posted by Kaitlyn Weber

Jetlag. I always knew the meaning, but only now can I say I understand the feeling. My trip from the U.S. to Cambodia existed in increments of fourteen. Precisely fourteen hours before my flight was scheduled to depart, I lay in my bed wide-awake and overcome by nerves. I had never left the United States before and visions of the unknown ensured no sleep the night before departure. My plane was to depart Atlanta at 12:30 am. As advised, I arrived at the airport three hours early in order to deal with the horrors of international security. I was through security and at my gate well within thirty minutes.

Aboard Korean Air my next fourteen hour increment began, the journey from Atlanta to Seoul. Seated next to me on the plane was a young boy with a worn Atlanta Hawks hat.   I asked him if he was traveling to Seoul to visit and he immediately began to laugh. He said he was not Korean but Chinese and would be returning to his home country for the first time in three years. He had not seen his parents in three years. He asked me why I was en route to South Korea and my reasons and entire life story were explored within the first hour of flight. I was far more interested in him. He left China in pursuit of higher education and ended up attending Georgia Perimeter College. He had dreams of attending the University of Georgia but was denied admission twice. I asked him how he handled living so far away from home. He told me if an opportunity arises, take it.

I fell asleep. I slept for roughly ten hours of the flight. I arrived at Incheon International Airport at 4:20 am. I had researched the airport at home, looking for fun activities to fill my fourteen hour layover.  Consistently voted one of the best (and sometimes the best) airport in the world, Incheon offers gourmet dining, live entertainment, cultural museums, and much more. I decided to wait until sunrise to begin exploring this city within an airport. I found the terminal from which my flight to Siem Reap would depart and laid down for a brief nap. Seven hours later I sat up in complete confusion. The once empty terminal was buzzing with activity, the sun was high in the sky, and I was ready for more sleep.

Over the next several hours I passed in and out of consciousness, with every intention of exploring the airport in the next five minutes. Instead I slept seven more hours and boarded my next flight. The journey out of Incheon was stunning. Our plane soared over picturesque island landscapes as the sun sank low in the sky, casting shades of red and purple across the Pacific. Despite every effort to enjoy the last leg of my journey, fatigue once again consumed me. This sleep was not a peaceful one. Fears of landing alone in an unknown country controlled my dreams and I tossed and turned.

I was not alone. Upon landing and claiming my bag I was met by a Journey’s Within Representative and taken to the comfort of a bed at last. Fear subsided but exhaustion persisted. Once again, I slept.


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