After a good 22 hours total of travel, I finally walked out of the plane and was immediately greeted by a huge billboard. It was an advertisement for Plastic Surgery. The Koreans who walked near me were all trying not to laugh or be embarrassed over the fact that this is the first impression all new arrivals would get of their country.
While the Plastic Surgery business is huge in Seoul, and travelers come from all over Asia to have enhancement done, I still find it a peculiar choice for South Korea to showcase in their airport, as the one of first thing travelers from abroad see when they arrive.
I imagine it figures in many stories told about "Our trip to Korea", and if I did not arrive with the context on South Korea that I do, it may have tainted my view of the country too. When I think of South Korea, the first thing I think about is neither Plastic Surgery nor K-pop, so I find it interesting that South Korea chooses to market itself this way, when there are many other beautiful things and wonders for them to advertise.
It took me until standing in line for the second plane, the one that would take me from Paris to Seoul, my final destination, to realise that it was really happening. There were many Koreans but also surprising amount of non Koreans.
Upon arrival I set out on a mission to find a special Sim Card I could buy without having a Korean citizen number. I found the designated place, but the internet had misguided me. They had stopped selling Sim Cards like that, and all they had was a sim card that would work for one month but not a day longer, so I left empty handed.
I headed out of the airport and bought tickets to Ewha Woman's University, specifying that I wanted to arrive at the back gate, and not the main entrance. Everything went smoothly.
It wasn't as cold as I had been warned that it would be. I was fine with a simple coat, even waiting in line in the shade.
The small bus ride took me along the seaside at Incheon, and into the country and finally through Seoul. It reminded me exactly how beautiful Korea can be.
It was a fresh hike up the hills and mountains that the university is built on, but I soon found the dormitories, and was drenched in sweat by the time I entered building D (I must admit that I felt very cheated by the lack of cold - the only side of it being cold was frost on the shadowed side of the mountain).
Yet, the adventure was not yet finished. After the hike, and finding the right building came the ever difficult search for the office that would provide me with the key card and code for my room. I had teamed up with a German and her mother who had both just arrived, and together we found the office and got checked in.
I set off again with my huge suitcase, thinking that was that, I went up to the tenth floor, whipped my key card with the door code out and typed in the numbers. Nothing. My door was telling me that the code was wrong.
I tried again.
I definitely had the right door. And I definitely had the wrong code. I glanced at my suitcase, and decided that South Korea is a safe country, so I left it there and went back to the office.
The clerk who went back up to the tenth floor with me confirmed my thoughts: my roommate must have changed the code and not told the office about it. They changed it back so that I could get inside.
At least the view is pretty nice from the balcony.
Thought of the day: my roommate is a hoarder.
There are things stuffed into every corner of this room. There were suitcases right inside the small hallway. Her desk was full of things and her bed had a bundle with things on it too. Things on the refrigerator, besides the refrigerator, and let's not mention the state of the actual refrigerator.
Let's just say that my first impression of my new roommate were not great as I began to unpack on my side. She must have lived here for many months, and still I thought, she had gathered an impressive amount of things.
But as expected, the bathroom had no toilet paper. Yes, thankfully this was expected and I had specifically bought tissues to take with me for this purpose.
Then came the less prepared realisation that there would be no internet available for me until classes started, so for an entire week. Not a good realisation. Especially not after staying awake for 36 hours. All I really wanted was to put on the heat and fall asleep to some Netflix. I was tired.
Right as I decided that was exactly what I would do, I heard someone enter the code on the door lock, and fail to get inside. My roommate, I thought. I went to open the door.
The sweet girl standing outside was not my roommate. But she did appear to be a friend of my roommate and revealed that some of the luggage in my room's hallway was hers and she had come to collect it, so I let her inside.
She came back three times, and I thought she would take away all of the hallway clutter. She did not. My roommate is still a hoarder. But I did gain more information and now I know not to wait for her to arrive.
She is Chinese and at the moment she is back in China between semesters. She will be here before Monday when classes start.
I only went out briefly to get some convenience store food and a bottle of water. I was too tired for anything much and to deal with having to go to a restaurant and order, besides last time I was in South Korea, I remember the really weird and awkward stares that followed people who ate alone, and I was not in the mood for them, so I grabbed something quick and called it a day, ready for a full 10 hours of sleep to be prepared for both a written and oral exam tomorrow.
Summary of my day
I currently have no internet on my computer, even writing and uploading this is proving a challenge (hence why this blog is one day late).
The unresolved roommate situation.
Toilet paper. I miss Toilet paper.
Korea is as beautiful as I remember it. Even in early winter.
I hear Korean everywhere and it's lovely.
It's nowhere near as cold as I was told it would be (at least not yet).
Floor heating is amazing.
Tomorrow I'll be well rested and ready to make friends.