After a virtual year as a Young Adult Volunteer with Presbyterian Missions, I’m so psyched to begin my YAV year in South Korea! I woke up at 3:45 in the morning; mom made sausage & eggs for breakfast (which was very kind and smart, because I didn’t eat again until 11 am); my entire family accompanied me to the Philadelphia International Airport. We arrived at 4:50 to a crowded airport & an understaffed United counter. After finally checking my bags, I said a sad and happy farewell to my mom, dad, and sister and then headed through security.
My flight to San Francisco was on time and departed at 6:50 am. I received pretzels and a drink and lots of turbulence; I was very nauseous for the entire flight. I arrived in San Francisco at 10:09 in Gate F and sprinted to the international Gate G, to meet Kate Underwood, my fellow YAV you can follow her blog at https://katesletterhome.wordpress.com/. I was confused because Gate G has two levels, and I had no idea where to find Kate. Thank goodness for cell phones – we found each other. Then we went to the front desk to show our COVID negative tests and get our tickets approved. Then we signed a paper consenting to the mandatory 15-day quarantine and confirming that we had a place to stay. Then we had our temperature checked and boarded the plane to Seoul. Once in the air, we were served a meal right away, which was great because I was famished since I didn’t have time to purchase food in the airport before boarding. After our meal, the flight attendant handed out customs and immigration documents, quarantine housing paperwork, and a health and wellness forms to be completed. Thankfully, my sister downloaded all these forms and helped me answer all the questions before I left home. After completing all the paperwork, I put it into my folder for safe-keeping. Then I fell asleep for about 6 hours and woke up in time for more food. To pass the time on the 12-hour flight, I watched a movie, crocheted, and took a nap. The next thing I knew, we were landing in Korea.
In the Seoul Airport, Kate & I went through 5 COVID stations: 1. Download the mandatory self-quarantine app on our phone (this gps app tracks every person entering quarantine -if anyone breaks the mandatory 14-day quarantine, they are fined or arrested), 2. Show COVID negative paperwork, 3. Temperature check and get a sticker on our passport, 4. Confirm that quarantine app was downloaded onto phone correctly, and 5. Provide proof of quarantine address and a phone number. We gave the Korean YAV coordinator, Hyeyoung’s, phone number the official called her to confirm our lodging. Next, we went to immigration to show our visa paperwork, then to baggage claim, and on to customs. Finally, we needed proof that we would be picked up by a taxi and we were ushered to the taxi stand after we went to the bus stop accidentally. Luckily, we the taxi driver, who Hyeyoung sent, found us. Then Kate and I relaxed in the cab for the hour and 20 minute trip to the quarantine hotel. Finally, we arrived at the hotel around 6:00 pm on August 29, 2021. I was exhausted but willing to stay awake for a few hours to adjust to Korean time.