Well, I’m safely back in Iowa, and glad to be here! It was quite the experience getting from Rome to Home–about a 30 hour journey with late-arriving planes, delays, and missed flights. I only got home about 3 hours late–so not too bad considering some of the stresses the day brought (result of day’s stresses: I’m never stepping foot in the Chicago O’Hare airport again).
Thankfully I’m not too jet-lagged. I stayed up the night before I came home (Friday night) since we had to leave the apartment by about 3am to catch a taxi and get to the airport in plenty of time, and I didn’t sleep on the plane home much, maybe a few hours out of the total 30 hours from start to finish, so I was ready to sleep once I got home-home. My plane from Rome to Zurich was fine–left on time and arrived on time. Then we had a layover from about 9am to 1pm in Zurich, which became 9am to 2:20pm due to previous delays in other cities due to snow around Europe (it was frigid and snowing in Zurich–a rude awakening from the 50-60 degree weather we were having in Rome). I watched a couple movies on the plane to Chicago, read some of my book, tried to tune out a wailing two-year old, and finally we arrived in Chicago nine hours later. Chicago was an epic failure in itself… Customs was a piece of cake, thankfully–they didn’t even look in my bags. We got into Chicago at 5pm, and I thought I was in pretty good shape since my next flight didn’t leave until 7:15. Boy was I wrong. It took us an hour and a half to get our luggage. When mine finally came down the chute one of my bags had two zip ties around it, a busted zipper, and was open two inches all the way around with my shirts dangling out the sides… I was NOT a happy camper. I now had a broken suitcase and only 45 minutes to get from terminal 5 to terminal 1 to check in and check my bags at the United counter. By the time I got where I needed to be, there was a huuuge line full of disgruntled holiday travelers. I asked a rude employee about my flight and how to do everything, she scanned my passport at the machine, only to find my flight to Des Moines didn’t even exist. It had been cancelled weeks before, and the next one didn’t depart until 9:05pm. At a small fee of $75 dollars (small?) I could ensure that I’d get a seat on that plane, or I could be put on the stand-by list and hope for the best. Well, I forked over the $75, printed my boarding pass, and got at the end of the disgruntled travelers’ line to check my bags. After not moving for an hour and fearing the slight possibility that I might not catch my new flight (the last one to Des Moines of the evening) I asked the Customer Service Manager what I should do… He sent me to the front of the line to check my bags in. Bad move. Immediately about 20 angry people started screaming at me, things like “LADY, WE’VE BEEN STANDING HERE AN HOUR AND FORTY-FIVE MINUTES AND THERE’S NO WAY IN HELL WE’RE LETTING YOU GO AHEAD OF US” and “LADY, WE’RE ALL TRYING TO GET TO MINNEAPOLIS, TOO! GET TO THE BACK OF THE LINE!” (to this one I replied, “Well, I’m not trying to get to Minneapolis.”) At this point I just wanted to get home, and I was exhausted, and stressed, and annoyed. I went to the back of the line swearing and sad, praying I’d make my flight. Once I finally got to the counter to check my bags, I asked that they zip-tie my open bag shut a little better before checking it, and got a big fat No in response, “We don’t have zip ties”–right. I believe that. Idiots. Then I was off to catch the train and find gate F in terminal 2, from which my flight would be departing. Oh, but wait… just kidding! Thank God I checked the departure screen while I was waiting to get on the train–my flight had been moved from gate F in terminal 2 to gate C in terminal 1, which is where I already was. So I took the chance and went back through security in terminal one, double checked the gate once I was through, treated myself to a Starbucks, then sat until it was time to board the plane at 8:45. Except it wasn’t time to board the plane at 8:45. We didn’t board the plane until 9:45 due to a mechanical problem, and finally departed at 10:15pm–3 hours later than I was originally supposed to leave Chicago. From there it was smooth flying all the way to Des Moines. I got in at about 11, and was greeted by my parents, my best friend Abby, and her dad. It was a great way to be welcomed home, I was so happy to see all of them after that 30 hour journey and four months apart. After saying our hellos we went and grabbed my luggage and headed home. It was about 11:45 by the time we got out of the airport, and I was starving, so we stopped quick at Village Inn for my first American meal (chicken sandwich, fries, and a diet coke), then home to bed. It was a long day, but I was fortunate to make it home only 3 hours later than I was originally supposed to.
Like I said, I love being home. I’m not so glad, however, to be stuck at home alone, iced-in with a couple of demanding dogs to nag at/sort of entertain me. This morning, for instance, I was awakened at 7am by Izzy whining and crying downstairs. Upon further inspection, she did not have to go outside, but reeeaallly wanted to get at a bowl of cheerios that had been left on the dining table from earlier. Good morning to you, too, dog. So far I’ve been filling my time at home with visits to the doctor and the dentist, a couple trips to my favorite–Target, catching up with friends, and finally getting a hair cut after 4 months! Today I’ve had eight cups of coffee, dinked around the house, played with the dogs a few times, enjoyed the snowy scenery, and taken a few pictures. Pretty fair day, but I’m starting to get a little cabin fever–especially after never having a dull moment in the last four months. Getting a little Rome-sick.
So that’s what’s going on for me. I think Mom and I might try and do a little Christmas baking this evening–Swedish Creme cookies, peanut clusters and puppy chow. I’ve got a couple of weeks to sit and relax and enjoy being home before it’s time to go back to work, then school starts again on January 11. I’m sad to say the best four months of my life have come to an end, and it’s back to the real world–school and work all day every day, an internship to prepare for, and a lot of planning and day-dreaming about what my next adventure will be. I’ve got a long bucket list going of places I wish I had had time for when I was in Europe, and where I hope to get someday when I’ve made some money and have some time… here’s what I’ve got so far. Let me know if there’s anyplace else I need to add to it!
- In the U.S.– Disney World, Sequoia National Park, Seattle, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Nashville, Alaska, Boston
- Tropical Islands—Bahamas, etc. Maybe a cruise?Puerta Vallarta
France–Paris, Cannes, French Riviera
Russia–St. Petersburg, Moscow
This list is long and will continue to grow, but studying abroad has made me more adventurous and ready to explore, and I’m excited about it. (Donations to make these big dreams attainable are more than welcome! ha!)
- Talk to you soon.