This morning was entirely different to any other morning of my life. Today was the day that I embark on the biggest and most ambitious adventure that I’ve ever been on. Today, I’m moving to South Korea.
In my last post ‘one week’s notice’ I discussed about handing my notice in at work. The mad rush and panic I had with my visa. I managed transfer flights. I booked onto a flight for the following Thursday. But my visa hadn’t yet arrived! As you can imagine, i was anxious just in case it didn’t come and I would have to transfer flights again. My visa arrived on the Tuesday. I finished packing all of my things and it was all underweight. I guess that cheap handheld luggage weight reader worked better than I had expected.
Let me back up a little bit. My day started at 4:45am (UK time) I got up, rushed downstairs to double check the size limits and weight for my hand luggage. I had to, you know when you have one of those nightmares that you’ve done everything wrong that you thought you had done right? Yeah well it was one of those. I had already spent the last three days obsessively weighing the luggage. I knew in my head it was right but the nightmare contradicted my thoughts. I had to check and it turns out everything was fine.
I kept checking around the house just to avoid the inevitable. Its the final goodbyes that I don’t like. They’re so difficult. Thoughts rushed around in my head as I was hugging my mum goodbye. When will I next see her, face to face I mean? This is the last night I’m going to see this dining room for at least a year. Right now a year seems so far away and it both scares and excites me. I’m excited for the new experience. Its going to be so interesting. I’m going to return to England as a much more rounded and well travelled individual. But saying goodbye to my family is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do.
Thanks to my dad we made it to the Heathrow airport near London with plenty of time. So early in fact the check in desks for my flight hadn’t even opened. After checking in we all went and stood outside secruity. After procrastinating about going through security I could feel my anxiety building as I kept avoiding going. I had to go for it. I said my goodbyes to my dad and my sister. I took deep breaths, and remembered how much I wanted to be in Korea.
I got through security and into where the gates are. I couldn’t work out which gate I was supposed to be at so I asked a lady who worked at the airport. She said that I was really early. She suggested that I went and got something to eat and drink and check the boards again in about 20 mins. Just as she said, the gate number was up so I went and took a seat. The plane was 15 minutes delayed. But somehow we arrived to Moscow at the correct arrival time. I’m not sure how that works…
Getting on the plane at Heathrow was easy enough. I sat next to a lovely Russian lady. I presumed she was lovely. She didn’t say much but she smiled politely when took the seat next to her. Everyone has something that they’ve done or said. Here’s mine, on my fight between Heathrow and Moscow around half an hour after takeoff I thought that they had taken the seatbelt sign off. But they hadn’t. I did wonder why the stewardess looked at me a bit odd. That and I nearly knocked myself out with my own bag. Can you believe that? I was incredibly embarrassed I can tell you that much. Especially as around 10 mins later the seat belt went off. Its safe to say that I hid away for while. Everyone makes mistakes. Its certainly one I wouldn’t want to relive anytime soon.
After a hectic run through Moscow airport with a bag i’ve now added to my priority list for replacing. Either that or next time I fly I need to pack less stuff! It was not a good experience. Now for the worst part, the reasoning for this mad rush through the airport. Originally I wasn’t in a rush. I had plenty of time, but then I went on a hunt for free WiFi to let my parents know that I had arrived okay. Which resulted in me very nearly missing my connection flight. Nice one Hannah! I was the second to last person to get on the flight. I only just made it!
On the way to Incheon International Airport, I was desperately fighting the urge to sleep but I knew even once I landed in Incheon I still had quite a bit of travelling to do. I slept for around 2-3 hours, I then felt much more alert to get through the day. Just before I got off the plane I had to fill in forms for the immigration office.
Once I had got off the plane it was like a mad rush to run off, down three sets of escalators and then to get on a tube where I felt like a sardine. I got off the tube then it was time to stand in a massive queue to go through immigration. I’ll give them that, their security is intense and very thorough.
After immigration I went down another escalator to collect my baggage. I was only waiting around 10 minutes before I went to go on a hunt to find a payphone to ring the director of the school to let her know that I’ve arrived. After that i went to get my first bus to Gangnam Bus Terminal.
It’s quite daunting being in a country you don’t know. When asking for directions from every person I asked, I was putting my 100% faith in their hands and you know what was nice? Most of them were extremely helpful. Even the one guy who helped me carry my suitcase to Gangnam Express Bus Terminal from Gangnam Bus Terminal (there is a difference between the two, but at first I thought they were the same thing) he spoke little English, luckily I could fill in the blanks with the Korean that I did know.
I’m certainly looking forward to exploring Korea.