First of all, I would like to say that the title of this post was Glenn’s idea. You will see why after you finish reading it.
And, for those of you who are not familiar with the drug Dramamine, it is taken to ease the symptoms of motion sickness. You can buy it over-the-counter at any store, as well as in airport stores.
Secondly, if I spoke/chatted with any of you while I was at the airport en route to South Korea, I apologize if I was a little short with you or didn’t seem myself. That’s because I wasn’t myself. I was doped up on Dramamine.
Let’s start from the beginning.
My flight being Friday at 6:20am, it was impossible to find anyone who could/would drive me to the airport to arrive at the ungodly hour of 4:00am (that meant waking up at 3:00am, or earlier, to pick me up and arrive on time for me to check in). So, my parents took me to the airport Thursday night with the intention of sleeping there. My mom helped me bring in my bags and settle in at a table in front of Starbucks for the night. The good thing was that I obviously wasn’t the only one with that idea – there were a surprising number of people doing the same thing. It was about 10:30pm when I said goodbye to my parents and they left.
Have you ever tried to sleep with your head on a marble table in a freezing room? No? Try it sometime, and you’ll wonder how I got any sleep at all that night. (I passed out from about midnight to 1:00am, but couldn’t sleep AT ALL after that.)
Around 3:00am, a woman arrived at the ticket counter and saw several of us waiting at the Starbucks. She allowed us to check in early, but lucky me, my bag tags wouldn’t print and I had to keep waiting until 4:00 for them to open officially to try again. About a century later, it was 4:00am and I checked in and FINALLY got rid of my bags and could go to the bathroom! (Have you ever tried to go to the bathroom with 4 bags? It was easier to just hold it and not worry about my luggage for those 6 hours.)
Alright. The night was finally over and I went ahead and found my gate. I had about an hour before boarding time, so I found a store and bought my beloved Dramamine. However, they didn’t have the non-drowsy kind, and bought the regular kind thinking it was a good thing – that it would help me sleep on the plane (also, it was either that, or vomit during take-off and landing). Did it help me sleep on the plane, you ask? Oh child, let me tell you….
You can take up to 8 pills in 24 hours. Knowing how uncomfortable take-off and landing are for me, I took 2 before my first flight. It knocked me out pretty quickly, and I slept the entire hour to JFK. Eventually, though, you have to wake up… and wake up I did, but for the next 24 hours I’m convinced that I was never, actually, completely awake.
With a 5-hour layover at JFK, I figured that’s when I would call my grandparents and various family members for a final goodbye before taking off to Korea. I know I spoke with my mom at one point, but do you think I remember the conversation we had? I liken it to when you’ve been in a deep sleep, someone calls you on the phone, and you remember talking to them but don’t remember what you talked about; it feels like a dream that you can’t remember. I know that I ate pizza at some point, but barely remember standing in line, ordering, eating, etc. I also know that I managed to go online on my laptop and checked Facebook as well as chatted with a couple of friends (who, you ask? Not a clue). I do know that every time I sat down, I passed out… until someone or something was loud enough to wake me up, when I would drift to my next spot and pass out again.
Somehow, I managed to board the right plane at the right time (at which point I took 2 more Dramamines, in case the others had worn off by then. In addition to keeping me from vomiting, those pills obviously cloud my judgement). I know Glenn called me and we talked for a couple of minutes before taking off, but I only know this because he told me later on. I don’t remember talking to him, and I don’t remember the conversation. Apparently, I was quite short with him. (Sorry Glenn!) I was knocked out again before the plane left the gate.
I slept for the first 8 of the 14 hours of my flight. Apparently, I had woken up to eat – chicken and rice, I think? – and ordered some water. (I’m happy to know that in my doped up state, I still had the good sense to take care of my thirst and hunger pangs.) After I “woke up,” I watched a couple of movies and got up to use the bathroom and walk around. I think I had slept off a lot of the Dramamine and was lucid for the remainder of the flight. I slept another 2 hours between the 2 movies I watched. Before I knew it, we had landed in Seoul! But not after taking one more Dramamine to ease the discomfort of landing….
Have you ever left the country and had to wait in long lines and deal with rude immigration officers at the airport? Do you enjoy any of that? No, you say? Then come to South Korea! They were the most efficient and friendly airport workers I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been to 21 countries), and kept it moving so quickly that I didn’t even stand in line. From the time we landed to the time I picked up my bags and went out to look for a sign with my name, it had probably been only 20 minutes. Despite having traveled for 22 hours and being drugged for most of that time, I do remember finding my name among the various signs in the crowd, helping the driver put my bags into the taxi (I was twice his size and apparently, twice his strenght), and hit the road to Paju. I honestly don’t know how long it took us to get from Seoul to Paju, because yet again, I passed out immediately. I’m guessing it took about an hour. The only time I woke up was in the middle of a downtown (Seoul?), where everything was in Korean – literally everything. I couldn’t tell what was a restaurant, what was a store, a bank, a coffee shop, etc. Needless to say, I closed my eyes again and fell back asleep until we arrived in Paju.
Upon arriving at GEV (Gyeonggi English Village, my place of employment), I was greeted by a woman from HR who took me to my apartment and gave me a welcome bag with a few basic food items to get me through the first night and day. That bag saved my life, because I was ravenous and I devoured everything in there. After I ate, I took a shower and went to sleep around 8:00pm-ish (that’s just a guess). I woke up at 8:00am the next morning.
My apartment is, apparently, the largest on the GEV campus. I don’t know how I managed to score it, but I am very grateful that they gave it to me and Glenn. The previous inhabitants clearly didn’t own any cleaning supplies, or even a broom, as I spent all of Sunday cleaning the entire apartment. (To give you an idea of just how dirty it was, after cleaning just half of one window, my rag was already black.) In addition to my obsessive cleaning on Sunday, the same woman from HR from the night before took me on a tour of GEV and down to the Emart (right outside the village, about a 10-minute walk) to buy some more food. I bought eggs, lettuce, apples, grapes, and olive oil to get me started… and because I couldn’t identify anything else in the store. On my next shopping spree, I’m going to have fun picking out some Korean items and attempting to cook with them later on.
So, that was my weekend. It’s already Tuesday morning, 2:17am, and yesterday was my first day of work/training. On to my next post….