Alex and Chickpea Do Korea

Arriving in Incheon Airport

AUGUST 18 — Weary from a 16-hour plane ride — mind fried, legs cramped, butterflies setting up permanent camp in my stomach — we arrived in Incheon Airport. I followed the crowds blindly, first to immigration and then to baggage claim. We wheeled our 200-pounds of luggage to an area on the other side of the airport, roped off just for those of us headed to teach in Korean public schools.

I had just enough time to meet a few people, brush my teeth, wash my face and wait two more hours for a bus to pick us up and make the three-hour journey to Jeonju University.

Once on the bus, my eyes struggled to remain open, not wanting to glance away from the onslaught of neon lights and shadowy mountains. The guy next to me is drinking soju. The couple a few seats back talk about Jesus. The bus bounces along.

I’m out cold.

I awoke at 1 a.m. to the sound of a bus microphone. Thirty confused, crusty-eyed expats shuffle out of the bus and under it, grabbing luggage. I’m stumbling and barely miss the largest praying mantis I’ve ever seen. We’re herded into a lobby, names checked, roommates chosen, shirts presented and soon I’m in a hard bed barely bigger than me with a window nearby overlooking my¬† new country, my new home.