Well, I’m here.
The first 48 hours have been wild. Just coming out of Incheon Airport was overwhelming after a 13-hour flight. I will say this, the Koreans have public transportation down to a T. Getting an airport limousine ticket (think peter pan bus, but a lot better and a lot more efficient) and arriving at your location is incredibly easy, even someone with not a lot of common sense can do it. Of course, this is something sometimes I lack and well, I missed my bus stop. The poor bus driver freaked out and then decided to leave me in Itaewon, a neighborhood in Seoul known for foreigners, and told me to take a taxi. I hailed one (my first time ever hailing a taxi), tried to communicate, did not communicate effectively, the taxi drove away. Frantic, I see a white person who I just assumed spoke English, she did, and was able to eventually find my way to the place where I am staying. What should have been an hour to arrive at my destination, turned into a four-hour fiasco.
The first full day here, I decided to walk down the street to get to know my neighborhood. I casually happen to see a really large building (an understatement of the century) and decide it would be fun to spend 30 minutes exploring. I stayed there for four hours. Little did I know what I was walking into… “I’Park Mall is an impressive shopping center in terms of size. It’s 1.6 times as large as the 63 Building (the tallest building in Seoul) and 2.3 times as large as COEX Mall. The mall houses over 3,600 shops, located from the third basement level to the mall’s ninth floor. The shopping center has almost everything: home products, discounted clothing, restaurants, the CGV IMAX 11, and more!” It was wild and it was a good thing that I had left most of my money back home. It was over 9 floors and it was just… one of the most magnificent things I have ever seen. The rest of the day I spent in my apartment settling in and buying groceries from Emart. Emart… that was also an overwhelming experience, but this is something will right about in another post.
The next day, I mainly stayed in my apartment because I still have finals I need to finish. I got a really nasty stomach virus that I ended up in the ER room (Thank you, Rachel, for taking me!). Long story short, I have a lot of papers I have to write. I was able to go on a great food tour with the man Seoul eats with a lovely group of travelers. Ate really good food and had really great conversation. 10/10 would recommend.
Overall, the first 48 hours have been… overwhelming. I feel like this is going to be my word to describe this trip at large. Really… overwhelming, but amazing. I cannot believe that I am here, in South Korea, doing research, by myself. I have a lot of thoughts and opinions about everything has happened at and between these events, but this is all I have to write for now.