FeatureOpinionPersonalTravel

From Instant Messenger to international travel: traveling to South Korea

2011 was an interesting year, to say the least. I can recall how most of my days were spent: Asia obsessed, Korean Pop music blasting, and my instant messenger pinging nonstop while I sat through Chinese 101 at the local church. It was popular to meet people this way at the time, so I thought nothing of it when a mutual friend introduced me to Elaine. That being said, I had no idea my love for K-pop would lead to a lifelong friend, world travels, and best of all, memories that won’t ever fade away.

An aerial view of Busan, a large port city in South Korea. Photo courtesy of Grace Stocksdale/Connect.

An aerial view of Busan, a large port city in South Korea. Photo courtesy of Grace Stocksdale/Connect.

Late in my middle school years, I was at a friend named Layla’s house. She had a pen pal she’d met on a popular K-pop fan social media website, the name of which I can’t even remember anymore, but through Layla is how I met Elaine. At the time, Elaine lived in Vancouver, Canada, so while we hadn’t actually met in person yet, we grew close in no time. We started chatting regularly, and our relationship quickly turned into a late-night Skype session, fill each other in daily, type of friendship. This went on for about four years before we were finally able to meet in person.

My senior year of high school, my family surprised me with plane tickets to Vancouver. They told me in September of the year prior, so I had to wait more than six months for the actual trip – which drove me crazy! But this was it, I would finally get the chance to meet my sweet friend Elaine in person. Some of my family lives in Vancouver, so the logistics were convenient.

Fast forward to March, and the time was finally here. I met Elaine at Metrotown mall in Burnaby, a suburb in Vancouver. As I waited impatiently in front of the local Starbucks, I scanned the mall. Floods of Asian people surrounded me, spoiler alert – Elaine is Chinese and Vietnamese, so this made it very difficult to spot her. Our mutual friend, Jenny, was there as well. As a Filipino, Jenny blended in too. After about 20 minutes of scanning the crowds, the two of them came up behind me and jumped on my shoulders. Squeals of joy and excitement overwhelmed our little circle as we hugged for the very first time. We all linked arms and spent the next three days enjoying each other’s company and Vancouver.

A rainy day in Myeongdong, a shopping district in Seoul, South Korea. Photo courtesy of Grace Stocksdale/Connect.

A rainy day in Myeongdong, a shopping district in Seoul, South Korea. Photo courtesy of Grace Stocksdale/Connect.

I took an additional trip to Vancouver in May 2017, and then, this past February, Elaine moved to Korea where she now teaches English. The timing worked out perfectly, and I was able to visit her in Korea for three weeks this summer. This was the longest amount of time we were able to spend together.

I left Tampa at about 8:30 p.m. and took multiple planes to get to Busan, Korea, where Elaine lives. The total travel time was about 30 hours, and when I finally arrived it was 5 p.m. I had no idea what was going on due to being completely delusional from exhaustion. The rest of the trip was a total dream. Check out my video below!

 

Enjoyed this?

You may also like GOD’S COUNTRY: TRAVELING THROUGH JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *