[Study Abroad Adventure] Day 1: Flying High in the Sky, Part 1

Study Abroad Adventure 1A

Waking up at 4:30am was a bit disorienting but I was too excited to be grumpy. My parents and I did some last minute packing and securing my luggage pieces and we were off to SFO. Now, I was a bit anxious coming to SFO because I remember SFO as being a super busy airport and I remember reading some pretty nasty reviews online for Air Canada. However, somehow I never got the memo that 5:45am is not a particularly peak time for the airport so, to my pleasant surprise, I encountered virtually no lines for the check-in and TSA processes. My two pieces of luggage were checked in super quickly thanks to the self check-in kiosk (could have even checked in online to shave off a few minutes).

Contrary to the reviews online, the Air Canada staff were very helpful and friendly despite it being super early in the morning. They were very eager to help me out during check-in, while I was fumbling around with the kiosk in my half-awake/jittery state. I may eat my words later but for now, I’m relieved that Air Canada staff aren’t douchey.

Everything was well and all and I said my goodbyes to my parents before I entered the TSA line (the non-existent one). Suddenly, there was this girl who came up to me and asked me for help. At first, she asked me in Mandarin but, being Vietnamese American, I didn’t speak a lick of Chinese so I sort of just said sorry. She then insisted in English, asking me if I could hold on to one of her carry-on items as she had a rolling backpack, a second regular backpack, and another bag. She obviously had much more than allowed and I felt bad but my parents told me not to due to security reasons. I wished her luck as she bid adieu to her host family, it seems, and went through the TSA without a hitch (one of the security agents even smiled at me!).

Hearing French being spoken at the gate during the announcements was cool, seeing as I haven’t spoken or heard French in quite a long while. What was more remarkable though were the office areas that this gate had.IMG_1881

There were a few tables with walls surrounding them and an outlet so businessmen can do work, I suppose. I had never encountered such areas before (my only experiences with international flights were the ones I had going to and from Vietnam with my family and the gates for those flights were just your boring seats with a few outlets if you were lucky to spot one) so of course I had to take advantage of these desks for the brief time I had for waiting for my flight. It was only a 45 minute wait so it was a short-lived experience but still, pretty nice getting to blog on a table at an airport.

IMG_1901The flight itself to Vancouver was only 2 hours and 10 minutes. I’ve never been to Canada before so it was my first time landing in Vancouver and seeing Canada.

IMG_1893The airport is nice but a little strange – the airport is like a maze with its many narrow pathways and the fact that my gate is closed off by glass walls and a locked door too make it feel like a prison. On the other side of the glass walls of the gate are a line of shops and restaurants, taunting me because I can’t access them readily (I actually don’t know if we can even get to them, to be honest). It’s all good though; I’m too much of a cheapskate to buy anything anyways.

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The only letdown of this airport experience was that I had to check in with this security agent before entering the international flight gates. That’s fine and all but the agent was this grumpy old white man who had some sort of power trip going on, as if he felt the need to assert his authority over me as a security agent at the airport. He asked me some brief questions and I answered them but he gave me some snarky comments back and was being plainly obnoxious for no reason. Honestly, I just wanted to get the hell to my gate so it’s all water under the bridge but still, not the best welcoming I got from Canada. Thankfully, I was only here for a few hours.

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There were mostly Korean folks going on this flight to Incheon so I was already getting a sample of what it will sound like in Seoul. Plenty of Korean dialogue was being thrown around between Korean children and adults and I was so eager to listen and try to decipher what they were saying. I caught onto a few words but that was it. The dialogue between this Korean mother and her little boy was especially helpful for me because she was practically holding her own mini impromptu Korean class.

IMG_1906This post is getting a bit long so I will cut it here for now. Hopefully, part 2 of this post will be written when I have arrived safely and soundly in Seoul and have settled into my temporary housing. If I’m not too lazy, I will be using my dad’s camera to take pics so hopefully, you all can get some better looking photos of my adventures in my future posts!

You are, of course, welcomed to follow me on my blog’s Twitter in the meantime to stay up-to-date on my travails as I journey to Korea.

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