The flight to South Korea was just another obstacle on the way to South Korea, but the final one until I could finally set foot in my study abroad country. There was no way 24 hours of traveling in the skies and through various airports was going to be a pleasant experience. We arrived in Tampa International Airport at around 7AM on August 23rd. While checking my bags the American Airlines employee made a joke about “Seoul Food”, but nobody laughed….too early for jokes. ;] We made our way to the gate and decided to get some Burger King in the airport since it was the only thing open. I hate breakfast at Burger King…it gave me a stomach ache later.
The flight from Tampa to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport wasn’t too painful. I spent most of my time playing Pokemon Yellow on my Game Boy Color. That game never gets old. Once we arrived in Dallas I decided to have a burrito via a recommendation from my Mom at Blue Mesa Grill in the airport. They advertised a 12″ burrito and I asked the Spanish employees if they had Carne Asada…their response wasn’t convincing but I was hungry. The burrito was a mess.
First of all it was 6″ burrito…not 12″ as advertised and it cost me $10. I passed a McDonald’s on the way there and probably would have been better off eating there. The burrito had almost nothing appetizing in it and fell apart the minute I started eating it. I paid extra for sour cream as well. It was a waste..but I was hungry so whatever.
The next flight from Dallas to Tokyo was the real challenge. I landed a window seat for a 12+ hour flight. I didn’t anticipate I would need to pee at least once every hour. The Japanese woman sitting next to me slept almost the entire flight so it was awkward waking her up every time I had to use the bathroom. American Airlines served some stomach turning food as well…especially this frozen ham and cheese sandwich. Towards the end of the flight I got the guts to speak some Japanese to her and it felt great to be able to communicate with a real Japanese person in a language I have been studying for years. After 12+ hours of boredom we finally arrived at Narita Airport…the view of Japan flying in was awesome. The rice fields and feudal castles were visible from the plane. I thought to myself I will come to Japan one day!
Once we touched down in Narita Airport we had to pass through another inspection and then head to our connecting gate. Narita Airport was awful. I would be happy if I never have to return to Narita Aiport again. There was no air conditioning and it was ridiculously hot and congested in there. There was no free Wi-Fi and I honestly expected a Japanese airport to be more high-tech. Ironically, Incheon Aiport in Seoul has free Wi-Fi and looks more modern than Narita Airport. In addition, during my visit you could only get 79 yen per dollar and with items well over 1,000 yen you were sure to lose tons of money if you exchanged and bought something there. I decided to wait it out and exchange my dollars in Seoul for wons.
The flight to Seoul was actually the best flight of the entire ride. The American Airlines flight was hosted by Japan Airlines (JAL) and they were the most courteous flight attendants I have ever had the pleasure of riding a plane with. The view of Tokyo at night from the plane was amazing…completely lit up.The flight was less than 2 hours, but they still provided a meal and the meal was delicious. A fusion of different Asian cuisines in a bento box. The flight attendants also brought plenty of drinks and stayed busy throughout the flight instead of just sitting in their seats like on the other American Airlines flights. I would recommend Japan Airlines to travelers.
After the flight I finally arrived in Seoul at around 9:00PM on August 24th. I passed quickly through the passport inspection and then proceeded to the baggage claim. Korean people use these carts to put their baggage that I have never noticed anyone using in the United States. I decided to grab one and it helped me out since my bags were so heavy. I spotted another American and decided to wait next to her for my bags. Turned out she was also on her way to Yonsei and I made my first buddy.
We decided to go together and exchanged our cash and then headed to the bus stop to wait. The bus took quite awhile, for some reason all the other buses kept coming around at a quicker rate. When it finally came we were so excited to be on our final transfer to Yonsei University. One interesting thing on the bus was that the bus driver made sure everyone had their seat belts on…in the USA it is sit at your own risk. There was also a television with Korean TV on and Korean magazines in front of us.
We got off on the Ehwa University exit as recommended by Yonsei and then I realized I was going to need to carry over 75 lbs of luggage (4 bags) up a hill to SK Global House. Luckily, we found another foreigner who helped us out. I am not accustomed to walking up hills, especially with luggage and when we finally made it up it was a great relief. We were given our key cards to our dorms and I headed in to find out I got my requested roommate. Awesome.
He wasn’t in the room when I made it to the dorm and I decided to go exploring downstairs. Turns out there is tons of things in the SK Global House building. Restaurants, a 24-hour convenience store, a fitness center, laundry mat and dry cleaning center, phone store, computer labs and more. I was fascinated…especially with the computer lab since I wasn’t sure how to hook up my internet yet and wanted to update my family and friends on my status.
I came back up afterwards and unpacked a little before calling it a night and heading to bed. I had arrived in South Korea and I was officially a student at Yonsei University.