Floundering can be a good thing

Life in Hwaseong Dongtan as a Chungdahm April Teacher

The plane ride over from SFO

on February 21, 2013

Sooo….. Singapore Airline is super nice and is almost the same price as United Airlines if not a little bit more expensive (totally worth it). So far, it’s the only airline that I know which has outlets for you to charge your stuff on the plane! 12 hours on a plane obviously would kill your computer/ choice of technology’s battery.

outlet for you to charge your stuff!

outlet for you to charge your stuff!

Also, the plane is huge! I didn’t take a picture of all the different cabin sections but shoot, there was a lot! I mean, i was in one section and when I looked back, there was a whole different cabin section. Not to mention that there was business and first class in front (which looked super spacious and comfy by the way). The economy cabin was kind of tight, but at least we each had our own screen to watch our movies!

the seats

the seats

more seats

more seats

the nice screen

the nice screen


The plane served pretty decent food and the flight attendants were constantly walking around throughout the flight offering refreshments and snacks. Talk about nice service. I definitely approve.




Light meal before landing

The flight took about 12 hours and a normal person would sleep, but I just can’t sleep on planes…. the circulated air just makes it crazy hard for me to be comfortable. The thing was, the flight I was on was fairly empty and some people had whole row to themselves and were able to actually lie down and sleep. I wasn’t so lucky, but I did manage to get a row where there was an empty seat between the other passenger and I. A really good way to pass the time is to make a new friend and have a good chat!

My flight was at 12:50pm from SFO (San Francisco International Airport) and arriving at ICN (Incheon International Airport) at 6:30pm. Let me tell you, I didn’t sleep at all on the plane and ended up staying up until 10pm Korea time. Yes, that means I stayed up until 5am California time….. However! I slept like a log and woke up at 7am the next day. Probably the best way to get rid of jet lag is to get a reasonably timed flight (not arriving at friggin midnight…) and staying up until it was time to sleep in Korea. Oh! I also showed up 3 days earlier than the expected. For Chungdahm training, you are allowed to move into the hotel after 3pm on the saturday before training starts.

Ok, to the important part, the whole going through immigration and going to where I needed to go. First, I am staying at a friend’s place before I go to the hotel, so I do have it a lot easier than most who will be living in Korea. I still highly recommend arriving early a few days if you’re bad with jet lag (mine usually lasts 2 weeks if I don’t get rid of it early…). Find a cheap hotel or something to stay in for before you move into the training hotel.

Ok! Now! Time for the airport stuff. To get from your gate to immigration requires a ton of escalators and a tram. So get read to lug your carry on and whatever else you took with you on the plane (hope it’s not heavy). Going through immigration wasn’t as painless as I thought it was going to be. There were a shit ton of Chinese tour groups that were also going through, plus the other people who were either returning to Korea or visiting. The lines moved fairly quickly. The only thing I had to do was get my two index fingers scanned and stand for a picture (that and you should have an arrival card filled out for them). Easy! Getting my baggage wasn’t too bad either. Since I didn’t bring anything that customs had to deal with, I passed that area quickly too. After exiting into the main part of the airport, I went off on a search for transportation. There are two options: bus or taxi. Bus costs about 20,000 won. This will take longer and the driver will help you put your luggage on the bus. However, you will have to know what the stop is and where your hotel/place you’re staying is in relation to that bus stop. For the taxi, there is an international taxi service that charges different prices depending on which zone of Seoul you are travelling to. I was travelling to the Gwanghamun area and that zone cost 55,000 won. That’s not too bad of a price considering it did take 50 minutes to get to my destination. The taxi is definitely the way to go if you have more than one person, but it’s also not that bad of a deal even if you’re alone. The great thing about choosing the international taxi is that their drivers do speak at least a little English, if not more. My driver was super friendly and talkative.

Money. I exchanged some money at SFO just in case, but since I arrived early in the night I probably could have waited to exchange it at the airport. Oh well. My exchange rate was $1 for ~960 won. Apparently you get a better exchange rate at the hotels, so I would only exchange enough until I got to a hotel. For those who are going to just use their ATM to get money, look for ATM’s that say they accept international cards. When getting money from the ATM, I suggest that you take out more just because you get charged a pretty big fee and it’s not worth it to be charged that fee over and over again just because you didn’t get enough money last time.

Calling cards and payphones are available at the airport if you need to call someone in the US and let them know that you arrived safely. If you need to call someone in Korea, there are free phones located in the baggage area (before passing customs) that you can use.

That’s all I can think of at the moment, please leave questions and comments on anything that I might have missed or that you would like to see in a future post! Until next time!


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