get through customs, find our luggage, and make it to Starbucks so we could be picked up by a guide from Sogang. Then we had an hour-long bus ride and walked the final few blocks to the school with all of our luggage in tow. We made it to the dorm 15 minutes before check-in ended, and I was herded off to my room without even knowing which floors Rachel or my new friends were on.
We eventually found each other and set off on a hunt for food. It was late and we were tired and hungry, so we thought we’d leave trying a Korean restaurant for the next day. We ended up at Pizza Maru just down the block from our dorm, and even though we didn’t know Korean and the pizza guy knew almost no English, we were able to get our cheese pizza. No matter where you are, everybody speaks pizza. After eating our cheese pizza with corn on it–which was unexpected–we trudged back to the dorm ready to sleep for the next decade
Even though we took off Wednesday morning, we landed Thursday night. I had my first experience with jet lag when I realized that even after being awake for a solid 26 hours, I still couldn’t sleep. That first night was rough, but when I woke up to my view of the city the next morning and thought about all of the great experiences I’ll have here, I knew it was all worth it.