Will Traveling Be the Same Again?
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Before the pandemic, I loved the idea of being a foreigner in Korea. My attachment to the place was limited because I could come and go as I pleased. It was an adventure for the longest time (my gap year turned gap life) until it wasn’t.
Since coming to Korea in 2014, I had never experienced any restrictions to traveling other than money (that was a significant restriction, actually). However, then Covid hit us, and I now realized that I was no longer that privileged. I was forced to stay in one place for a year without any plans of leaving. I don’t know about you, but leaving Korea (occasionally) helps me appreciate the country and feel recharged. After a trip, I’m usually able to get back into the swing of things much more easily.
Things became harder to bear when my grandmother passed away, and I couldn’t just drop everything and go to comfort my mom. I wasn’t vaccinated, and I didn’t know when foreigners would get the opportunity to be vaccinated. That was so frustrating. I tried to see if I could get on the waiting list and potentially get vaccinated to travel still. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. I felt disappointed with the system because it sometimes feels like foreigners are an afterthought. Thankfully, I could travel and see my mom, although I had to take three weeks off one job and agree to teach online for another job during my time abroad and the quarantine.
Inconsistent Rules & Regulations
It’s hard to keep up with everyone’s rules and regulations. I had prepared all the documents in my folder (there are so many), but when I got to customs, I couldn’t enter the country because England was on the red list. For a split second, I thought to myself, “I did everything and now I have to go back to Korea? You have got to be kidding me.” Fortunately, I was exempt from the list because I was coming from Korea.
Inconsistent Mask Policies
Another thing that is so inconsistent is mask-wearing. In Korea, I don’t leave home without it; however, when I got to Belgium, I was conflicted because some people sometimes had them in some places. My cousin was getting married, and to go into the wedding hall, everyone was required to wear a mask up the stairs but could take it off in the hall. Some stores required masks, and others didn’t. I just thought the whole thing was ridiculous. I wish all countries would decide on one direction! Is that too much to ask?
All of this has me missing the days when you could just get on a plane with no masks and no forms and just go to your destination and enjoy your trip. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I hope we’ll see the old travel days again.
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