Moving to South Korea During a Pandemic Part 3: The Flights

Well, I made it. Still no exclamation point at the end of that sentence, but there will be after The Airport and several days of recovery.

The day I leave for Korea, I get to the airport thirty minutes after it opens, an hour and a half before my flight boards, and there is one ticketing agent. Fuck. I wait and pray that I make it onto my first flight of the day by some miracle. Although ten other flights are leaving within thirty minutes, it is not till moments before my flight starts boarding that they add more agents to the counter.

I made it! They held the flight five minutes for me. I am fortunate 10% of my flight didn’t make it in time to board. I was really hoping that this was my last dramatic episode before I arrived in Korea, and to be fair, it technically was.

Besides having a stress and exhaustion migraine, my final flight was uneventful. We land smoothly in Incheon but were rushed off the plane to get in line with immigration, where I was running a temperature. 37.6 degrees Celsius, to be exact. Fuck.

They push me off to a small boxed-in area where they gave me a minute to cool off and retook my temperature. I still read over the limit, so after doing more paperwork, the immigration officials escorted me to another holding area to fill out more paperwork and wait. I had no idea what’s going on, but I assumed I was waiting for a Covid test. The poor immigration employees didn’t speak English, and my Papago skills were lacking during this stressful moment.

I breathe as I wait. I tried unsuccessfully to tell myself that ‘I made it’ with an exclamation point. Well, at least I’m smiling? I think my attitude of ‘at at least I’m here. I’m sure things will be fine.’ annoys everyone else who is quarantined off like I am. In truth, the officials know what they are doing, and although I’m confused, I doubt they will leave me on the side of the road somewhere or send me to prison if I have covid.

We leave our bags as they usher us to an elevator that leads to the testing area just off the tarmac. Oof, that test was painful, and I accidentally gaged in the nurse’s face after she digs through my sinuses as she goes for my tonsils. I do shed a tear then, or maybe it was snot shoved up my nose and out my eye by the swab. Whos to say. I don’t have time to decide which bodily fluid it was as they rush us back to pick up our bags, then through immigration again. We go down to the baggage claim to pick up our luggage and off to a temporary quarantine site where we wait for our results.

They feed us but out of fear that I may be allergic to it, I settle for a protein bar and a nap on the floor. A few hours and an extremely awkward wake up by stomping later, I have tested Negative! A small moment of joy before I am ushered back on a bus to the airport where I grab a taxi with two of my fellow teachers headed to my Quarantine location where I will spend the next 14 days recovering.

I arrive at a college dormitory where I sign in and head upstairs to my room, where I promptly send a message to the world that I’m alive before I pass out. I made it! (!!!!!!!)

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