I am alone in a small dorm room for 14 days, waiting to see if I caught COVID-19. I should feel excited now that I have made it to South Korea after a year of trying, but I feel nothing.
Maybe it’s because the view from my window is of baren trees. Trees that look exactly like the ones I left behind in Michigan. Or is it because I only had glimpsed Seoul briefly from the sky since I was transported to and from quarantine locations under cover of night.
The only two things in this room that remind me I’m far from home are the ondol heating system and the boogie wet bathroom. I say boogie because it’s rather large for a Korean bathroom, and the showerhead isn’t attached to the sink, although they both drain into the floor. This room is like any other dorm room with four walls, two beds, and two desks.
I wake up around 7 am my first morning in quarantine despite the jet lag. I am determined to have a productive daily routine during these two weeks. So, I start my morning off today and every day this week by making instant coffee and watching 30 minutes Kingdome in Korean with English subtitles. Semi-awake after a cup of coffee, I lay out my yoga mat and begin stretching. I focus on my breathing for the next 30 minutes to center myself for the day.
9 am breakfast arrives. I get excited if an egg I can eat or fruit breaking up the monotony of my morning oatmeal.
After breakfast, I study Korean, alternating between my required coursework for my program and learning to write Hangul.
11:30 am comes around, and I exercise for 40 minutes before I shower, eat a granola bar, and anything that won’t kill me in my lunch box. Then I join the daily zoom call with other teachers at my quarantine location, or I elect to take a nap instead.
When the chat is over at 4 pm, I watch orientation videos for my new job soaking up all the information about my new job that I possibly can before dinner.
Dinner arrives at 5 pm. I look longingly at the meal box but settled for freeze-dried soup or some steam-heated curry pouches. Mmm…
After dinner, I read till my heart is content falling asleep around 10 pm or 11 pm.
I get up every morning around 7 am and repeat this routine for the next seven days.
After one week of being productive and staying as content as one possibly could within four walls, I slowly start succumbing to the struggles of isolation, lack of food, and well anxiety.
This tory continues in week two of quarintiene.
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