Previously on Jacqueline in a State of Anxiety: “Get me out of this room.” *hours on hours of phone calls back home* “To the Charm Hotel we go, freedom here we come.” *meeting with friends* “Daiso is intense.” “Manny!!!” “Why didn’t you tell me I couldn’t get a third PCR before I froze???”
Sitting in a hotel room with Manny ready to take on the next few days before move in. Everything from now on will be smooth sailing…
HA… HAHAHA… yeah right
Well peeps, we have returned with another episode. I have good news though. I’m still alive… that’s not all, I just felt it was a good start. In all seriousness, everything here in Korea has gotten better. I’m slowly adjusting and getting used to everything, but that’s not to say I wasn’t going through it the week following my last update. Let’s start where we left off shall we?
After failing to get a third PCR test and freezing, Manny and I had planned to go get a Rapid Antigen Test along with his Vaccination Pass. The following morning we got up early, and made our way to the Seodaemun Health Center where we were going to wait in line to get his pass; then quickly receive our rapids. We figured by arriving early we would be among the first there. In and out. We were wrong… Very. Wrong. When we arrived at the health center we received Manny’s wait number. Any guesses… anyone? 79… Manny was number seventy-nine!!! WE ARRIVED BEFORE OPENING!!! This lead to us standing in line, in the cold for just under three hours. Figuring it would take some time for his paper work to be processed, I told Manny as he was entering the building, that I would be waiting for him at a coffee shop across the street in order to warm up – I quite literally thought I was going to loose a foot (and I was wearing UGGS!!!). When I say he met me in the coffee shop in under 10 minutes and I had yet to regain feeling in my fingers even though I was gripping a tea cup like my life depended on it, I mean it. For once, this is not an effect of my inability to process time, this is quite literal. I was outraged. We arrive at health center before 9 and he met me in the coffee shop right before 12, after I waved him goodbye at 11:50. This also meant that they were now on their lunch break and we would have to wait until 1:30 to receive our rapid tests. At this point I wasn’t complaining because I refused to leave that cafe until I could feel my feet again. Fast forward some time, and we were able to receive our rapids after 30 minutes. We were back at the hotel by 2:30, and we rested for the rest of the afternoon, eating fried chicken that night.
Now for the most important part… We finally get to move in!!! I extended our stay at the hotel for another day just so we didn’t have to rush in moving our bags to the dorms after check in the morning. To make it short, we were among the first 10 people to arrive for check-in. Going to our rooms we dropped off our backpacks and made our way back to the hotel to retrieve our carry-ons and walk those back. Grabbed lunch on our second trip back to the hotel, and finally, we each loaded our two big bags into separate cabs to drop us off at the dorm. After this we didn’t see each other again that night, as we arrived at separate times and began to unpack.
Here is where it once again becomes traumatic for me and only me… shocker… I would like to open with the fact that I began trying to get settled and moved in around 1PM and did not finish getting unpacked until 1AM. I was alone for a good while before my roommate arrived, and had only unpacked half way when she arrived around three. As I was trying to decide where to place things I heard the key pad on our front door beeping. Knowing the situation that was occurring well, as I had experience the same thing that morning, I walked to open the door for her. (In our defense, no one explained how to work the doors during orientation.) Turning the door knob and revealing myself at the door, I received a short scream. She didn’t expect me to be there. Laughing at our situation, I explained the key pad to her, and we formed a quick bond. From that point on we talked and joked about everything – except the things normal roommates would talk about on their first meeting, as we realized in the coming days – until she went out with friends she had met in quarantine, leaving me once again to my own devices. (Because it is worth mentioning she had basically moved in in under 1 hour, while I had yet to finish another suitcase.) This led to my own personal spiral as I was now alone again, and Manny had already met some people and gone out for the night(in his defense he did invite me). I became anxious about the fact that I did not have “essentials,” aka a pillow, blankets, hangers – basically anything that meant I could not sleep properly or have all of my things put away by the end of the night. So, I planned to make a trip to Diaso and E-Mart – both recommended to me by my favorite person ever back home when I called her from 1-2AM CST while I was freaking out and she was studying (Love you Littlebit <3). But before I tried to make it to Sinchon on my own in order to go there, I ran down to the Housing Office because I heard they were renting blankets. When I arrived, I also saw they were giving out pillows for free. I grabbed both, paying the 3,000 won, just to make sure I had each item, even though I planned on looking for both at the store. This brought some peace of mind. After paying for a taxi to go somewhere I could walk to in less time, which I found out later that night, I arrived at E-Mart. Let’s end that part of the story at it was traumatic to say the least. That store still stresses me out…anyway. I then walked to Daiso, grabbed the remaining things I needed, and grabbed a cab back home.
