Hello From Korea!

안녕하세요 from Korea!

I am writing to you from my EPIK bus to orientation in Daejeon! It is about 3 hours long, so I thought I would get some blogging going because I have a lot to catch you all up on! Once I get to orientation I’ll post this. Let’s go allllll the way back to Sunday morning.

CHECKING IN

My flight was Sunday afternoon at 1:35pm from JFK in New York City. My parents and I left the house at about 9am and it took us about an hour and a half to get to JFK. Once at the airport I checked-in at the Asisana counter. I bought myself a business class ticket. (Yep! I had two roughs flights to/from Seoul the last time, so I decided to splurge; the airplane ticket helped pay for most of it.) Because I had a business class ticket I had a separate check-in area with practically no line. At one point I started getting nervous because the woman assisting me was pointing at my passport and turned the computer monitor to another Asiana check-in staff member, and they chatted quickly in Korean. Thankfully, everything was all right in the end!

I said good-bye to my parents and went in to security. Unlike the last time I flew to Korea, I had a little bit of waiting so I was able to dry my eyes before doing the actual security check. This line was also shorter because there was a separate line for business. My biggest worry was my beloved stuffed animal that I brought with me (no judging!). He has one of those old fashioned wind up music players inside that–when it did work–played “A Spoonful of Sugar” from Marry Poppins. I was worried that maybe the TSA would think it was something that it wasn’t. I made my parents promise they wouldn’t leave the airport until he had made it through safely. I’m ridiculous, I know, but he’s really important to me and my new Korean apartment would never feel like home if I did not have him.

Because I had a business ticket I was allowed to enter the lounge, I believe it was called the Star Alliance Lounge (Asiana is one of a few airlines that belong to this group). I decided to find my gate first and it ended up being on the complete opposite side of the airport, so I did not go to the lounge. I think I had about an hour and 45 minutes until boarding started. I made a phone call to my aunt and spoke with her for a while (Hi Auntie!! 😀 ). After we hung up two girls came up and asked me if I was in EPIK. One of them was someone I had spoken to over Facebook and knew she was going to be on my flight. It was soooo nice to sit and chat with them. It distracted me from my anxiety and sadness about leaving my family and friends, and also comforted me that this is all really happening, it’s not a dream!

THE PLANE

Our flight was delayed about 45 minutes because they were waiting for passengers from a connecting flight. Once on the plane…oh my gosh, it was beautiful. I had my own little cubby with a window and direct aisle access. At my seat was a blanket, pillow, slippers, headphones, and a cosmetic bag. Inside the bag was lotion, a comb, socks, eye-mask, toothbrush with the cutest little toothpaste ever, and tissues. Below the window I had one storage compartment (other seats had two but I guess in my seat that space was occupied by something else. No worries, I didn’t need it. My backpack and purse fit in the compartment no problem and I had room to spare.) The flight attendants were all very nice and super beautiful. The Asian airlines in general have the nicest uniforms. They put the American airline outfits to shame!!!

JFK

Our flight route.

Very large entertainment screen and lotsss of leg room!

Tray

A small table area, seat controls, and the entertainment system controller.

And we are off!

It says that Stamford is 26km away. Bye CT!

Flying over CT (I think)

Yesss Asiana!! A whole section dedicated to Disney! I watched Girl Meets World.

Cosmetic bag: lotion, earplugs, tissue, info about L’Occitane, comb, toothbrush and toothpaste, socks and eyemask

Shortly after take-off we had lunch.

I chose the Korean version—it would have been criminal not too! There were quite a few foods throughout the courses that I generally don’t eat. However, I paid a butt-load of money for that seat so I forced myself to eat everything! So yes, I ate the roast beef appetizer and I liked it wayyy better than the eggplant one! Will I be eating roast-beef all the time now? No. Sorry, Mom. The main course came with Kimchi, and I’m sad to say it was the worse Kimchi I’ve ever had in my life ☹ Sorry Asiana. It tasted really watery.

Starter 1: Wrapped zucchini with goat cheese & roast beef

Starter 2: Beef vegetable rolls

Starter 3: Korean Pumpkin porridge.

Main Course: (from top left clockwise) Kimchi, a fish side dish I can’t remember the name of, gochujang, rice, soup, vegetables for Bibimbap

The Bibimbap before adding and mixing

Bibimbap all mixed up.

A veryyyy fishy tasting soup. It was good though.

The not so yummy kimchi.

Dessert: Fruit!

Tea with Korean traditional cookies.

While eating I started watching the latest Avengers movie. I got through most of it and really enjoyed it. Once we finished eating they turned off the lights so I got sleepy and fell asleep missing the last 45 minutes of the movie. Woops! I’ll watch the rest eventually.

