Traveling to Seoul and First Impressions

From waking up at 4:30 am EDT on Friday to catch a flight to Chicago, a fourteen-hour flight to Seoul, going through customs and immigration, navigating Seoul’s subway, and trying to find the dormitories on Hanyang’s campus at 7pm KST on Saturday, it was a long and tiring day.

There are many ways to get to the campus from the airport, including bus, taxi, subway, and Hanyang also offered a pick-up service.  I decided to use the subway since it seemed like the cheapest and most straightforward.  Seoul’s subway station was relatively easy to use and much cleaner than SEPTA.  From the Incheon Airport to campus, it was about an hour and 30-minute ride with one transfer.

Hanyang University subway station is on the opposite end of campus as the on-campus dorms.  The campus also has many steep areas that are not very much fun to walk up, especially with luggage and rain.  It took me around 30 minutes to get from the station to the dormitory due to my luggage, rain, and getting a bit lost.

Late June to August is part of Korea’s rainy season.  Having known this, I packed a rain jacket and umbrella.  It has been raining nonstop so far; no sunny days here.  Sometimes it’s a light sprinkle, but most of the time it has been heavy rain.  So for your sake, please do not forget your rain gear!

On my first morning here at Hanyang, I decided to walk around campus to find my classrooms and the surrounding area to pick up some necessities from Daiso, a Japanese equivalent to the Dollar Tree.  There is a Daiso right next to campus; it is about a 15-minute walk from the dorms.  Even with an umbrella and rain jacket, by the time I got back to my dorms, I was soaked from head to toe.

A big concern most share when studying abroad is making friends.  One of the first questions I was asked when I told others I was studying abroad is if I was going with anyone or if I knew anyone here.  The answer to both questions is no.  It is a bit scary to be traveling on your own.  In the moment while traveling to Seoul, with adrenaline pumping, I was just going going going, not very concerned about being by myself.  I was too preoccupied with just finding the next gate and getting to the correct terminal.

However, once I was able to settle into my dorm, the realization dawned upon me that I am alone in a foreign country.  I can see how it can be a bit lonely and isolating.  However, I hope that once I begin classes I can start to make some friends!

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