Having basically everything at this point, I felt much better. Later that night I met Seth and went for a walk, on which he showed me how to walk to Sinchon… in under three minutes. Now all that’s left of my traumatic story is that there have been never ending pieces of paper work I have had to submit – anything from ARC documents to setting up a Korean bank account. (Fast forward to current time Jacqueline, all of this is now done and all that’s left to do is wait!!!) The only other scary/stressful thing that happened was signing up for classes. Manny, Hayley – my roommate – and I got up early to meet and get ready to register. I had four options for classes and only needed three. Luckily I got into three with little to no problem except that I was in Syntax instead of Korean Language and Culture, and I REALLY didn’t want to take Syntax, especially because it would make me have class on Friday. Fast forward a few days to the add/drop period… The night before it started I noticed they added more seats to the class I did want, so right in the middle of my Korean class on the first day – sorry professor – I made sure I added Language and Culture to my schedule. I am now in all the classes I wanted to be in from the start, and so far they aren’t too bad!!! I’m taking Korean 2, Practical Korean 2, and Korean Language and Culture, and only have classes Monday through Thursday. So far my only complaint is that both of my Korean language courses are just under THREE HOURS long, and I have Korean 2 everyday at 8AM.
Now for the introductions… Say hello to the besties:
- Hayley – My roommate. From Indiana. We get along like peas and carrots. An honest to god, instant connection. Our humor fits well, we are both only children, and do not care if we play everything out loud even when the other is doing the same. I couldn’t have gotten luckier.
- Alisa – AKA our child – literally she’s only 18… and a senior in college. From California. “You look like you’re from LA…” An actual genius, majoring in biochemistry. She is super sweet, often rather clumsy, and completely lost in the pop-culture world. Should start a food account with the number of pictures she takes.
- Tram. – The sweetest girl. From Illinois. I met her through Manny. She’s super extroverted and fun to hang out with. Giving Asian baddie 85% of the time. The reason we all go out of our comfort zone.
- Michelle – My “let’s be touristy” buddy. From Texas. Met Manny and Tram on the side of the street – just walked up and said hi. She was then also introduced to me the same day I met Tram. Why is everyone so extroverted??? Super sweet as well, an actual bundle of energy, and super chill. Reminds me a lot of one of my best friends back home.
Some fun things that have happened:
Manny, Tram, Michelle, and I were going out one night to party in Hongdae, but we had yet to take the subway. Standing there confused, I saw a girl who was most definitely American and told the extroverts to go ask her for help. She turned out to be super nice and going to the same place as us with her friend who was on the way. She offered to take us on the subway and explain everything to us, so we asked her and her friend to join us. The cool thing was that they both turned out to be linguistic majors who were also studying Korean just like me! We had a great time, and we are all still in touch! Their names are Lily and Sam.
Another day I went to the COEX Mall, aka one of the coolest malls in Korea that has a huge library in the center of it, with Hayley, Alisa, and another friend of ours named Emma. We walked around, bought some clothes, and got boba. It was super cool, but I was tired by the time we finally arrived home.
Another weekend Michelle invited me to go to the National Museum of Korea, like I said she is my “let’s be touristy” buddy. We spent hours walking around exhibits, and still didn’t get to finish the whole thing. This museum is huge! Afterwards our group went to a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant and had one of the best meals I’ve had since I arrived.
Public Service Announcement: Don’t go to Outback Steak House in Korea… that is all I will say.
