Saturday, August 29, 2009

An American Tale: Sarah Goes East

My second airport adventure was, thankfully, not nearly as stressful as my first. Anne (the woman I was staying with) dropped me off at the International Terminal at about 12:30pm (after I had gotten virtually no sleep the night before), I checked in for my flight, ate my last meal on American Soil (an apple salad from Panera, yum), had some lotion thrown away at security (only issue of the day) and made it to my gate.

The flight itself was for the most part uninteresting. Highlights include watching Star Trek in Italian, a few hilariously inaccurate historical and political conversations with the girl sitting next to me which are better described in conversation, and a couple kids sitting in front of me who decided to be obnoxious Americans and actually get drunk on the plane and block the entire freaking isle because they legally could and because wine was complementary with the meals.

By far though, the best part was this:

What followed after that was a rush of exhaustion (after having about two nights with no sleep and then arriving in Rome at about 8am with a full day ahead of me) and insane heat. I lugged my bags around for a couple hours for move-in, ran up and down stairs a kajillion times (there’s no elevators), had to for some reason take a picture for an ID that day, signed papers, tried to move in, passed out for an hour in the afternoon, took a long cold shower, and finally explored the neighborhood a bit in the evening.

(To the right is actually a view from outside my bedroom window. That huge round thing is Rinaldo’s cafĂ© in the basement of the school, owned by this adorable Italian couple and a place in which I know I’ll be spending lots of time.)

Despite all of that though: the heat, the sleep deprivation, the heavy lifting… my first sight of Rome was, well, simply incredible. I don’t know if I can describe it fully – all I know was that as soon as I was on that bus away from the airport I couldn’t stop grinning. It could be because something I’ve been dreaming about since I was 12 is finally happening, or maybe because I was finally under some air-conditioning. But I think more than anything it was getting the undeniable feeling that this is exactly where I’m meant to be right now, and I can’t imagine it any other way.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Airport Adventure

So let me begin by saying generally I’m very lucky with airports. I’ve flown quite a bit in these past few years, and every time I get short lines, no hassle, and no stress.

Of course, that all changed today. The plan was to fly to Chicago today, see a bit of the area and stay with a friend of my mom's for the night, and then get on the group flight to Rome (with a majority of the other students I'll be going to school with) the next morning. While it all did work out eventually, there were some... issues. Needless to say, my tale of woe is outlined below. Enjoy.

1. Woke up late. Good start.
2. 20-minute line at skycap to check in my luggage. Damn. 1 hour till my plane leaves. Uh-oh.
3. Halfway to the front, and AARRG, I realized I left my wallet in my mom’s car.
  • “Hey mom I’m really sorry, I left my wallet in the car. Can you drive back and get it to me?"
  • “*sigh* Yes I’m coming back now”
  • She arrives, runs up to me with the wallet, we hug, say goodbye again, she runs back to her car to avoid getting a ticket, I look down at my bags; are you SERIOUS, where is my wallet?!
  • Mom and I look at each other from across the way, she’s still holding the wallet in her hand.
  • We run back towards each other again, this time I actually TAKE the wallet from her. Hugs, goodbyes, etc. Crisis #1 averted.
4. “I’m sorry ma’am, the computer’s not letting me check you in. You’ll need to go inside to area 1 and maybe they can put in an override for you."
5. Crap crap crap. I can’t miss this flight. I also can’t carry all four bags inside with me. I start freaking out, ask the woman in front of the check in line if I can leave my carry-on bags with her while I run to see if I can get on my flight. She rolls her eyes and agrees. Good enough for me.
6. I run over with my giant suit case and massive backpack to special area 6 instead for “additional services”, looking like this:

(Only with blond hair and glasses. And not being a middle-aged woman. Use your imagination.)

7. “I need to speak to someone now. I can’t check in outside, my flight’s leaving at 8:30am for Chicago, can you put in an override, or something? Please help me”
8. “I’m sorry, there’s no flight leaving at 8:30am for Chicago. There’s one leaving at 8:16am, but it’s too late to get on that one”
10. “We can put you on standby for the 9:55am flight, but there’s no guarantees.” Great.
11. Run back to get my carry-on bags, terrified of not getting to Chicago on time to catch my flight to Rome. The woman has left, but the bags are still there.
12. “I’m sorry miss, but because you left your bags here we need to have security check them. Someone could have put something in them, and you'd be responsible for that.”
13. Really?
14. But she saw me looking like a crazy person and so sighed and said: “ok you can just go.” Good enough for me. Crisis #2 averted.
15. At this time, after finally getting through security and feeling rather frazzled, I purchased some food for the low cost of my soul (that’s what they’re charging these days in airports) and made it to my gate.
16. The universe decided I had had enough stress for one day and let me on the 9:55am flight. Crisis #3 averted.

Anyway, didn’t get to spend as much time in Chicago as I wanted. But life goes on. Arrived around 4pm and had delicious pizza with the wonderful people I was staying with who had this amazing backyard (seriously, it was a golf course!) Chicago is (or at least the part that I'm in) ridiculously green. It almost reminds me of Connecticut and my Aunt and Uncle's house in some weird way. It's very comforting, and refreshing. And now tomorrow I'm finally flying to Rome. I'm a little sick of airports and planes at the moment, but at least this one will be taking me somewhere fun. Anyway... here we go!