How on earth did I end up in South Korea? Before going there, I knew NOTHING about this country, I had a vague idea of what it was, of his war, his people and his fight. A idea so vague it was almost non-existent. At the beginnings of february of 2011 I had to decide on a college to go for my exchange semester, I -like almost everybody- wanted to go to Europe. I wanted to live the magic of travel to another country by land in a ridiculous time, with friends. Because when I got the chance to go to Europe (before this recent one) I was a stupid girl of fourteen that didn’t understand anything and I couldn’t appreciate it the same way I would appreciate it now at my -almost- mid twenties (F***! Mid twenties!). And I wanted that, I wanted to walk in those streets cover by snow around buildings as old as beautiful, I wanted to live the famous Erasmus. I wanted France to practice my poor french, but there weren’t options to go there and everything was closing in front my eyes. So, I decided for Belgium, and again this option was not an option. I searched in a map and I crossed out the countries I didn’t want to go. No to countries where the language were spanish or english. Too easy, I thought. And, what did I have left? South Korea. When I saw that this was practically my only way out to something I wanted and what the university could give me, I asked myself. How is South Korea? Could it be? And it was. And the time I lived there and the people I met I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
In may I got the acceptance letter of Chung Ang University and that was the moment I realized it. I was going to Seoul. No, better… I was going to LIVE in Seoul. I waited for my departure for two months looking for my visa and stuff. I was excited. People asked me if I was afraid, I told them that I wasn’t, that I wanted to arrive.
And my route in order to get there was with many stop overs so I could save some pesos. I bought my plane ticket from Mexico City to Los Angeles, and then from Los Angeles to Seoul with a stop over in San Francisco. Anyway… I had travel by myself before, but only inside Mexico. So, I went with a small backpack, a suitcase, a travel backpack and a small purse on my shoulder with my documentation I took a plane from Mexico City to LA. It arrived around 1am and my other flight was leaving at six/seven am, so I had to spend the night at the airport. When I bought the tickets I thought: ” it’s six hours of waiting! Whatever!” Well, I regret the moment I stood outside the door and saw what it was waiting for me. I thought that everything was going to be in movement, and that would make the time go faster, but I was so wrong. It was dark and there were -almost- nothing open, and on top of that I had to look after all this suitcase I had so I wouldn’t lose it or something. I bought a hamburger at McDonald’s and I sat to eat alone and without taking my eyes off my bags. After, I decided to have some sleep. I made a circle with my stuff and lay back on the travel backpack, I tied that one with the suitcase, hold on to the small backpack. Paranoid? A little, maybe. Lying like that I tried to sleep, I -of course- couldn’t do so. I was cold, it was everything so dark and quiet that I felt a little scared. Now that I think about it, I know that that scared wasn’t just because I was alone in an airport with strange people sleeping beside me, it was the fact that in a few hours I was going to arrive to an unknown country and I was about to prove myself. And I was afraid. Afraid of not withstand. In that moment I didn’t know that five months after South Korea was going to be one of my best decisions of my life.
It was beginning to get light and I was at the waiting room, I just wanted to get in that place, arrived to San Francisco and this journey to end. Weird, I have always like the airports… but by then I just wanted to arrived. Another two more hours that I had to wait, I wanted to eat but I wasn’t hungry, I bought something just for boredom, and after, time to board, time to sleep. Twelve hours from San Francisco to Seoul. I didn’t suffer.
I brought a notebook where I was going to write everything. I just wrote three pages. Now I regret but this is what I wrote on that airport journey:
August 25, 2011
-I am writing from the airplane of Mexico-LA. The take off wasn’t nice because it was raining a bit. While it was moving slowly there were drops of rain dripping in the window and I felt nostalgic remembering my family. I still don’t feel I am going somewhere. I look down and I see lights from a city without name and I feel nothing, I still feel at home.
-I started reading “Sputnik, my love” of Murakami, so far I am liking it. The flight was delayed a bit, I was supposed to leave at 7.55pm but ended up leaving at 9pm. I will arrived early morning. Today I won’t sleep much.
-At these moment I am nearer to the stars and I am listening “Wish you were here” Bossa Nova cover.
-This is a mess! My -new- suitcase is broken and the airport is not like in the movies that everything is cool. No, here everything is close and There is no internet! My parents are going to kill me.
-I am alone, I am sleepy, it is cold. I have to wait five hours and thirty minutes for my other airplane to take off. I bought a burger at McDonald’s at seven dollars!! (damn!).
-It’s been three hours and a half. I have sleep just like fifteen minutes and I am starting to have a headache.
-I arrived to San Francisco. I got online and send an email to my parents. I had breakfast and bought my english-korean dictionary and my Guide of South Korea (that I didn’t find in Mexico). I had my breakfast at a restaurant in the airport. It was good, but expensive (seventeen dollars!!). I went to the bathroom and had a quick wash with wipes.
-I am reading the guide of South Korea. I still do not feel I am going there. I think that this is a dream and that I do not exist.