Quarantine & Initial Cultural Adjustment

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During my two-week quarantine in South Korea, I stayed in SK Global House. SK Global House is one of the international dorms Yonsei University has to offer exchange students. Yonsei made the whole moving process relatively easy since after I arrived in South Korea and got tested they would check me in like when you check-in for normal university dorms. All of my basic needs were met and they had someone on call 24/7 in case students quarantining needed anything. The main restriction was that I was not allowed to leave the room for two weeks in quarantine unless given permission to leave. I had an app downloaded to my phone that would check my location and make me log if I had any symptoms and my temperature. The only time in which I left the room was to get tested before I left my two-week quarantine to make sure I did not give the disease time to incubate.

I actually enjoyed quarantine a lot! At Yonsei we had like 7 different restaurants we could order food from with different cuisines and price points, I looked forward to mealtimes every day. In general, I am an introvert, so I did not miss human interaction at all. Other than that I spent my free time reading or watching YouTube. Overall, I was having a good time in quarantine even though I was isolated from others. My family had to quarantine in May of last year so it also might be that it was not a novel experience for me already.

I feel like quarantining did allow for me to come to terms that I was in a new country, but due to the international aspect of the quarantine situation, the reality of what it was really going to be like outside did not dawn on me. Everything was easily accessible in English. I know other people from non-English majority speaking countries could have found the situation strange, but for me, it was like being stuck in a hotel with really delicious food delivered at intervals.

One thing that helped me come to terms with that I was in a completely different country was the “trash”. In the United States, we do not recycle and divide our trash, so being told to do that here was a new experience. Trash was supposed to be divided into three bags, waste (non-recyclable trash), food waste, and recyclables. At first, it was weird because I either had to put the food waste on my balcony or in my fridge but seeing my wasted food made me more aware of the food wasted every meal. I do not know if quarantining would have made a huge difference to my experience if I had not done it, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it did not hurt my experience.

First Picture is an average quarantine meal

Second Picture is the view from the quarantine room