Monday, January 14, 2013

Vacation day 15 - Notes from the San Francisco-Chicago flight

The jaunt went better than expected.

For one, making acquaintances with the woman sitting next to me, a Russian immigrant working for a foundation, sparked a lively conversation that spanned the entire flight. We'd gotten to talking because of circumstance: she'd had to move so I could take my window seat and offered an apology for being in my way. No matter, I said, for such things happen all the time. We discussed everything from travel destinations to college parties and touched in Korean and Russian culture along the way. As someone interested in visiting the Motherland, meeting her proved interesting, for she had plenty to say about the country. The more she talked about Russia, the more it sounded like Korea: both countries focus heavily on math education, both are known for hard-driving mothers, and both have similar work cultures where coworkers often go out for dinner and drinks. She'd never visited Korea in spite of an extensive travel resume and had plenty of questions of school and professional life as well as life in the countryside, so I expounded on them as best I could. The 1.5 years provided plenty of things to say, many of which I've written about here. From school and Wasu, I moved to Seoul and the travels around the country. Again, talking about the traveled sparked the thought that for all my future travel plans, I've done plenty so far. Also, I saw that even though I know I should be much better at speaking Korean, what's there counts as intriguing to someone who doesn't speak the language. Even knowing the Hangeul script means something, for as she said, "It looks like drawings." Writing her name in Korean blew her mind. Likewise, while we didn't talk too much about the Russian language, I've always like the Cyrillic script and how its characters look well.

Talking with her proved energizing, for a much as company can get draining, I just as often get a kick out of it: our talk alleviated the harsh jet lag I'd had in San Francisco and helped the time pass. A flight that might've been spent fighting in vain for sleep instead became a learning experience. It surely best wondering when the plane would land or what song to play next. Even so, the plane did in fact land 30 minutes early. Fancy that piece of luck--I don't think I'd ever heard of a plane arriving ahead of schedule before. Clearing customs didn't happen because I'd already done that in San Francisco, but damn was getting the shuttle pick up point long--I swear I walked through half the airport.

(It's a cloudy and cold day in Waukesha, WI today. The thermometer reads 22 degrees F and a light layer of snow coats the ground. I arrived in WI yesterday after my mother generously picked me up from the hotel near the O'Hare airport. I'd thought about writing a post about arriving in Chicago after a day of traveling, but the jet lag rendered that too hard to do. I waited instead and did it today, which was a better way to go. A good sleep finally came.)

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