A GROUP of University of the South Pacific students is in Yesou, Korea for the World Expo. This is the story of their initial experience of life in a technologically-developed countries in the world
AFTER a long wait from Sunday midnight, July 8, the bus finally came to pick us up bound for Nadi.
We left Suva at 2.45am and were quite uncomfortable throughout the trip because the minivan was too small to cater for 14 passengers with their luggage. We managed to reach Nadi in one piece and checked in at 6.55 am.
Checking in at Korean Air was really smooth. The Korean Air staff members were helpful and immediately made us feel comfortable.
The customs officers were a nightmare and standing in the long queue was no fun. Finally we were able to get through without any hiccups.
We boarded the Korean Air flight bound for Incheon International Airport in Seoul after a 10-minute delay. The long ten hours were spent watching movies and eating and taking short naps.
We were all desperate to get off the plane and the descent was absolutely fantastic, the view from the air breathtaking.
We arrived at Incheon around 5.30pm (8.30pm Fiji time) and the airport trains took us to the other side of the airport to go through Customs and then claim our luggage.
The transportation system in South Korea is very well organised in the sense that the movement of the people is very fluid. After claiming our baggage we made our way outside to meet Dr Peter from Korean Maritime Institute.
He took us to the subway to catch the train that came into the city of Seoul. Going through that route itself was a unique experience as it showed the development of the city taking place and the roads stretching for miles.
Buildings kept springing up from both sides of the view from the train and the skyscrapers looked aloof in the midst of the fast life.
Something that caught my eye was the rice paddies that were found between the settlements. Agricultural production is still important to the Koreans.
We got off at the eighth stop after an hour and a half of travelling.
From the subway we entered Hongik and walked from the subway to our accommodation and that took us 20 minutes of dragging our suitcases through traffic and people. We were in an urban jungle!
The hostel we are staying in is very comfortable and clean, something we found out as soon as we hit the city.
We checked in, distributed the rooms among ourselves and freshened up in 10 minutes to go out for dinner at Bullgogi Brothers.
As Pacific Islanders we had to critically evaluate the food. Dinner consisted of a Korean delicacy which was filled with fresh vegetables and beef. It may have seemed light, but very filling.
We were hosted to dinner by our hosts from the Korean Maritime Institute led by Dr Hyun Pyo Hong. After dinner we all headed back to the hostel and straight to bed.
All our laptop batteries were drained, and we were unable to recharge them because we did not have the adapters for the Korean power outlets.
This only showed how unique Korea is in technology as they have surpassed the ability to create technology not only to suit their needs but for the world as well.
Pauline and Shayal, the babies of the group, were the first to sleep. Pauline described her first day in Korea as a country that is well developed and technologically advanced.
She was so overwhelmed by her first day's experience in Korea. The two young ladies were asleep by 10.00 hours.
We can barely anticipate what this beautiful country has in store for 15 islanders from USP.
* Maria Sahib is a USP postgraduate diploma student majoring in development and governance. Alifereti Koroilavesau is also a postgraduate diploma student and majoring in marine affairs.