The Before:

Preparing to come to South Korea, I was occupied with studying for one of the biggest exams of my life, the LSAT. Excited and nervous to see and explore a new culture but at the same time, tired and anxious to get over the exam as the day after my exam, I will be departing for Seoul, South Korea. Months before the departure day, August 15th, my days, full of plans for studying, shopping, hanging out with my friends and family, and so on. The days draw closer. Still going through steps: how to get my visa, what to pack or not, how quarantine might feel for people, and researching some basic things to know about South Korea. The nervousness gets heavier as applications, and test results are now processed back; meaning South Korea is coming soon. It is now August 9th, my friends from my program have now departed to reach there on the 10th, leaving me behind. Happy for them but sad for myself, I will be behind on my release day for quarantine, with less time to explore before school starts. My friend, Aisha, informs me she is there, the place I will and have dreamt of going to all my life, “SOUTH KOREA”. Only 2 days left, finally soon to come, still excited, packing still going on, probably too many things but staying positive. August 14th, a day before my departure and the day for my biggest exam, the LSAT. Now it’s over, YAYYYYY, my journey is starting; on my way to the airport, hopefully, my luggages are the expected weights. Panicking in the airplane starts as I remember I’m scared of height, but it’s okay, I have a friend next to me. I arrive in Seoul, South Korea, so happy for my adventure to begin….

The During:

Quarantine, I forgot while in the airport waiting for my taxi. Everyone is so nice, getting me situated and comfortable, but I can still feel the staring. Heading to the hotel, I finally remember I’m expected to stay in a hotel room for 14 days, “I can do it” telling myself that. I get to the hotel, which I had heard from my peers, “it was better than the one they were in.” Happy that I am still in South Korea, I am told I am on the 10th floor, scared but okay, just 14 days, you will be good. Quarantine starts; food is okay, the view is exceptional, time to finish my list of dramas I had planned to watch and study my Korean. Halfway through it, quarantine is almost over. My peers are almost done with theirs, with only 2 days left for them to start their journey. Cravings start; boringness increases, times flowing fast some days and slow the other days. The day for my peers to leave approaches, jealous and happy for their freedom. Only 4 days left, spending those days catching up with my family and writing down places I would visit after leaving the hotel room. Ecstatic, I am finally leaving this hotel room, Solitary confinement, my family nicknamed. MY JOURNEY IN SEOUL STARTS…

Ruona Odharo is a student at Sam Houston State University. She is an ISA Identity & Inclusion Blogger and is studying abroad with ISA in Seoul, South Korea.

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