Traveling to Korea During a Pandemic

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Moving abroad in and of itself takes an extensive amount of planning and preparation. Moving abroad during a pandemic adds a completely new dimension to the preparation that needs to be made before arrival. So for my first blog post, I’ll explain the unique aspects that came with traveling to South Korea during a pandemic.

To start, to depart from SFO, I had to present a negative Covid test at check-in, with the results being issued no further than 72 hours before my departure. Not only that, but the test had to have very specific requirements on it, like my full name, a doctor’s signature or stamp, the time that the test was taken, and when the results were issued. To ensure that my test had all the necessary requirements, I actually took several “practice” Covid tests leading up to my departure to find out which one would work best for what I needed. I can still remember the anxiety I felt when showing my test to the airline, but luckily everything worked out, and they accepted my test! I then took an 11-hour red-eye flight across the Pacific and arrived in Seoul, South Korea, at 3:30 am. I told myself I would document the entire process once I arrived, but lesson number one I learned with moving abroad is that sometimes it’s better to just be in the moment because of how fast-paced everything is. In other words, I totally forgot to take pictures of the arrival procedures because so much was happening at once. Once I arrived, I was ushered through 5-6 different stations by airport staff. I had to download two quarantine apps which I would use twice per day to record my temperature and any symptoms for the next two weeks while in quarantine. After making it through immigration and the different quarantine stations, I had to wait until 8 am for the quarantine shuttle that would take me to get the Covid test I needed for check-in at the dorms. Finally, after waiting five hours, I was on the 50-minute shuttle ride from Incheon to Seoul!

Once in Seoul, I got my Covid test done, which took several more hours as I had to wait for my peers who were also quarantining in the dorms to get theirs as well. Though I actually didn’t mind waiting as this was the perfect time to start making new friends! After arriving at 3:30 am, getting through the airport, and taking my Covid test, I was finally on my way to the dorms at 12 pm. Check-in went smooth as I presented the necessary quarantine documents given to me at the airport, and at exactly 12:42 pm, I made it to my room! Once the door shut, I wasn’t allowed to leave until the final Covid test that I took the day before I left quarantine, meaning I spent 14 nights and 15 days in my tiny room, but it was worth it! We are very much still in the middle of a pandemic, and these are the steps that need to be taken to prevent the further spread of Coronavirus. South Korea does an impeccable job of combating this virus by taking all of these precautions. Now that I am out of quarantine, I can’t wait to start exploring this new vast city that is my home!

*Arrival day Covid test with new peeps!