It's Tuesday, August 24th at 11:55 am. Five more minutes until most international students who arrived in Seoul to get to know the Korean culture and lifestyle can finally get out of their rooms and start their adventure. Everyone was writing in the group chats when the awaited time arrived. At noon, I could hear the door opening and the students' voices in the hall. It was finally time to explore this new continent, meet people, and discover unique places. Fourteen days of quarantine seem long, but watching movies and TV series, working out, calling friends and family, and planning the first days in Seoul, helped passing them pretty quickly. After paying for my quarantine meals in the dormitory restaurants, my two room neighbors and I decided to start walking around campus and get to know the school that will host us for the next four months.
Hour after hour, I started meeting new people and organizing things to do with them. To celebrate our first night out of quarantine, a few of my friends and I decided to hang out and get to know each other. During the next few days, I participated in a few events that CIEE organized for its students. I met a really nice Korean girl who showed to my now friend Connie and me around the area and had us try some Korean food. I had Bulgogi with rice, and of course, kimchi. It was such a fantastic way to get introduced to the culture!
Before the beginning of classes, I had six days or so to visit and meet people. Most students have been trying to get to know as many students as possible, so I realized I shouldn't worry about not making friends because of the covid restrictions. Besides, social media helps a lot, too, as there are many group chats on KakaoTalk (the most used app in Korea) where everyone organized meet-ups, even if in small groups. Thanks to it, I could reunite with a few people I met at the airport during the immigration process. It was nice to catch up and tell each other about our quarantine experience.
Even if six days is not a lot, I think I have already visited a lot of places, including Sinchon, Itaewon, Insadong, Dongdaemun, and three different libraries, but that's a story for another blog ;) I have learned more about Korean food and what I like: I am a fan of their sweet things such as coffee and everything you find in their cafe. Getting around with public transportation was new for me, but I could get to where I wanted to, so I would say it was a success. Understanding Korean people has been a challenge, but I am excited to take my Korean class to communicate more.
I cannot wait for what is coming. Considering the outcome of my first days, I can already tell how unique my experience will be. Quarantining for fourteen days was definitely worth it and helped me learn how to spend some time with myself. That is what getting out of my comfort zone and traveling also means. For now, I will just go to sleep early and get ready for my first classes tomorrow.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more adventures!
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