Part of saying “yes”, to study abroad means you are agreeing to the terms and conditions of your host country. South Korea has extremely strict Covid-19 guidelines. Stepping off the plane, I was thrusted into an onslaught of health and security checkpoints. They had cameras at every stop reading the temperature of new arrivals. After what felt like eons had passed, I had made it to baggage claim. This is the part of the story where I realized I may have packed too much. I fumbled to collect my behemoth checked bags off the belt. I was hurt that they’d tagged it in a bright red font reading- HEAVY. Like okay, how about you try packing your life into two suitcases for the next 6 months.
Our plane landed in Korea at around 6pm Korean Standard Time. I did not catch a taxi to my dorm until 11pm. Yes, about 5 hours spent meandering around the airport. From going to my first Korean convenience store to frantically trying to get my Korean phone number situated. Things take time and on that day an extra level of understanding was needed. When the airport officials notified us that our taxi had arrived, the once bustling terminal was now a ghost town.Actually, stepping out of the airport felt surreal, like I’m really in another country. A chilling gust of wind reminded me that even if I’m not in Syracuse, winter is in full affect in different parts of the world. We arrived at the dorm and before I knew it I was in my new home.
As of this moment, I’m 5 days into my quarantine and have another covid test scheduled shortly. Quarantine officially ends for me on Sunday 2/20/22. Having been restricted to my room these last couple days reminded me of the privileges we sometimes take for granted. The ability to go for a walk or just interact with other people. While I’m extremely excited to venture out and interact with society, these days isolated in my room have been extremely necessary because adjusting to the time difference has not been the easiest. Quarantine may be the only time during my whole study abroad experience that I feel the most comfortable. Confined to my heated wood floors, slightly faded white walls and fluorescent lighting, a part of myself will miss the controlled environment that was my quarantine space. Alas, we did not journey thousands of miles away from home to stay in a room. Outside world, here I come.