Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Safe and Sound

So I made it to Seoul in one piece! I had absolutely no complications flying, which made things so nice. I left Cedar Rapids around 10:15 am (and was surprised by my aunt at the airport - thanks Janet!) and landed in Chicago ahead of schedule (which always helps). We left O'Hare at 12:35 (as promised) and landed in Seoul at 3:55 (as promised). I flew Korean Air from Chicago to Seoul and had one of the best flying experiences of my life! Here's why:

1. There was ample leg room (even for a 6' tall guy like myself!)
2. Almost every hour, the stewardesses came around with a tray of orange juice to help quench your thirst
3. I was fed two very good meals (for airline food that is). Lunch consisted of bibimbap (a dish made up of rice, cucumbers, beef, seaweed, and various other vegetables - delicious!), seaweed soup, and a fruit cup. Dinner was pasta with veggies, a little side salad, a roll, and cake. Both very filling and good! Plus I also got honey roasted peanuts! Extra points...
4. Each seat had their own personal TV with about 80 different movie selections, over 200 albums of music to listen to, games, books to read, and a flight tracker. Needless to say I was thoroughly amused the entire flight.

It also helped that there was no one sitting next to me, so I was able to stretch out even more. We flew over the Arctic Circle and at one point you could see the ice floating in the ocean from the plane. Stellar!

Once we landed in Seoul, I breezed through customs (I don't think the lady even looked at my customs sheet), found my luggage (they came out together!) and exchanged all of my dollars for won. The next step was to meet up with the EPIK representative so that I could get on the bus to Kyung Hee University. This proved to be a bit more of a challenge because I went the wrong way out of the baggage claim doors and ended up having to double up my tracks to correct my mistake. So I missed the bus that was loading and had to wait another 45 minutes for the next one. But this turned out to be a good thing...

While waiting, I met another participant from Iowa. He grew up in Prairie City and was amazed when I asked if he went to PCM. I worked with two people that went to PCM at the Gallagher and he knew them both! What a small world. His name is Scott and he graduated from Iowa State in 2007.

At the baggage claim door near where we were sitting, there were about 50 professional photographers, 8 police officers, and various bystanders waiting patiently for something. We found out that a Korea actress was to be coming through those doors at any minute and everyone wanted to be ready for her entrance. When she showed up, the cameras flashed non-stop for a good 10 minutes. The odd thing was that no one made any noise. If this had been America, there would've been screaming and yellling. Guess that's just not the Korean way. The real commotion started when she went to go leave. All of the cameramen and bystanders swarmed her like bees to honey. It was a very interesting sight to see.

Finally, it was time for us to board the bus for our hour and a half ride to the university. We hit a little bit of traffic, but nothing too bad. We got to campus and all of the guys unloaded their luggage at the guys dormitory, got back on the bus and were dropped off at the registration site. We recieved a name badge, room key, bottle of water, towels, face towels, training materials, an alarm clock, and were placed in groups for Korean lessons. Obviously, since I know nothing except for hello, I will be put in the lowest level.

That's all that I've got for right now. Before I sign off, I want to leave you with a list of things that I have already experienced/learned at life in Korea:

1. Korean paparazzi is just as vicious as the American paparazzi
2. Catholic churches have a neon cross on top of them, annoucing to the city that they are indeed Catholic
3. Korean truck drivers tend to watch television while driving, usually having a sporting show of some sort on.
4. The dorm rooms here are small. There is no way that I would be able to live comfortably here. Plus the entire bathroom is the shower (there is not tub/stall). Weird.