I left Korea last week for a two week trip back to the US to see my family, who I haven’t seen since Christmas of 2019.
The first flight, the long-haul one, was alright. I had an aisle seat, which I liked, and I was sitting next to a mother and daughter, the mother who gave me a little packet of hand sanitizer before every meal on the plane.
The first meal was some chicken and rice, a side salad with Italian dressing, a little container of kimchi that was the cutest, and some vanilla custard with a raspberry on the side. It looked like the soft tofu that we get at school that has soy sauce added to it, but this was definitely sweet. The meal, in addition to kimchi, also came with a little tube of “Korean hot pepper paste.”
The snack was a ham sandwich with a little packet of honey mustard dressing whose label was written entirely in Hangeul, so there’s another reason to learn it before embarking on a trip to Korea.
To my surprise, there was yet another meal close to the end of the flight, which was either beef “bibimbap” (aka beef with some rice and veggies) or an omelet. I chose the omelet and both meals came with a side of fruit.
After the first flight, we had to receive our checked luggages and drop them off again in the same room, presumably for security reasons but there might be another reasoning for it. I had a few hours to kill in the airport, but it wasn’t terrible. I specifically chose a more expensive flight that didn’t have me spend twelve hours stuck in La Guardia airport from 11pm to 11am.
Apparently my parents thought I had missed my second flight because a woman came out of the terminal and said, “I’m the last one” and then the flight crew came out and I hadn’t come out yet as I was behind the flight crew. My checked luggage made it one piece, thankfully.
The reverse cultural shock isn’t too terrible. It’d be akin to me coming back to my hometown after spending years in the city. The cereal aisle is insane, y’all. There are so many options! I missed Cherry Coke.
Jet lag comes and goes. I can barely keep my eyes open around 7pm, which would be 8am Korea time. I’m nervous as to how I’m going to handle it going back, as I have to work the day after I land and I don’t get a buffer of a couple of days to reset my system.
I’ll be going back with two checked luggages, which includes new clothing and snacks. My mom is also making banana bread for me to take back and has already made chocolate-chip cookies, which is a bigger deal than it used to be as my parents are trying to do a sugar-free diet.
Merlin is being assisted by the lovely Mine, Grace, and Katra. I miss my fluffy bowling ball but my parents’ cat Riley is here to help.