I’m so used to blogging about minor grievances that announcing anything significant seems off-putting. The news: in one week, I’ll be out of the country, doing some… Seoul searching.
Some people found it disconcerting that I wasn’t more visibly excited about the prospect of studying abroad in Korea (beyond being inordinately pleased with myself for just now coming up with the highly uninspired “Seoul searching.” I plan to use it on everyone I meet, so the jury’s still out on whether I’ll have friends by the month’s end.)
Friend: Are you excited?
Friend: Why aren’t you more excited?
I’d chalked it up to my faulty, overburdened emotional processor—not that there’s much of a feelings backlog, with all the eating and sleeping and working and vegetating I’ve been up to lately—but, as it turns out, my processor was just lagging. A month’s worth of wait-I’m-going-to-be-in-Korea hit me full force about a week ago as I realized I was somehow woefully unprepared for the experience despite my having done zero preparation work.
T minus one week, I downloaded Duolingo and started swiping through lessons on the Korean alphabet. My friend told me the most effective way to learn a language is to memorize the top 100 most common words, and I believe everything people tell me, so I pulled those up and spoke them into the midnight void of my room.
Friend: Well, at least you’ve been doing something.
Me: I’m just cramming the alphabet and some common vocab at this point. I mean, I’ve got a week.
Friend: How do you say hello?
Me: That’s a very interesting question.
After Googling how to say hello in Korean, watching a YouTube video on it, finding another video directly contradicting previous video, watching several 10,000 Calorie Food Challenges and competitive eater Matt Stonie scarf down enough buffalo wings to feed a small nation, I found some past university exchange students’ Korea study abroad vlogs and fell down the rabbit hole of YouTubers giving study abroad advice. I remembered the number little details I’d need to consider, like bank accounts and cards and phone service and packing.
Me: If clothes in Korea are as cheap as people say they are, I probably only need a week’s worth. Plenty of other Americans to fashionably represent our nation.
Me: I can probably buy all toiletries there, too. And exchange money there. And get groceries. And a converter. Probably don’t need a hairdryer.
Me: *packs four pounds of protein powder minus the containers*
So if you don’t hear from me in a week, either I’m well-adjusted to Seoul and having the time of my life gorging myself on street food or I got stopped at airport security and am being intensely questioned for the suspiciously unlabeled bags of powdery substance for which I’d rather get arrested than explain why I thought protein powder deserved the most real estate in my luggage. Probably no in-between.
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