Hi. I started my posts saying “hello” since I started this blog, but now it has a different meaning because I’m actually in cowboy country, i.e. in the United States. United.
I’ve been here for a week now and since I’ve talked about this for months before, stressing and venting in blog post intros, I thought I’d share how that first week went.
I was stuck in New Jersey…
So I traveled a lot in the space of about five days. First I had to fly from Spain to the UK. It’s a 2+ hour flight that I’ve done so many times at this point and yet found myself jittery and fidgety halfway through. Considering I had an 8+ hour flight ahead, that wasn’t a good sign.
I then spent a few days in my hometown with my family before leaving for London. I chose to get off in London the day before my flight because I was too thoughtful and was afraid the train would be canceled or delayed. I’m so glad I did this because Jesus Christ, even going from the top of the UK to the bottom was exhausting.
My first train trip was great. I sat down, read my book, and ate my last lunch from Gregg. I arrived in London with a big suitcase, a big sports bag and a backpack. Don’t travel alone with so much luggage is my advice. It was torture getting off the subway and as if that wasn’t bad enough, I went to the wrong subway station (it took me about 10 minutes to get to the platform with my bags, so I I wanted to cry when I realized).
Eventually I made it to the train that would take me to Heathrow only to realize… that I had somehow lost my ticket. Although he showed the receipt and directions to the guy at the little electronic gate, he made me pay again. On the one hand I understand he was just doing his job, on the other hand I was having a bad day and there was no one around so I don’t see why he couldn’t just press the button to let me through, but I digress because, little did you know that was the most minor inconvenience I encountered on this trip.
I arrived at my Premier Inn, took a well deserved bath and ate alone in the restaurant. My dad was also eating alone at a restaurant in France, so we texted and sent pictures of food back and forth.
Then came the big day of the trip and I was so impressed with how smooth and easy things were. My bag wasn’t overweight, I got through security quickly. My biggest struggle was deciding which snacks I wanted. The flight itself went very well too. I’m finished Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jacksonlaunched a highly anticipated audiobook in Mox by Jon Moxleyand look 10 things i hate about you. Everything was going so well…until I landed and found that my connecting flight had been cancelled.
So local time it was around 9pm, but for my body clock it was 4am. I was so tired and exhausted and finding out my connecting flight had been canceled was the last thing I needed.
There is good and bad in this situation. Mostly bad ones, but the good thing is that I met the other girl from my university who was traveling on the same flight as me and we bonded through trauma. The bad thing is there were no other flights available that night and no direct flights to where we wanted to go available for literal days.
Me and a girl I had only known for two hours at the time we got a hotel room together and the next day we flew from New Jersey to Chicago then Chicago to Pittsburgh then took the Mega Bus in the middle of the night to our final destination where we were then picked up by the study abroad coordinator.
The universe was rightfully laughing at us because we checked the map in flight at the exact moment we were flying over Pittsburgh. We were right over where we needed to be and had to fly over it. I shouldn’t criticize the universe too much because, despite only 20 minutes to get to our last flight, we made it. I am also now a big fan of the MegaBus. It was 1:30 a.m. when we left. We pulled our hoodies over our eyes, stuck in headphones and even though I didn’t completely fall asleep I wasn’t fully aware and it was actually super nice and relaxing.
Finally we arrived at the university. I was ready to sleep for a million years and instead was pushed straight into enthusiastic orientations and group bonding exercises.
Americans are very happy and enthusiastic people. If I had even half their energy and happiness, I would be a whole different person. I have two main “first impressions” of meeting people here in the United States:
The first was the night I got stranded, we had sorted flights for the next day and were told if we hurried we could check in our bags. So we’re going to run, find the place to be told by the lady at the reception that we “could only check bags for flights departing within 24 hours”. It was at 10 p.m. Our flight was at 2 p.m. I was so tired at the time that even though my mouth was saying “but our flight is in less than 24 hours”, my brain was going “???”.
My second impression was on the flight from Chicago. One of the stewardesses noticed my accent and asked, “Australian?” “. That in itself was strange to me but valid – not everyone has an ear for accents. What stands out is that when I said “I’m from England”, he replied “Oh, I love England. It’s so British.” It’s been a week and I have no idea if this man was serious. I also blame myself for not having answered “I love the United States. It’s so American.”
Other than those two moments, my general consensus is that Americans are just very enthusiastic and a big fan of public participation in which they engage with genuine intentions instead of being sarcastic, which is my mode of default.
So that’s my experience so far. I was going to keep talking a little more but I continued on and on, taking the remaining frustration and exasperation out of me regarding my trip.
I use this blog as a journal more than that so I should expect more study abroad updates to come in the not so distant future. If anyone else is/has studied abroad, I’d love to hear about it! Thanks for reading and listening to me rant 🙂