I’m thousands of feet up in the air as I write this, gliding in a perky purple WOWair plane towards Iceland, and I don’t think it’s fully hit me yet the adventure that’s begun. I can’t help but think a few thoughts over and over – the purple librarian in the basement at UW’s Dana Porter library would be in heaven on this plane, as would my cousin. No one owns more purple items than them and I’m shocked they aren’t already WOW shareholders. There are purple carpets, purple chairs, purple lights, and the outside is rocking that royal color vibe too. The second thought is that people in Iceland must be tiny because I’m eating my knees and praying the girl in front of me doesn’t put her seat back any further. Six feet tall in the middle seat is no bueno with WOWair. Fellow giants and leggy folk, book that purple aisle seat.
The weeks leading up to today were a lesson in preparation; specifically that I don’t do enough and that it’s definitely time to pick up the slack! This was most apparent when getting vaccinated. I made two rookie mistakes – not budgeting enough money (my pocket hurts more than my overly-pricked arm!) or time (each has a different schedule to follow and some require more than one dose). Luckily all superhuman injections penetrated my flesh just in time; the last one this morning. Bring it on mosquitoes and germy food!
Packing, as always, was superb. It’s by far my favorite travel activity…ahem… My “what if” instinct kicked in full blast for this trip, particularly the rainy, chilly Iceland portion. In fact, I am now the well-stocked owner of foldable rain boots, thermal undies, a toque (I don’t wear hats), a fleece sweater, and one of those puffy jackets that can double as a pillow. “She must be an expert camper with all that gear”, people will say. We won’t tell them the truth. The best part though, is that, somehow, my thousand-tonne bag waltzed through the dreaded weigh-in without a second look. Pro after all.
*Which item below did I not buy?
The Best Part of Iceland So Far
I’ll leave you with a pretty awesome tidbit I learned about Iceland reading the WOW magazine: there are no, I repeat, zero McDonalds joints on the island. Unreal. I’m as excited as the time I ate chocolate for breakfast in Belgium. I have dreams about fast food joints (minus pita, poutine, and pizza places, and Harvey’s) being eradicated from the world. Iceland might be a new favourite country and I haven’t even landed!
What is your packing style? Are you as excited as I am about a country’s complete absence of McDonalds?
Almost 24 hours of travel, 2 planes, 5 bags, and 1 new helpful Aussie friend later, I arrived on Jeju Island on August 6th, which thankfully was a lot less hot than anticipated. I don’t know about you, but personally, I am a sweater. There’s no way around it. If it’s hot, those little beads can’t wait to leak through to cool me down…and threaten to drown those around me. I travelled through Southeast Asia two summers ago and I swear Niagara Falls 2.0 sprung out of my body the second I walked out of the gloriously (over) air-conditioned doors of the places we stayed. Bodily cooling systems aside, the island is absolutely beautiful and it’s no wonder people flock here to honeymoon and vacation. How spoiled am I to call this my new home!
Upon arrival at Gimpo Airport, I was greeted by my new boss, her husband, and a woman from HR. It was a good thing I alone, after everyone else. My luggage took up most of the back of the school vehicle. Some colleagues had shipped their belongings, but I lugged it all with me through the airports. At the residence I met a few of the girls, back from a night swim, and received a lovely welcome note on my door!
Jetlag didn’t hit until Day 2 so I spent the first night unpacking and organizing my new abode. I will have two places of residence this year: the teacher don residence and the dorm where the students stay. As teacher dons we have overnight shifts in the dorm every other week. I have yet to see the dorms, but I hear they’re similar to the teachers’ residence. My new apartment has two bathrooms (!), a queen-sized bed, a living area, and oodles of shelving and storage. Each don’s apartment furnishings vary but all have the same layout. I think our residence will be used as a dorm once the population of the school expands further, hence the two bathrooms.
Our rooms also came with welcome packages which included items such as: brownies, butter, milk, cereal, Jeju oranges, hangers, and TP.
The next morning I attended PYP training for teachers so I could learn more about the IB program and met another group of fresh faces to the school. Everyone was friendly and a few even asked how the wedding was. I caught up with some logistics (setting up a work laptop) and settled into the day.
In the evening the teachers and staff at Branksome attended a Welcome Dinner at the Hyatt Resort in the Cliff Garden. My inner self rejoiced as it was only hot for a small fraction of our evening outside. No one wants to be the sticky one when they’re dressed up and meeting new colleagues. There were a variety of local (black pork) and Western (pizza!) finger foods to fill our bellies and lots of vino to keep us hydrated. After an initial flurry of group paparazziing (I’m not the only one!), we explored the beach and paths nearby.
All in all, I’d say it was a pretty wonderful first 24 hours on the island. It’s safe to say I’m looking forward to what’s next.