I went to my first set of cup events!!!! These are events held at small coffee shops by Kpop fansites on member’s birthdays, where you go order coffee and receive cool cups, photocards, stickers, and sometimes even posters. We went because Hayley wanted to go to the Suga, a member of BTS, cup events that were scattered around the city. I personally am not a huge BTS fan, but I do enjoy their music and know almost all about them so I tagged along. The best part for me though, was the Taeyeon cup event that happened to be held next door to the first cafe we arrived at!!! So I got to go there and get cool things from there. It was like my reward for having to go look at boy group stuff all day. :))))
The day to day… Most days you will catch me in class, in or around a cafe, or at Daiso or Artbox – I’m not joking Hayley, Alisa, and I go to Daiso and/or Artbox quite literally everyday. It’s been taking me a while to get used to living in a big city. Often times it is overwhelming and I miss driving SO much. The weather here has been extremely cold and I hate it. Random statement, but I am tired of wearing a puffer jacket. I am also slowly becoming a tote bag girly, and I hate myself for it everyday – my argument ‘it is simply more convenient here.’ The past few days the weather has been super nice, in the 60˚s. We have all been loving it. Sadly, both Manny and Tram got COVID, but just got out of quarantine – thank god!!! I missed them! Though because I had been in contact with Manny I have had to get regular testing, though on an irregular time schedule because every day I’m supposed to get the test it is a holiday or the weekend. So far, so good *knock on wood.* I have to get one more test on Monday, then I’m clear until the next scare. I’m meeting friends from my classes and enjoying school as much as one can. My Korean Language and Culture class is currently my favorite. Is this because it’s actually taught in English, because I’ve taken basically the exact same course before at home, or because it is kind of a mindless class for me? The world may never know… Another part of my day to day life is convenient stores, I will find a reason to go everyday (rankings can be found at the end).
To go on a mini rant. Currently in Korea they are selling special Pokemon Bread that comes with collectable stickers, and it is almost impossible to get your hands on. So far I have found one at the CU, the only convenience stores that are apart of this promotion, next to the I-HOUSE dorms. The cake itself wasn’t great, but I got a Vulpix sticker and thats all that matters. I am going to make it my mission to get more!!! Some of these stickers are selling for almost 400,000 won. Thats like $300…. for a sticker!!! How did I actually find one after much of my own searching you ask… Well, I’ll tell you anyway. The girl I met on my second PCR test trip during quarantine posted twice that she had found it on her instagram story, so I messaged her and asked where, which lead me to finding the only one I have seen in person after looking almost everyday for just over a week.
Back to the point of this paragraph… Basically, I’m kind of chilling out now. As I expected, once school started back again, providing me with a routine and all of the stressful paperwork has been finished, I am back to my normal self. Mostly… I still have my moments of feeling overwhelmed. But I am finding ways to cope. I get to eat good food everyday and hang out with my new friends, all of whom I feel like I have known forever. I get to see and experience new things, learning about Korean culture and history, while also learning the language. On top of this all I am still staying in close contact with all my friends back home, making frequent phone calls and video messages.
So see, this episode did in fact take a turn for the better. Finally! I also told myself I would make this one shorter, and I believe I have accomplished this feat. In the words of London Tipton, “Yay me *claps*!!!” Today, I will leave you all with this. “It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to run somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast.” – The Red Queen, Alice in Wonderland
ON THE NEXT EPISODE(MOST DEFINITELY HAVE NO CLUE): “Wow, this ______ place I went to is so cool.” “My friends an I went out to eat and shop.” *cries because school is hard* “Hayley and Alisa made me watch another Barbie movie.” “I have started working out again(putting this here so maybe I’ll actually do it)!”
Time for everybody’s favorite segment… Jacqueline Rates Things!!!! *studio applause*
- 7-Eleven – 6/10 – A classic, but they tend to be small – or at least the ones in my area – and always seem like they have less stuff
- Mini-stop – 5/10 – Gives mom-n-pop convenience store version. VERY small but does have warm snacks that are harder to find, like rice cake and sausage skewers
- CU – 9/10 – I LOVE CU! Not only do they sell Pokemon Bread – when you can find it – but they are always so nice inside and have the snacks I like. Plus the overall vibe is amazing
- GS25 – 9/10 – The bougie convenience store always super clean and stocked. Has a bit of a cold vibe, but is still a good time. Also has a pretty good selection of warm snacks, including baked sweet potatoes
- E-Mart 24 – 7/10 – Better than going to an actual E-Mart. Just a convenience store version. Vibes are still off, but if you need something, they probably have it
- Bon-Bon – 10/10 – I don’t even know if this is considered a convenience store or if there are others anywhere else, but it is amazing. It is a self service convenience store open 24 hours, no workers, and is basically all ice cream bars. It is a very limited selection of snacks and the restocking is random, but you can always find something you want to try in there