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Published: February 26th 2018
I leave in 2 days - it's been an unbelievable experience. I came here not knowing what I was doing, who I would meet, and what would happen while I'm here. I had no expectations because I had no idea what would happen. All I knew about the Olympics is what I saw on TV from previous Olympics. The Koreans did a fabulous job preparing for the Olympics. They put in roads, 2 major train stations, improved train timetables, arranged for hundreds of buses to move around workforce, spectators, and athletes. They built the venues where the competition would be held. There were decorative banners and mascots everywhere. The Olympic Park had lots of fun things to do inbetween competition events. There were events at the beach, and hospitality houses (I only made it to 2) to visit. I never got around to karaoke unfortunately because I really wanted to do Korean karaoke. Between being sick for 9 days, quarantined for 3, and then back to work and going to Olympic competitions, I just didn't have the time.
The Korean people have been wonderful hosts and helped me muddle through things because I never caught on to the Korean language. I like some of the Korean food, and the quality is really different depending where you eat. When we first moved into the dormitory the food was okay and there were choices. Then that contract ran out and we were switched to another cafeteria and there were no choices and I didn't like the food. I quit eating there and either found other places to eat or ate at the workforce cafeteria while at work. Then they switched us to boxed food because everyone complained about the 2nd cafeteria. The boxed food was sometimes good and sometimes not. Then they switched us back to the original cafeteria.
Overall I feel the Koreans did a fantastic job hosting the winter Olympics. Now let's get caught up (and photos will come later).
Sunday, Feb. 25th
I got a free ticket to the Figure Skating Gala Exhibition from a friend. I saw half of it because I had other things that had to get done. So I was there 9:30-10:30. Then I got on the TC4 bus to GVL. I had to turn in my Korean phone (which I had been using exclusively), and I got my certificate for being a volunteer, and a Lunar New Year gift of a PyeongChang scarf. Then I went to the Farewell meeting for volunteers Okay - administrative stuff done. Took the TA21 bus to PVL, had lunch, and went to the meeting for volunteers helping with the Closing Ceremony. I get to carry the USA sign and take the athletes to the bus that transports them to Closing Ceremony. I finally got to the office about 3 p.m. The athletes would gather about 19:10, and when all of them had their marching passes I would tell the guy with the walkie talkie that we were ready to go. It was like herding cats. I finally confirmed that they all had their passes and we were on our way. It was a hefty 5 minute walk to the buses with me leading the way with the USA sign. My job was done!
The USA staff had tickets to Closing Ceremony and gave us free tickets. We had to walk about 45 minutes as fast as we could because we left PVL around 19:50 and the Closing Ceremony started at 20:00. We missed the beginning and got there just as USA was marching in. The Closing Ceremony was spectacular. The Koreans are really high tech and it showed. And I got to see K-POP finally. We (myself & 3 other volunteers) got emotional when they thanked the volunteers, and when they put the flame out.
Luckily the USA staff let us take a car home. The reason is because we have to move early the next morning. The plan they gave everyone was to turn in their luggage between 8-9 a.m and a truck would transport the luggage to the new accommodation place - Welli Hilli Park, a ski resort, and then take the bus to work at PVL. Our volunteer team (Team USA) will put luggage in the car, drive to work, then drive to the accommodation in the evening.
So we have a car. Iilya will drive, and lots of people want to jump in our car and get a ride so they don't have to take the bus. I wanted to give my roommate Sabria a ride but her phone wasn't working for awhile and then my phone wasn't working and we couldn't communicate. She also had a ticket but was sitting in a different part of the stadium. The internet didn't work well for me that night so I wasn't able to give Sabria a ride home and she took the 23:45 bus. By the time we all got home and talked awhile, it was about 1 a.m. when we went to bed.
Monday, Feb. 26th
We had to get up early, finish packing (and I have so much more luggage now than when I arrived), have breakfast and go to work. Our task today was cleaning the athlete's rooms. The athletes get alot of gifts too, and sometimes they don't want everything they get. So alot of stuff gets left behind. The USA staff told us we could keep some of the stuff. Now, I'm already overpacked, and they said we could take an Olympic comforter. At first I didn't want to do this, but Tammy convinced me to send it home by a slow boat, and I threw a few other things in the box to hopefully lighten my overstuffed suitcase. I got some pins, and other odds & ends. We are actually collecting stuff to make gift bags for homeless shelters here in Korea. Tammy is American but has been living here 8 years, and it was her idea to do that. We worked really hard today and will do the same tomorrow. The place has to be cleaned out because the Paralympics athletes arrive around March 5th, and the place has to be ready for them. The USA staff goes home and a different staff runs things for Paralympics. We had to take down all the banners that had the Olympics word and rings on it. We left around 18:30 and drove to our new accommodation. My roommate had already checked in for us. We are staying at a hostel - 5 to a room, sleeping Korean style which is on the floor with a little pad & comforter. There is a resort right next to the hostel and the ski slope is directly behind us. It is a beautiful resort.
It's late & I need to go to bed.
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