I think I slept for about an hour before I woke up and read some stuff on my Kindle. Then I watched Insurgent. During Insurgent I started getting hunry. It was about 8:30pm NY time at that point. People around me were ordering Ramen, which was one of the snacks that we had to chose from between meals. It smelled so good so I ordered it. I also hoped that the MSG would make me sleepy so I could get another few hours of sleep. The ramen was good, a little fancier than the ramen you would get from the supermarket because there were actual vegetables in it. It also came with a side of kimchi (I forced myself to eat some because again, I paid for it), and that yellow radish! My friend Victoria always orders extra of this radish whenever we would buy kimbap in Queens, so I thought of her and my friends when eating that.

Ramen in the dark!

I finished Insurgent and did end up falling asleep again for about an hour and a half. I woke up because we hit a little bit of turbulence. Since I was awake I tried watching the movie Hot Pursuit. I got like 30 minutes in and turned it off because all the funny jokes were dubbed over 😦 So I watched an episode of Girl Meets World. At this point they started turning on the lights so they could feed us again. Before and during the food I watched some Korean variety shows like Infinity Challenge and Return of Superman. Neither of these shows had subtitles so it was a good test of how much Korean I am to understand….hardly anything.

Our meal, called ‘snack’, had less options but was more than just “snack”. I chose the chicken with mac and cheese option. I was still full, and honestly felt a little sick from the ramen. I forced myself to eat as much as I could from the meals. I found out that I can eat salmon, or at least airplane salmon! It tasted different than I had imagined. I guess I’ll try to eat that more often.

Choices for the meal before landing. Definitely more than a “snack” amount of food!

Appetizer: Smoked salmon, grilled scallop, and vegetables

Main Course: Roasted Chicken breast, with macaroni & cheese and vegetables

Dessert: Fruite Tart

I started developing a headache during the meal so I declined the coffee/tea. They turned off the lights again and we had about 2.5 hours until landing. I fell asleep and slept really well until I woke up about 45 minutes to landing. I got up, brushed my teeth and started cleaning and reorganizing my area and backpack.

I know that it is crazy expensive, but I highly recommend flying business to Korea from the US if you can. The flight is about 14 hours from JFK. It was torture the two times I did it in 2010. This time I was very comfortable because I had room to stretch out. I was also able to get up and walk around without bothering anyone else. Check in, security, and boarding were also faster. And I had access to the Star Alliance Lounge at JFK. I will probably never be able to fly business again, but it was the best flying experience I ever had and I am sooo happy that I did it.  To me, it was worth every penny.

INCHEON AIRPORT

Once off the plane I waited for the two girls I had met earlier. It felt like I had met them dayssss ago because the flight was just sooo long. We went through immigration together and got our bags. I’m so glad that I met and we were able to assist eachother. Once we walked out to the main area of the airport we split up because we were all going to different places. One girl will be working in Song-do, not with EPIK but at a hagwon. The other girl was meeting her recruiting agency and I would see her at EPIK orientation later.

I made my way down to gate 9 (from gate 14) were the airport AREX desk was to pick up my EG SIM card. My phone still wasn’t unlocked so I wasn’t able to have them help me install it. I then walked back to gate 14 and looked for my hotel bus. For a while I didn’t realize that I had to cross the street for gate 14C. Eventually I figured this out. It was good practice because I would be meeting EPIK at gate 14 and departing from a bus at 14C as well. I think I waited 40 minutes for the shuttle because I had just missed the previous bus.

NEST HOTEL

The hotel staff were amazing!!  Someone helped me pull my luggage to the check-in desk. Then, while checking in the man helping me, Chris, asked why I had a room with two twin beds. I said because it was the cheapest while laughing. He smiled and whispered “Ok let me help you! Don’t tell!” Chris upgraded me to a room with a king bed and an ocean view!! He also personally helped me carry my bags up to my room. So nice!!!!

The room itself was beautiful; very modern. When I first entered it was extremely hot and the AC was set to 24C! I turned it down to 19 and threw the door open for the mean time hoping for a breeze (no luck).

View from the entrance, and all my crap!

Bathroom!

Rain shower

Fancy toilet with lots of buttons I didn’t even try pushing!

Robes and slippers provided!

Ice bucket and kettle. Underneath the counter was a fridge and some snacks. I did take the two complimentary water bottles because I was still feeling dehydrated from the flight.

Comfy bed! The plugs near the bed were international! Yay! Very convenient!

Samsung Smart TV… of course!!!

Bed and desk area

It was about 7:40pm at this point, so I decided to call my mom. I accidentally called her really early in the morning. I have been so used to adding hours to get the time in Korea, that I didn’t subtract to get the time back home. Woops! It was OK though, because my mom had to wake up shortly anyway.

After talking with my mom I opened my luggage and moved some stuff around so that it would be easier once I got to orientation. Then, I took a glorious shower. It felt amazinggggg to get all the airplane grossness and Korean humidityness off me!

While getting ready for bed I put the TV on and just browsed through some Korean channels. I eventually fell asleep and slept like a rock until my alarm went off the next morning at 7:30am.

❤ Natasha

P.S. Please excuse any spelling mistakes or grammar errors. Blame jet-lag!

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