If I were to write the whole journey I'm sure it would take me years to try to remember and also to reread this after. But this one is worth a shot.
It was early in the morning when I arrived. My flight was delayed for a couple of hours as an effect of the typhoon. And it was raining, too.
As soon as I reached the main building, I looked around, trying to familiarize myself with the new place I'd be calling home for a few months forward. Foreign symbols on the walls, busy crowd walking by, I don't know. I felt really small and I was quite afraid to get lost.
With a note from a new friend I just met a few days before, I dragged my giant luggage to the bus stop, hoping I wouldn't be that stupid to take the wrong bus and end up being somewhere I wasn't supposed to be. Right when I arrived, my bus was there. I was just trying to make sure that it was really the bus I should be taking when it took off. Yeah, an idiot abroad, as I welcomed myself to that foreign land. I took the next bus that came a few minutes later, and my mind started to wander around.
I'm not sure if I can describe that feeling. Amazed, that I made it that far. It might not be the first time I travelled far away alone, but surely it was the first time I was about to live thousand miles away from people I know. As the bus started to run splitting the busy streets of Seoul, I looked around and felt as if I was in one of those comic books. Ok maybe not really. But, the architecture of the city, with those Asian characters that I didn't know at all, was enough to make me feel that way. I don't remember much of what I saw because most of the time I was sleeping. At least I felt safe enough not to miss my stop because the friend that gave me that note told me that it would be the last one.
I arrived in the meeting point, someone from the school would pick me up. It was raining and though I was told that there was typhoon hitting the country and I should bring an umbrella, I wasn't smart enough to take out the umbrella from my giant luggage. So there I was, feeling the cold drops of water on my head. Finally I met that girl from school. She seemed really nice and friendly. Wanting to make a good impression, I remember I gave her one of the biggest smiles I've ever given to someone. After introducing ourselves, we took a cab to school and so my journey had just begun.
I clearly had no idea that being a foreigner was that special in Seoul, specially in the area where I went to. I'm never good at maintaining a small talk with someone I just met if the other person isn't really talkative enough, which she seemed like one, and that resulted in listening to the cab driver talking to the girl almost all the time in a foreign language. I might not understand what they were talking about, but I surely could hear that they were talking about me as the girl told him where I was from and that I'd be studying in her school. Not so long after, I finally stepped my feet on the school for the very first time.
I imagined it would at least be similar to mine, but it was not. It was really small. Maybe the whole school is just as big as my faculty alone. We went straight to the dormitory building where I would live, and after taking care of the administration process, I finally managed to get to my room which was becoming a private room for the first few days because another student from my school who was supposed to be my roommate didn't come. And I thought I was going to sleep right away, but I never thought that arranging my own room could be that fun. After hours, I finally finished and went to the international office room to get everything done, and later in the afternoon I went together with the other international students to buy the necessary stuff for our rooms. I was all alone, with this stupidly serious face, I thought it would take me a lot of effort to make friends with people. But oh boy was I wrong, in the place we bought blankets I successfully made my new friends. The first person I talked to was from Mexico. She was complaining on how messy the purchasing system was, and we started talking to each other. Too bad we didn't really talk much like in the first day during my stay there.
There were probably around 20 international students buying blankets at the same time, imagine the crowd. Most of them were in a group. Maybe they came from the same countries, or maybe they've been friends already, I don't know. And all these people were looking for the blankets they liked, asking the seller, looking around finding the perfect ones. It never took me long to shop, I finished shopping probably at the first 10 minutes. As I waited for the others, I was kind of observing the situation when I met this Thai girl. We talked quite a lot and how nice of her she introduced me to her other friends from Thailand, and until the very end I was having really good time with them.
The next day, together with the Thai friends and another friend from Spain, I went out exploring the city. School hadn't started yet so we had enough time for that. On our way we met other friends, from France and Malaysia, and we managed to be friends till the very end as well. What amazed me the most was to know how fast I could be really good friends with all these people, knowing I came all alone, then met them one by one, being introduced to their other friends, and voila, a big, beautiful international family.
September finally came. The first party, the first drinking time, the first fun classes, a lot of funny yet super exciting things happened in the first month. School tour, taking care of the drunks, seriously a lot to highlight this new friendship. The best part was that we lived next to each other in the dorm, very convenient. October then came too. Not that the rest of this month wasn't important, but what I remember the most from it was of course my birthday surprise.
We were studying together in the lounge room a few hours before the day. Few minutes before midnight one of them said she was hungry and wanted to go downstairs to buy some snacks. It was weird that only one person was hungry and everyone else should go down too, but I did. On my pyjamas I followed them downstairs and met another friend who was running in hurry. Another weirdness. I stepped in to the store and buying things too when everyone seemed a little panic for I don't know what reason. I felt bad that I started to get clue that maybe they were planning on something, and for that thought I couldn't help to laugh so I went to the toilet even though I didn't need to, just to give them some space to execute their plan and to laugh. I felt really bad seriously, for laughing. But then when I went out, I saw everyone gathered in the lobby singing happy birthday to me. Even though it was pretty obvious that they were plotting something, standing there seeing people I just met not so long time ago singing for me, I was so touched I almost cried (and it's safe enough to say I don't cry that much). Even more (as if it wasn't great enough), they started singing happy birthday one by one in their languages. And even better, there were some people I actually didn't really know that time, and honestly the first time I saw them I kind of had a feeling that they wouldn't like me, but well, there were no place for stupid thoughts and people seemed really happy too, which made me feel much happier.
And in November we had a halloween party. I couldn't be anymore creative by being a pregnant woman, which made me feel really stupid afterward, but what happened after was much stupider. And I was so lucky to have friends that are caring and everything. It started to get really cold in Korea and in mid November together with friends from France I went to Hong Kong and Macau. It was great to feel the summer breeze again during winter, but it wasn't that good actually for Hong Kong really reminded me of home. The only good thing of it was the company (and pretty much the idea of this whole journey).
Time was flying really fast it was December already. The end of school, friends started to leave, and my time was limited as well. I'd be leaving in the first week of January. Suddenly there were too many things to see and too little time to enjoy everything. Other than taking photos, we did exchange our little writings for each other, mostly about the impressions towards them. Memories made. At last people left.
January finally arrived as well and I spent the New Year's Eve singing a French song with an American friend. Not really french because actually we made the lyrics up out of all the french words we know, which absolutely made no sense for it goes like "voulez vous coucher avec moi? je dois faire pipi" (would you like to sleep with me tonight? I want to pee). It was one of the stupidest yet fun NYE that I've ever spent so far. And sadly, my time had finally come. RIP, as my friends jokingly said to me. I don't know how and why but I was sure that it was not gonna be the last time I'm gonna meet them. And I guess it would come true soon.
I sure had a lot of fun as well as a lot of mistakes. One thing for sure is that I will never regret doing things I've done for it gave me a lot of wonderful lessons in a very unique way.
A lot of people asked me why Korea, and I didn't have a good answer for that until just recently. A place to learn something new is never limited.