Hello Friends and Family!
For those of you who don’t know, I have recently arrived in South Korea! I’ve spent the past week in quarantine and have 7 days left before I can leave. Quarantine isn’t too bad, though the lack of face-to-face interaction has been a little rough. I’ve made it halfway through with help from my friends and family, and for anyone who is planning on traveling somewhere with a mandatory 14-day quarantine, here are some things that have helped me survive thus far!
Okay, this might seem like the simplest and most obvious thing to do, but please make sure you have all your flight information, quarantine address, and address post quarantine in writing. I thought it was fine since I had it all on my phone in an email, but airport wifi is not the greatest. So, make sure you are prepared with everything in writing. If you are coming to South Korea, make sure you have the address both in Hangul and a Romanized version for your own use (assuming you don’t speak Korean. If you do, props). You’ll need both the address of your quarantine facility and where you will be staying after your quarantine is finished. You will also need the contact information of your sponsor in Korea. If you’re a student, that’s your dormitory representative or a professor at the university. Make sure you have their name and Korean phone number, also in writing.
For the Flight
This goes out to my FibroFolks (copyright to be attained). Travel is difficult for most people, but for the lucky few of us with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders, it can be nothing short of hell. I was flying from the East coast of the United States so my total travel time was close to 16 hours. I always carry a small bag in my purse with the essential chronic pain kit, but before my flight I made sure all those medications were refilled. I also brought some small toiletries like a toothbrush and toothpaste (I forgot that most airlines provide them), hand lotion, lip balm, and mini-deodorant. This helped me to feel clean, even after being in a plane for over 12 hours.
I did not bring a lumbar support pillow, instead opting to use the pillow provided. However, I forgot my neck pillow! The shame I felt as I watched others happily rest on those padded, fluffy horseshoes while I wrestled with another airline pillow cannot be described. So please, make sure you have your travel pillow.
I did not bring any snacks for my flight as I was so focused on getting my quarantine snacks to fit in my luggage, but about 10 hours in, I wished that I had. The airline provides meals and snacks, but when I needed to take my with-food medication, I spent 5 minutes awkwardly trying to catch the eye of the flight attendant down the row, before I remembered that I had a call button. Most duty-free shops are closed at the airports, or the ones that are open are, of course, nowhere near your gate. So make sure you’re prepared. Bring some crackers or something light, and a reusable water bottle. (Make sure that water bottle is empty before you go through security though!) Some water fountains will be closed, but I was able to get mine filled by the nice lady at the airport Starbucks.
For Your Quarantine
Bring some quarantine snacks! I love Korean food, obviously, otherwise I probably would not want to come to Korea, but it’s still nice to have some snacks from home. I also brought some tea with me as my hotel has an electric kettle and I love me some tea.
Another thing that’s been really helpful is a water bottle humidifier! The air can be really dry and depending on how high up you are in the hotel, your windows might not open. They aren’t that expensive either! My sister bought me one from Five Below, which you guessed it, was less than 5 dollars.
My quarantine hotel gave me a little gift bag when I arrived that had quarantine information, a thermometer, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant spray. I don’t know if every quarantine hotel does this, but they should all give you a thermometer (in South Korea) as you have to record your temperature and any symptoms in the government app.
Bring entertainment! I brought some books, my kindle, computer with an external hard-drive filled with movies and video games, and yet I still find myself becoming bored. It’s two weeks of just you in a room. Bring things that make you happy.
The hotel brings food to my room three times a day, ringing the doorbell each time. So when breakfast comes (between 6 and 7 in the morning) that serves as my alarm clock for the day. The first few days after I arrived, I was so jet-lagged and I was tired all the time, but being forced to get up for breakfast has been really helpful to me. And the fact that it wakes me up around the same time every day has been great for my sleep schedule! (Even if the only reason I don’t want to kill the hotel staff for waking me up at such an ungodly hour is because they bring me brown sugar soy milk. That stuff is the shit.)
Keep a relatively normal schedule, even though you’re doing it all in one room. If you exercise in the morning (God bless you) find some good exercise programs on Youtube or Audible. Take the time to video call family and friends to remember what other humans look like. Get out of bed, get showered, and get dressed. Yoga pants are acceptable, just not the ones you wore to bed dammit! Make your bed, clean your surroundings, and open the blinds. I know how tempting it is to stay in bed all day, just watching movies and sleeping, waking only for meals like a King, but this is actually quite damaging to your mental health.
As someone who lives with depression and anxiety, this routine has helped keep me from spiraling. And whenever I’m feeling low, I know that I have friends, both in-country and back home, who are there for me to talk to.
Be prepared for slow wifi. The quarantine hotels are usually at least halfway, if not mostly booked, so everyone is using the same free wifi at the same time. And we’re all trying to stream movies or video calls. So, just be prepared for some buffering and a few frozen videos. Download some games, movies, books, etc. onto your devices ahead of time so you won’t be left high and dry when the rest of the hotel wants to watch Netflix at the same time as you.
I only have 7 days of my quarantine left, and while sometimes that feels like a lifetime, I am grateful to know that my being here is keeping others safe.
COVID-19 is still happening, friends. I know it’s been a long year, but we can’t stop being cautious. Wear your masks, wash your hands often, and remember: A video-chat Thanksgiving is better than an ICU Christmas.
Stay safe, and take care of yourselves!