KOREA 2015 #1: ARRIVAL AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Monday, 26 October 2015



As I mentioned in my previous post, I was in Korea recently and I was there for a week. I did so much in that week and so I have decided to share my experience here. I shall be posting everyday this week so be sure to come back for Day 2 tomorrow!!

I  started off the day at 6am making my way to the train station to start the long journey of navigating the London train system to Heathrow. At this point I was all nerves and I still couldn't believe that the trip was happening. I couldn't sleep the night before and I kept having this fear that something will go wrong!

By 9:30 am I found myself at Heathrow terminal 5 and headed for check in and security which was uneventful. After that I had about 2 hours before my flight so I went to Giraffe for some pancakes which was awful BTW!! Found my boarding gate and I suppose that was when reality hit me. Most people around there were Korean and speaking Korean and secretly I was ecstatic by all of it.

Nerves were slowly fading as I boarded and did my usual routines before a flight!! It was a non-stop 11 hour flight and I slept for most of it. I was expecting to eat Korean food on the flight, but I later on realised to my disappointment that because it was a British Airways flight there was no Korean food served!! However sometime before the end of the flight, a waft of Ramyun smell hit me and I saw a few passengers indulging in cup Ramyeon.

I found it amusing thinking you can take the Korean out of Korea but you can't take the Korean out of them. Little did I know that the flight actually provides it upon request—Remember that you all!!

We arrived at about 7am Korean time and I made my way through security. And then it all hit me, I WAS IN KOREA!! Like it's all real. This is Incheon Airport, the place I've seen countless times on TV and I've daydreamed countless times about being in. All around me were this coffee shops and skincare shops that I've seen on TV and at this point I was looking at everything through rose-coloured glasses!!

I found my way to the meeting point, to meet the rest of my group so we could head to the hotel which meant it will be the first time I was expected to speak Korean. I was so nervous by that fact. But it was okay and I was the first person to arrive but then shortly afterwards 2 other girls CJ & A arrived as well and apparently we were on the same flight from London!!

We got on chatting for a few minutes and then we joined an earlier group to make our way into Seoul. On the bus we got introduced to more people from a few other countries and we all tried to figure out things like who was the Unni, Maknae etc. People were speaking in Korean all around me regardless of the fact that none of us were Koreans nor do we live in Korea. This all felt so surreal.

On the Bus into Seoul we kept passing these really nice rivers and I kept going "is this the Han River?" Obviously not but I was so excited to tick seeing it from my bucket list! The scenery was really nice on the way and there was a lot of traffic.

We finally arrived in Seoul and there was definitely a shriek of excitement from me, I was taking random pictures of buildings and signs and I felt this rush of overwhelming feeling just seeing places and names of things I've previously heard of or seen on TV.

Lobby of our Hotel, Banana Milk, A temple near our hotel.

We finally arrived at our Hotel and it looked really nice. We went through registration and then we were later on told that check in time was at 3pm so we had about 4 hours of free time자유 시간~ Free Time, this was our first introduction to this word that will later on become our favourite phrase.

At this point we didn't really know where to go that wasn't too far so we ended up at a 7 eleven were I bought 바나나맛 우유~Banana Milk that I've been wanting for ages. My favourite brand is the 빙그래 one as pictured below. is added to the word Banana to signify delicious, and I also got one of those Onigiri or as they call it in Korea 삼각김밥~Triangle Kimbap!

After this we checked in, met our roommates and ate lunch. My Roommate is from France and her Korean is way better than mine! Then we headed to the conference hall in the Hotel for the Opening ceremony. That was were I met the rest of the students. There was 150 of us separated into 4 groups. 사물놀이~Samulnori (BLUE) which is my team,
케이팝~Kpop(RED), 태권도~Taekwondo (GREEN) and 한국 무용~Korean Traditional dance (YELLOW) divided into the 부채춤~Traditional fan dance group and the 소고춤~Small drum Dance group




At first it was a bit awkward as we all introduced ourselves to our teammates, this was the first time I met people who knew little to no English and so my full on speaking ability was put to test!!. We had a few introductory/welcome speeches from important people, then we had a very prominent traditional singer sing a few songs including Arirang. He also performed with an accompanying traditional drummer as well as give us a brief lesson on it. Everything was being said in Korean BTW.

Later on, dinner was served as seen above. The steak was cooked to my taste and I enjoyed every bite of it. After dinner, a new MC was introduced and I instantly knew I liked him. He had this very positive vibe about him and within second he broke the initial awkwardness we all were feeling. We played a few games such as the Limbo,  a Korean game where you smack someone on the head, a footie game, danced to a few songs and then we called it a night. 

At this point everyone's jet lag had kicked in and we were all too excited to get some rest for the next day. I headed upstairs with my roommate and we prepared for the next day....

P.S: I apologize for the the few pics. I was too tired to take a lot of pictures from this day but I promise to make up for it tomorrow. 

P.P.S: If you've read up to here, then hello :) Be sure to comment below about your fave part from each day or which activity you wished you did as well. They'll be more to choose from tomorrow.

CLICK HERE FOR DAY 2
  
Search for me around the web by clicking the following links:
On KOREAN TWITTER disseminating real time views on dramas & music etc
On FACEBOOK sharing  interesting links
On INSTAGRAM sharing pictures 
and on TUMBLR just doing what people do on there

안녕,

meera



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