As I printed out my plane tickets on Asiana Air (carrier based out of South Korea), a huge portion of it was in Korean. I immediately thought to myself- “shit got real”. Seeing half the writing in those squiggly Korean lines made it feel tangible, like the dream would finally be coming true.
While booking the air and hotels, I had to remember that I lose two days traveling there and gain one on the way back. There was no one to explain that to me (just what exactly is +2 days?) so I had to scrutinize and figure it out myself (Pat on the back). It was a lot of planning to book flights that would accommodate Seoul, Tokyo, and a New York stop on the way home (why not?)
Forget learning more of the language (no time), I instead have time to learn a few simple words such as a dog may. I have memorized the Japanese word for “English”- “Eigo” (pronounced like Eggo, as in Waffle, is how I remember). Forget whole sentences (unless my Google translate works- and will it?)
And between two languages, I keep getting simple things mixed up. I still am trying to memorize basic words in both languages, such as toilet, numbers, please, thank you, airport, train etc. and it just isn’t sticking in my jerk brain. I’m pretty much a lost cause.
For a while I was studying a book to try to teach myself Korean. I just wanted to learn the gist, the concept. How does all that chicken scratch and circles flow together to form a WORD? I read it’s the easiest Asian language to learn. I must admit this gibberish seems to have SOMEWHAT of a system. If I have their alphabet table in front of me (10 vowels!) I MAY be able to make out an easy word with the “translation” table in front of me. But then I have to look up the Korean translation for the gibberish I just sounded out.
Why or why does there have to be about 6500 languages in the world?? Imagine trying to one day communicate with aliens. In what language???
Then there’s all the apps I must download. And which ones? Which work best? What if my phone dies or loses internet, the holy grail of traveling? Will it even work in a foreign country? (I read up on “unlocking” a phone and now I’m even more confused.)
I must make space on my near full phone to download those apps. And I of course I need to find time to have the husband help me with that too.
I had to delete three apps just to make way for Google translate. And let me tell you that app is amazing. You hit the camera option, point it at foreign written words, and it translates it. It’s like putting on a pair of glasses when you can’t see and suddenly it all comes into focus. You can amazingly read all the scribbles. I have also printed out SO many sets of directions, “just in case”.
So after Japan there’s South Korea for 2 days. I can’t even PRONOUNCE the sentence in Korean for “do you speak English?” With Japanese you can kind of replicate their sounds when pronouncing their sing-songy words. Korean? For the most part, save for a few easy ones, no way! After all they have 10 vowels! They use different sound combinations than we have ever heard in English.
The way they say their consonants and vowels is so different than we do. Google “do you speak English?” in Korean, and try to repeat it! Google translate needs a slow down pronouncing feature!
And then I must remember the difference between Won and Yen, and how many spaces to move the comma to roughly translate to U.S. dollars. I must learn new forms of money. Japan is coin heavy. They have a $5 coin. And how will I get cash? What if I can’t figure out their ATMs? Japan is still a very much cash country!
And I must find the time to pack! I have checklists and sub-checklists. Checklists for my checklists. Usually with only two weeks left my eager and excited ass has been packed for a month already. Here I’m so damn intimidated by my journey that even packing seems so overwhelming.
My fear is that my recurring dream will come true- it will be time to leave for the airport and I will just be haphazardly throwing things into the suitcase because I’m so behind. And yet I will try in VAIN to “pack light” (yes I will admit I’m a member of Overpackers Anonymous). And how will I fit my giant suitcase on their streamlined trains?
Also, I can’t run out of anything mid-trip because where would I find it? Like deodorant, for example? I’m sure I would waste a few hours just searching for stupid stuff like that to buy if I ran out. And time is money, I didn’t pay a small fortune to waste time hunting down band aids. I may never get back so want to enjoy my time there to the fullest.
I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. This is an “if I didn’t know better I’d think I was dying” sort of trip.
I joke- but couldn’t I have picked an easier place for my first international trip? (besides the Caribbean countries I’ve been to on cruises). Canada perhaps? Because I may never get back, I don’t want to miss something I consider a must see or do and then say “next time”. There is lots of pressure. One shouldn’t feel pressure on vacation yet I always do. I make lists upon lists. Daily itineraries I hope to keep.
This quote is helping me through- On the other side of fear is all the best things in life.