Kamis, 13 April 2017

[Exchange Student Life] - Late Winter Arrival

As the spring has begun, my instagram timeline was filled by photos with cherry blossom background of my friends who are currently studying abroad or just traveling to hunt the cherry blossom peak season. This somehow, brought back my memories about the spring I had in 2013 when I was in South Korea.

To think about it, I think I haven't written enough about my experience in South Korea, have I? I was so productive into writing in 2012, mostly in fanfiction, which I had stopped writing it since I arrived in South Korea. At first I was thinking that I would be super productive once I arrived in the land where my muse (back then he is Super Junior Kyuhyun) lives but it wasn't. I was so mesmerized that finally, and finally, I was abroad, and somehow my writing appetite was going numb.

When I arrived, it was late winter. It was the early of March in 2013. The weather was super cold. I was freezing. At the first step I took when I went out from the Incheon Airport, I said "Somebody please turn off the AC!" Little did I know, it was the real weather of a winter. It was the first winter that I experienced, anyway. The cherry blossom, or in Korea it is called Potkot - hadn't bloomed yet.

As I remember, the day I arrived in South Korea was in Lunar New Year. The shops are closed, even in the airport. Fortunatelly, I had exchanged my money to korean currency before I flew here. I was greeted by two buddies who were assigned from the university, they are Kim Daeun and Park Ingeon. I met a Japanese girl, Moe-chan, and also a Hungarian guy, Dalian, who were also participants of the exchange program as me. Kim Daeun and Park Ingeon escorted us to a car, that time I had no idea whose car was that, that brought us to our campus that located in Chuncheon, the capital city of Gangwon province. I supposed it was because of the Lunar New Year and I didn't expect it before, the traffic was awful. As far as I recall, my flight arrived at Incheon Airport at around 9 am and at around 10 am, we started to depart from the airport to our dormitory and we reached our destination by around 3 pm! Well, at first I was excited and thought "Ah it's okay, the traffic is okay, I'd have more time to look around, to see he street-side life in this country", then I fell asleep. When I awake, we hadn't reach our destination yet :( the traffic was indeed awful. I think arriving exactly in the Lunar New Year in Korea won't be a good idea. 

The excitement was real!
Of course, the traffic jam that I mentioned here was kinda different with the one in Indonesia. In Indonesia, whe traffic jam happened, the motorcycle will fulfill every vacant corner of the street. The distance between one car to another was about slightly zero. There will be lots of honking sounds which pollutes the air. In Korea, the traffic jam is kinda different. The distance between one car to another could probably put one car in between. The motorcycles were rarely to be found. The honking sounds cn be heard about once in a while. The street was quiet.

But still, traffic jam is traffic jam. Be it Indonesia, in Korea or even somewhere in Iceland, it is indeed very annoying.

I arrived in my dormitory at the late afternoon, there, I met a buddy who is assigned to helped me with my settlement. Her name is Jeong Juri. When I met her, she helped me to take my dormitory card in the office and brought me to my room, BTL all girls dormitory in 13th floor. She helped me to buy my blanket in the university must. It was a nice and warm blanket that I bought it for 30,000 won (around Rp 240,000) back then. She helped me settled in hurry, she said she had to catch the last bus that going to her home. I said okay.

At day one, I hadn't met my roommate yet, but I knew that I would lived this room with other girl.  It is said that she was a freshmen and freshmen supposed to go for their orientation. Blame on to the jetlag, I went to bed directly after Jeong Juri left.

Animal print blanket, amunition for cold days in Chunberia

I woke up at night, starving. Back then, I was so afraid to go out, and I don't know a single thing about how to feed myself. I had three Silverqueen Chunky Bars that I supposed to give to my new friends and I ended up eating it. I also ate my raw Indomie Soto to fulfill my hunger that night.

So the next day, I emailed Moe-chan (I looked up to my email history and somehow I found her email on my official acceptance email), and I asked her, had she had meal yet? She replied my email pretty quickly, saying she hadn't had her meal yet. So I agreed to come to her room in the lower floor, and despite the awkwardness, we went out for food.

Of course, there was nothing to expect in school when it is still in the Lunar New Year Period. So we asked a random girl whom we met nearby the school building. Moe-chan's Korean was evidently better than me, so she asked the girl, and the girl asked what we wanted to eat. Well, I too bad I didn't make any research regarding Korean food I wanted to eat once I arrived in Korea (except patbingsoo) so I said to Moe-chan that everything is okay for me, as long as it can fill my stomach. The girl recommended us to go to the rear gate of the university because there are a lot of food stalls and restaurants that open even during the holiday. We ended up eating in a small shop called Kimbab Nara - which later became my favorite place to eat. I ordered two kimbabs, forgot to say that I don't eat pork. I got suspicious when I found a little delicious meat inside my Kimbab and I asked Moe-chan what did she think it could be? She said it was probably a beef so I kept eating it. Later I found, that the meat inside my kimbab was indeed pork ....

First Korean breakfast with Moe-chan

The next day I went to Ice Flower, a cafe which also located in the rear gate and had some toast with mapple syrup for breakfast, again with Moe-chan. It tasted heaven! We took a walk around the schoo, and I took photo in front of my faculty which is Business and Economy Faculty and surprisingky, we found left over snow around that place. Of course, I couldn't miss it. I took a photo with it, because that was marked as the first day I saw snow!

In the afternoon, my roomate came. Her name is Kim Sekyeong. She has a beautiful hair and a fair skin. Her eyes is pretty big for Korean, got eyelid (the thing that probably most of Korean wanted to death) and her nose is pretty high . I do think she resembles a Korean actreess, Moon Geun Young. In the evening, Sekyeong introduced me the food I could go in the rear gate. We went out together, also with Moe-chan. I had my first Jajangmyeon, that, little did I know, it also had pork on it :(

My beuatiful roommate, Kim Sekyung!

To write about my experience about my earlier days back then in South Korea, I am quite amazed that I can recall the memories in such detail. I can recall the freezing wind that blown me away shen I stepped out from the airport. I can recall the greyish atmosphere of late winter (I wonder if it's only in my imagination). I can recall how happy I was when Park Ingeon and Kim Daeun said that my Korean is pretty good (which actually wasn't :p). How I laughed at the funny dancing clowns in front of several stores (which were moved by wind or a big fan. I can recall how grateful I was, to have my dream comes true. The dream that I've been sewing since I was in elementary school.

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