Each time I study abroad there are a few crazy stories that I can never forget.
In Seoul, South Korea:
- Ari and I hiked a mountain near my host family’s home and found a dead cat. We called the animal control services to report the carcass and then were promptly told we trespassing on a closed trail. We had to crawl under a fence to be able to exit the base of the mountain.
- My ballet teacher would hit my knees at high school because I was so stiff and had trouble straightening my legs in ballet poses. At that school I also joined the all boys soccer team which is how I started to actually make friends.
- I lived ten months with no data plan. This is hard in a new city as large as Seoul (10 million people). So I would mooch off of free wifi at coffee shops EVERYWHERE. But coffee in Korea was like 7 dollars and I don’t drink coffee anyways, so I would stand outside the store window and connect.
In Gwangju, South Korea:
- Peter and I came within 3 feet of a killer bee, which upon research is the length of a human palm and will kill you in about 3 minutes if stung. On another hike, an old woman gave us ice cream and then told us that we should marry.
- I along with some Korean friends were pursued by a cult, and one friend even went to coffee with them later (which we got angry about once we learned of).
In Tours, France:
- After gaining ten pounds in Seoul (that was the chunkiest I have ever been in my life), I decided it was time to shed the weight and went on a run around my host family’s neighborhood. Well it started POURING and THUNDERING and LIGHTENING and I realized I was both lost and forgot my bus card. So I followed the flow of the river water and the slope of the hills (figured that downhill would lead to more water and thus civilization) all the way home. I had no phone plan = no google maps and would usually just screen shot a map before leaving a wifi zone or let it just happen.
- I met a student from Johns Hopkins on a train and we ended up traveling to about five different cities in France that summer, along with a Swedish student who was on military break (who I later told one day that he was being racist towards me… that’s another story). One day the three of us got lost on a bike trail and had to practically sprint-bike back to the bike store so we could turn the bikes in on time.
On the way to Moscow:
- I have not even landed in Moscow and already I have a crazy story. Guess I just wanted to start early.
My flight to D.C. was cancelled on Sunday due to Snow Storm Harper, so Jet Blue rescheduled me to Monday. I live 3 hours from the Boston airport and arrived at the airport at 10:30am. But then my flight was continuously delayed — about four times — before it was finally canceled.
At that point I stood in a long, sad Jet Blue line to learn that all fights are now booked or cancelled for Tuesday morning. My flight to Moscow leaves from DC on Tuesday morning…. I.e I needed to get down to DC somehow from Boston. Mind me, at that point I had already missed the entire Pre-Departure Orientation in DC that started on Sunday.
Amtrak was booked full and I would have missed the last train anyways. SO instead I rented a CAR and drove 8 HOURS from Boston to DC in the FREEZING COLD, arriving in DC at 2:30am, 21 hours after the start of my travel day.
The day was rather a mess and a fun story. The mess was figuring out how to get to DC and working with the airport staff to find my checked luggage that was hiding in the belly of some plane. But, earlier in the day I had met a really cool guy named Alex and we talked all day as our flights were being delayed. We basically relied on each other to figure out the chaos and stay calm. Alex and I took the rental car down to DC together, bopped to old Taylor Swift songs and ate buttermilk chicken nuggets and McDonald’s fries. It was a WILD NIGHT. Screaming Wagon Wheel at the top of our lungs in order to stay awake at 1:30am on the highway to DC was not how I imagined the start of the semester.
When I arrived at DC at 2:30am — remember my original flight was supposed to land in DC at 3:45pm the day prior — I then had to enter my hotel room where I had two roommates, also on my program. But I knew neither of them yet and they were sleeping by the time I arrived. Felt like I was intruding on the room of a family peacefully sleeping only to crawl into the bed with them (literally sharing the same blankets). Weird.
3 hours of sleep later I am now at the airport typing this and heading out to Moscow!