It took me whole three weeks and another trip to see one of my best friends to recover from my hangover of Olympics. I am still not able to believe that I went to Olympics for a study abroad program and also worked for IOC (International Olympic Committee). I kept annoying each of my friends with all my stories until they got bored of me. I can happily say that these 23 days of my life was the best days of my existence. I wish I could go back and live those days again, but I know I would not be able to! I am very much ecstatic I got this opportunity for going to Olympics. I will treasure each moment of this trip through my life.
One of the good things I take back from my time in Olympics are all the people I made friends with. Now, I can proudly say that I have at least one friend from half of the countries around the world. I am sure I may not even see half of them in my lifetime. But I was able to make sure that I connected with them through social media. I met few people who have gone to more than three Olympics. I was lucky enough that I got to go to one of the games in my life. All these friends I made brought in so much diversity in me I have never experienced before. I got to know about so many cultures across the world because of them. Looking forward to the next games to meet some of them at least!
I had my tickets for South Korea with the Singapore Airlines. Prior to my trip, I had no idea about how the flight would be and what food they would serve me. But to my surprise, I was able to select Indian food during my check-in. When I sat down in my seat, I was surprised to see Indian movies and music on their entertainment list. I wasn't thrilled about these things on my way to Seoul since I left home from DC. It was a great moment of sigh, when my return flight had Indian food and Indian entertainment. After all my hardships in Olympics, these things made me miss my mom's food and my home in India.
My food experience in South Korea was not a experience I hoped. Since I had my dietary restrictions, food was always a problem. Everytime I had to order food in a restaurant or eat food at the workforce lounge, I had to ask someone what went into the preparation of the food. But once I got the hang of it, I was able to survive the challenge. These pictures are some of my meals which were made especially for me. Apart from this reason, the food was delicious otherwise. Eventhough I had the luxury of eating free meals at the workforce lounge, sometimes I sneaked out for a cheesy food. My best meal out of all my meals in South Korea, would be the one in Haslla Art World. It was a sponsered lunch from one of our GW students' parents. I am forever thankful for David's parents for inviting all the students to lunch.
Visiting the country houses was one of my favorites at the Olympics. These country houses offered a range of activities and experiences from learning about the culture, enjoying the native and specialty foods and beverages, opportunities to meet and greet athletes and in few cases current medalists and more importantly stores for purchasing team gear and souvenirs. Each house was unique on their own because the activities/events offered were different and some of the houses were closed to the public. I visited all the country houses which were open to the public and few others which were exclusive to members only. Of all the houses I visited, Holland Heineken house, The Czech house, Austria house, House of Switzerland and Casa Italia were my favorites.
GS25 was the closest convenient store to our accommodation. More than being a convenient store, it was a savior to me. The people who worked in the store (first picture) were the saviors. It was difficult to get around for anything since most of the people in Korea didn't speak English. These people helped me with a lot of things especially getting a cab. I can't imagine how I could have survived without these people. I am sure I would have survived without these people perhaps in the hardest way possible. Due to my dietary restrictions, I needed help everytime I bought something from the store. I was able to communicate through both writings and speaking slowly for them to understand me better. On the last day, I wanted to click a picture with them as a memory to treasure. Since I couldn't find them that day, I asked my friend to click a picture the next day. I heard from my friend that they were so happy that I wanted a picture of them. Now I have the picture to treasure all my memories.
Casa Italia, one of the best houses in Olympics 2018. The Italian house was closed for public entry but our professor could get us in for a tour of the house. My experience with Casa Italia was a unique one. As a curious student, I took out my notebook to take notes during the tour. But little did I know, I would lose my notebook at the end of the tour. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the house during the tour and that was the reason I left my notebook behind. Once I found out that I lost my notebook, I contacted both my professor and her graduate assistant for getting my notebook if it was possible. After a fair amount of emails back and forth, my notebook was discovered at Casa Italia. I am really grateful for all the people who helped me in finding my notebook especially my professor, who helped me in picking up the notebook as well.
I am sure every one of us would accept that getting a cab and explaining the address was the toughest job in our time at South Korea. Almost none of the cab drivers could speak English or even understand the address when communicated. We got help from the locals to write the address of our accommodation in Korean for the taxi drivers. I tried using the taxi apps but I was never successful in getting a cab through the app. So, I was using the old school method (waving at an empty cab) to get a cab whenever I needed one. I met this wonderful lady on my way back from work who spoke English fluently and understood every word of mine. I didn't have the need to show the Korean translation of our accommodation. I made casual conversation with her during my ride and there are only few cab drivers who are female. What a shame!
It was my first day of work when I stumbled upon this tree(picture on the left) in Kwandong hockey center. This game venue was my favorite game venue because I got to work most of the games that happened in this venue and this venue was known for only woman's ice hockey and few men's ice hockey matches. Although this venue involved lot of walking for the data capture, I really liked working in this hockey center. The tree on the pictures was made by volunteers of this hockey center to express their memories. The second picture was captured on the last day of my work at this hockey center which was the last day of matches in this hockey center as well. To be honest, almost all the post-it in the tree was written in the Korean language and only very few were written in English or any other language. I wanted to write mine in Korean as well and so I got help from a Korean volunteer there to write "I love Kwandong hockey center" and posted on the wall as my contribution. I was lucky that I was able to work at this hockey center because of all the memories I gathered ranging from watching the winning moment of Finland against OAR(Olympic Athletes of Russia) for the bronze medal of Pyeongchang 2018, president of IOC(International Olympic Committee) Thomas Bach, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo-jong watching the Korea vs Swiss ice hockey match.