Thursday, July 5, 2012

Time and Travel (and Time Travel)

잘 도착했어요 (I've arrived safely), and now with Internet access, I'm learning -- slowly -- to type in Korean, the very few phrases that I know. I'll try to pepper my posts with them, along with translations, of course!

The time difference between Seoul and San Francisco is +16 hours. I also crossed the International Date Line as I flew across the Pacific. The result is that my body is jet-lagged and I'm not sure what time it really thinks it is, but I'll be going to sleep soon after a long Orientation day.

Speaking of time twisters, I managed to completely miss July 4th. Well, I spent the last few hours of July 3rd in SFO, lightly panicking because my first flight to LAX was delayed by two hours. By the time my travel buddy Tracey (another ETA who had the same itinerary) and I got off the 비행기 (plane) in LAX, we had only a little over an hour to get out of the terminal, take a bus to the international terminal, check in, go through security, and get to the gate for the plane that was leaving for Seoul. When we arrived at that gate, it was about midnight of July 4th, and I was so out of breath from the crazed airport dash that I didn't even notice. Then, when we flew across the IDL, it suddenly became tomorrow, and July 4th, 2012 went away without really happening.

This happened to be the case for almost all of the other Fulbright ETAs -- there were sixty-five of us alone on that same flight from LA to 인천 공항 (Incheon Airport)-- traveling last night. It's rather ironic that our departure for a year of cultural ambassadorship coincided with an unintended subversion of our national holiday.

The flight itself was nice -- I slept for most of it, watched a cute video teaching Koreans how to say basic greetings and phrases in English, and also watched most of Moneyball. Oh, and! I became friends with the guy sitting next to me on the plane, who was not a Fulbright ETA. He was soft-spoken but had a lot of interesting stories to tell about his life: he was in the Marines, worked as a diver and a fisher, and now does landscaping for rich peoples' big yards. He's been to tons of countries and likes to meet locals and learn their languages. So, although he was only stopping in Korea on his way to Vietnam with some members of his VFW, I took the opportunity to teach him the basics of the Korean hangeul alphabet (한글). I really like the rare occasion of actually talking with my neighbors on flights... in four years of flying back and forth between SFO and PHL, it's happened only a few times.

Time... Another time issue I have is with this blog: since I've switched my time zone to what will be the future for most of my readers back in the States, will it not show up on feeds until thirteen or sixteen hours have elapsed? You guys, I'm in the future! (This never ceases to amuse me, no matter how many times I've been to Asia.)

And in the future, everyone is tired, excited, nervous, and learning how to eat 김치 (kimchi) without crying. In the future, private universities are made of marble and have terrific swimming facilities (photos to come), I have no clothes hangers (yet), and it's raining and very, very humid. 아주 습해요! We'll see what else the future has to bring... but tonight I'm turning in early. 잘자 (Good night)!

P.S. If you speak/read Korean fluently, feel free to correct any spelling or grammatical mistakes I make!