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  • Writer's pictureNyamal Gatluak

My First International Flight & Quarantine Hotel Experience

Before leaving for South Korea, I watched hours of videos about how to pack, what to do, what to bring, how to act, what to wear, etc. But no amount of preparation could’ve prepared me for the flight and quarantine experience.

That intro may have been a bit dramatic, but one thing I’ve learned from studying abroad in a country nearly 6,500 miles away from home is that traveling long-term isn’t as glorious as social media influencers make it out to be.


After completing an uncomfortable 17-hour trip to South Korea, I stood for hours in lines for immigration, baggage claim and quarantine hotel check-in at the Incheon Airport. I was exhausted, uncomfortable and hungry. The last thing I wanted to do was stand in line. Still, I was grateful to be out of the plane and I understood there was much to be done before I could rest in my quarantine hotel room that I would be stuck in for the next 14 days. So, I tried to enjoy the experience outside the hotel as much as I could.

Several hours after getting my documents processed at the airport, I was able to get a taxi and head to my quarantine hotel, which was about an hour away. One thing I quickly learned is that Korean taxi drivers do not play. As I took photos and videos in the passenger seat, I was shocked by how fast but well the driver drove. We nearly hit so many people and cars and squeezed an oversized van through some of the narrowest streets in Seoul that I’ve seen. But I strangely felt safe.

Shoutout to my taxi driver <3.

When we arrived at the hotel, we were told that our dinner would be waiting for us in our rooms and that we would get meals delivered to our doors three times a day. I was excited to eat because the flight food was okay, but not filling and I was starving.

As I stepped into my room, I was shocked at how spacious it was. It was nice, and it had everything I needed. It was my first time having a Korean-style bathroom, where the shower isn’t separated from everything, which I loved and hated. It was convenient for cleaning and it made sense. But I didn’t like getting my feet (or socks) wet every time I went to the restroom.

I honestly was uncomfortable with the comforter because it had questionable stains on it. I didn’t see it at first, but when I lifted the bedsheet and the sun shone through it, I saw large dark circles and realized that the comforter underneath had huge dark stains.

My skin is crawling just writing this. (‘:

After seeing that, I couldn’t stop thinking about it or even sleep with it, so I removed all the sheets from the bed and made a makeshift bed sheet out of my scarves and winter jackets which were even more comfortable than the hotel sheets.

Oh - I also had a giant spider to keep me company. But I honestly didn’t mind her. She stayed on her side and I had my side.

My bestie who kept me company during the two-week quarantine period

In all honesty, I was just grateful to have reached the country safely. I was excited to get out of quarantine, explore Seoul and try different foods, especially after my interesting experience with the Korean quarantine meals. To read more about my Korean quarantine meals, click here!



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