I made it to Korea. Maia, another Willamette alumn on the program, and I had the same flight from PDX to LA. The benefits of the layover were that I got to see awesome people-- my brother and friend Darryl-- during the break. The bad part is that our bags never left after the layover, and my stuff is only now in transit from the U.S. to Korea. I have made a lot of friends as I've borrowed clothes and toiletries from other Fulbrighters.
The plane ride to Korea was noteworthy in that they gave you yellow pillows, purple blankets, and pastel turquoise socks on the plane. The huge plane of sleeping people kind of resembled an Easter basket.
I'm happy here so far. The country is beautiful-- very lush and clean-- and I liked my first day of Korean food. The program is going to be a challenge, though: four hours of language class a day, culture classes in the afternoon, lots of assignments and deadlines. I have six weeks of orientation before I'm sent to a host family and it looks like they want you be very prepared. The only Korean I know now is the alphabet, and I've been trying to sound out words I see on signs and papers. I have no idea what anything means, but I can sort of pronounce words.
In terms of how I'm adjusting to culture...it varies. I have a 40% success rate after my first day of remembering to put toilet paper in the trash, not the toilet (they can clog). I bought some forest-flavored toothpaste yesterday to hold me over until my bags come, and while it's kind of like eating a pine tree, it isn't half bad. I am starting to remember to take off my sandals when I enter our dorm room (there's a ledge on the floor for that purpose). Yesterday I tried a melon bar-- bascially honeydew icecream on a stick-- and it was delicious.
I'm off to my first Korean breakfast.