A Bumpy Road to Seoul


My journey to Seoul included being robbed, getting an emergency passport, and arriving three days late with fortunate help from the University of Montana School of Journalism.

My original travel plans were to fly out of Seattle on May 15th and arrive early the morning of the 17th. I planned a 24-hour mini vacation in Seattle for my boyfriend, Ian, and myself before I was scheduled to leave so we could spend some time together before I left on my trip.

After arriving in Seattle and spending two hours trying to find the key to our Airbnb, we were forced to find a motel about 10 minutes away that our host graciously paid for. Turns out our host’s landlord found her hide-a-key and took it.

The next morning, we loaded up Ian’s car and drove to the Seattle Center. We parked in a busy parking lot next to a coffee shop about a block away from the Space Needle, paid for parking, and went on our way.

We returned to our car around 7:30pm. The back window had been shattered and both of our backpacks were gone. Mine had my passport, laptop, hard drive, a recorder, and my favorite sweater. The parking lot we were in was appropriately named “Trust Parking.” I called my mom in tears. I thought my first international trip had been stolen along with my passport and my computer.

When the police finally arrived, we explained what happened and filed a report. The officer suggested we look through nearby dumpsters to see if the robbers had dumped any of our belongings after stealing them. Ian had already looked through the closest dumpsters, so we spent about 3 hours digging through trash and recycling bins in the dark in Lower Queen Anne before giving up and returning to the motel.

The next morning, we went to the Seattle passport agency so I could get an emergency passport. My passport was printed around 3 p.m. and we drove back to Missoula, arriving around 3 a.m.

I spent most of the next day on the phone with Asiana Airlines, racking up international call fees and trying to get a refund for my missed flight. I have yet to receive one.

On the May 17, the day the Seoul program officially started, I went to the journalism school to try to figure out if I could get help getting to Seoul. Kathleen Whetzel, who basically makes the school run, with help from office manager Cameron Bucheit and encouragement from Dean Larry Abramson, helped me find a flight, paid the difference between what credits I had with Delta and the price of the ticket, and checked out a laptop from IT for me to use while on the trip so I could write on-the-go instead of relying on libraries and cafes.

I flew out of Missoula at 6 a.m. the day after buying a ticket, and I’m finally in Seoul after 20 hours of flying. It was a long trip and there’s no way I’d be here if it weren’t for all the help I got. I’m nervous about how my stories are going to turn out, but I’m relieved to be able to writing this from South Korea.

Blog by Melissa Loveridge / Photo by Skylar Rispens