[The Traveling Teacher] In Transit

My "Roll With It" Idea...
Goodness, getting from the Philadelphia Airport to my apartment in Namwon was a little bit crazy to say the least. I think if I didn't drill myself with, "Just roll with it," before leaving, I'd be one worked up mess. While getting abandoned by my driver in Madrid without any form of communication was a little traumatizing, it was so bad, I think every other new country experience I have will seem like a cake walk in comparison.

Alright, so actually physically getting yourself from your hometown to Namwon deserves a whole post in itself. You've gone through the headache of paperwork. You've gotten your contract, your passport, your visa, and any other necessary confirmations. You've booked your flight one way or another, and your bags have been packed four times. You're waking up at 2 a.m. from a quick nap because it's finally time. Months of preparations, changes, and a thousand goodbyes or see you for nows have happened. You're getting your behind over to the Land of the Morning Calm (or insert nickname for your respect country here). What happens?

Well, I can't really speak for everyone, but here is the following account of my story. There are no times associated with anything because I just lost track between the trillion time changes I went through.

FIRST: Get to Philadelphia Airport. My mom and dad drive me the hourish drive from Pottstown at the crack of dawn (no, really, the middle of the night) for my early flight.

SECOND: Go through check-in. Figure out in sleepy state how to use the self-check in counter. Get told my passport is invalid by a very condescending employee who, instead of telling me I need to sign it, asks me what my envelope said. Listen, lady, I don't fucking remember because I renewed my passport over a year and a half ago, I was too busy being upset about my Shanghai internship cancellation, and it's currently my bed time. I also assure them that, yes, my suitcase is going to be overweight, and I'll just pay the $60. No, I don't want to try and move clothes. Yes, I've tried everything.

THIRD: It's too early for the TSA area to be open. Why schedule flights this early if you're not even going to have shit open? I say goodbye to my parents. Knowing that I have plenty of time until my departure, I opt to hang out sitting instead of waiting in line. I listen to music and read and slightly regret my choice of pants. Did I gain weight in a few days because these fit tighter than I remember.

FOUR: Get through security sans problems. Set up shop in the corner of my terminal so I can prop my feet up on the wall. Question if I can put my feet up on the wall, so I wait until another girl does it. Have to pee because of jeans. Don't want to carry backpack and tote to bathroom, so I stuff my backpack underneath seats. Come back and it's still there, however now I have company. As we wait, the airport employees ask if anyone wants to give up their flight.... for a $300 voucher. When it gets closer, they up it to $400. Seriously, American Airlines? People aren't stupid. Should just start with $400. Consider it, but know it's impossible. Eventually board flight. Get sweet spot by window in exit aisle.

FIVE: Howdy, Texas. After sleeping the three hour flight to Dallas, wake up having to pee. Realize there's not much time to find terminal. Ask where the flight to Incheon is, get a terminal letter and number. Forget number and realize that there's two possible places to get off on Skyline train. Crap. Guess and guess right. Pee again while waiting a quick wait to board my American Airlines flight to Incheon. Huzzah! Once boarded, I know at least I've successfully left the U.S.

SIX: Holy shit these seats suck. American Airlines kind of sucks. I wish I had booked my own flight to Incheon. Could have used Asiana, aka the best. AA has five seats in a row in the middle. Five. What the hell is that nonsense? I'm stuck in the middle but not the exact middle. My neighbors are nice, but it's not very comfortable. Check out the movies. All awful. Best option is 22 Jump Street. Already saw that. Everything else is old. Also, can't just watch. Need to either jump into a showing or wait for the next one. Are we in the 21st century anymore?

SEVEN: This is a lonnngggg, hot flight. Can't even figure out how to get my fan on me. Do I have a fan? Unbutton my jeans under my blanket, stomach expands like a pregnant lady. Sweet freedom. Food has been okay so far. Feel bad for the vegetarian next to me. They didn't have options for him?!

EIGHT: After a terrible flight of reruns, listening to my iPhone, and watching saved episodes of "Pan Am" on my iPad, I have landed in Incheon. It's the middle of the day. There's free Wi-Fi, so I check in with my family. I also go to the bathroom and completely change shirts because I feel so icky. Brush teeth,brush hair, pee again.

NINE: Find a place that sells juice. Drink juice and realize skin is still in it. Pretty gross. Then I find my bus terminal and, instead of trying to speak, I point to the message I saved on my iPad. Thankfully board bus headed to Jeonju. Originally get a spot with a foot rest but moved to a double seat without one. See an ajumma with her shoes off, take my boots off. Sweet freedom.

TEN: Take a video to post on Instagram once I get service. Practice a little Korean at rest stop when I get some spicy chicken on a stick. No water in sight. My mouth cools eventually. No trash can, clean stick, put in bag. Sleep a little on the bus until it makes its first stop. Panic a little. It's only been two hours. Is this my stop? Thankfully I see the sign as we pull away. It's not.

ELEVEN: Finally arrive in Jeonju. Drag my suitcases from the bus to the taxi platform. Get ignored three times as other steal taxis. Too tired to even be mad. Plus the roll with it philosophy. Whateva. I finally get a driver and show him the text on my iPad. He calls the number to find the Jeonju Guesthouse. Almost breaks his back getting my one suitcase into the backseat. It's 60 pounds! It's not that heavy!

TWELVE: Drops me off at the guesthouse and the owner comes out to greet us. Then he. drives. off. with. my. heavy. suitcase. Oh hells no. I run off, but the owner stops me to call the driver. She says he says it'll cost me. Seriously? Your fault, dude. But, whateva. Roll with it. I pay the 3,000 won, consider it payment for him struggling with the bag, and have the owner check me in and show me my room.

THIRTEEN: I eat one of my snack bars for dinner, attempt to get wi-fi, and examine my shower situation. At least it's a room set off. No towels, and towels will cost money. I use the hairdryer to dry myself off--skin included. I then use the main room wi-fi to check in. I also check to make sure I meet at 8:30 am and not 9:00 am. I'm pretty much exhausted, so I go back and crash.

FOURTEEN: Wake-up. Pack back up and get ready to be driven over to the Jeonju POE by another taxi driver. Meet my coordinator. Meet my main co-teacher. Give her my present. Get medical check-up. Must pee in a cup. Actually don't really have to pee... Get blood taken. Bleed a lot. I always bleed a lot when needles poke me... Must get x-rays with cute Korean doctors. Awkward to say the least.

FIFTEEN: My co-teacher buys me some bread. She's so cute! She asks me why I chose Namwon. I ask her what Namwon is. AH it's my home. Apparently I will not be teaching in Jeonju but in Namwon. Namwon is an hour from Jeonju. And I'll be teaching elementary students. Yes, I did not know any of this until a few hours ago. Roll. With. It.

SIXTEEN: We arrive at the Namwon POE after an hour of English/Korean conversation. My co-teacher must leave, so she leaves me with a guy who is to drive me to my apartment. I keep getting told someone else will explain everything to me. We have a short, broken conversation in Korean. I mean broken.
We arrive at my apartment villa by a road under construction. He shows me my apartment. I crack a window. I. am. here.

And that, kids, is the story of how my move to Korea went. I'll show you my apartment when it's finished. I learned I can paint the walls. Goodbye ugly wallpaper that is also difficult to remove.

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