September 2, 2009 – September 4, 2009
So it is Wednesday night before I leave for Europe and I finally have everything that I am taking with me spread out across the living room floor of my house. Shoes? Check. Jackets? Check. Computer and chords? Check. Adapters? Check. Dance belt/shoes/clothes…etc? Check. These items and other belongings I packed…ok crammed…away into two suitcases and a backpack . At about 12:30 A.M. I packed the final item into one of my suitcases and zipped it up. Then I heard it. A ripping noise from my bag. I looked down to find that my zipper had broken off of the suitcase! Well crap! Less than four hours to my flight and I had a broken suitcase. As I was on my way to Walmart to get another suitcase I texted Natalie, figured she’d at least think have a good laugh with me about it. I was a little nervous about the whole “Studying Abroad in London” thing already and this wasn’t exactly what I needed only hours away from my flight. I told her that I had broken my suitcase and that I hoped this little incident wouldn’t be a sign of what was going to come in Europe. She texted me back with the best possible comment I could have ever asked from anyone! She said, “Oh man, I’m so sorry. I’m sure it is not a sign. It is like having a horrible dress rehearsal for a great opening night! J”. If you know about theatre I’m sure you’ve heard of this before…it was the perfect thing to say to me at the time. So anyway with my newly found comfort from Nat, I headed back to my house and repacked everything, getting into bed by 3 AM so that I could at least get an hour of sleep before I had to leave for the Memphis Airport.
So I get up the next morning and head to the airport with my parents. Saying goodbye to my parents was a little different for me this time. This goodbye was a lot harder for me knowing that I was going to a place where I literally knew no one and that I wouldn’t have the comfort/support system that I am usually headed to (Tulsa). So we said our goodbyes at around 5 AM and I headed for my gate. It wasn’t a very long flight and an hour later I landed in the Chicago Airport. Awesome! First part of the trip underway! …Now only a ten hour layover and I’ll be one my way…yes, 10 hours. But I could deal with the 10 hour wait since I got such a cheap student deal for flying this way. Do you realize how hard it is to watch 10 hours go by? I mean I tried to do my best to make the time go by faster by texting, walking the entire airport four different times, eating breakfast and lunch, reading through two magazines…and I mean actually reading every single article and not just flipping from here to there…and recharging my phone at one of the outlets and just sitting there watching people go by…still had 3 hours left to go. Anyway right before it was time to go the lady at the gate’s desk announced that there would be an hour delay due to the fact that the air conditioing broke and they were fixing it. I’m glad that they were going to fix it before I got on for the ten hour flight over but that just made my ten hour layover eleven hours. The fixes needed actually took less than expected and everyone was boarded and ready for take off within the hour. The flight over was nice. I mean it wasn’t as long as I remembered from the last time I flew to Europe back in my senior year of high school. On the plane they showed My Life in Ruins (you know, the one that had that girl in it from My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and Momma Mia! (Perfect for a musical theatre major heading to Europe! It reminded me of when Cynthia and I did the song from it in MTP2…good times.) The lady next to me was really nice and we talked after the movies finished. She was from Liverpool but was in the States visiting her son and grandkids. She gave me some great advice for my trip to Lancaster as well as some advice for being in England in general. She really helped calm my nerves about my adventure ahead.
FINALLY LANDED! I was now officially in Europe! I headed out of the gate toward customs, which wasn’t too terrible a wait. When I did get up to the customs attendant she told me that I was probably the most prepared student that she had ever seen come through customs. That was nice to hear since I was really nervous with the whole student visa laws changing almost every week. After customs I headed to baggage claim to get my luggage and a cart to hold it all in. I made my way to the station, bought my student rail card and ticket to Lancaster, found and boarded my train, and was off to Lancaster. Once I made it to Lancaster, I took a bus from the station to Lancaster University where I was going to meet Ellen Gillis. Ellen is an old friend from Briarcrest and we both decided that since we would be studying over here at the same time that it would be really cool to do some of our traveling together. As I arrived at the university and started to get off the bus, a little old man passed me and said “I’m so glad I’m not you at the moment. Oh yeah, good luck with the stairs.” What did he…oh dang it! I literally had to climb up these stairs and I decided to take each one up one at a time since I wouldn’t be able to manage all three together. I met Ellen at “The Venue”, a nice little café in the center of campus. After that we headed to her room where I unloaded some things and changed…since these were the same clothes I had been wearing for almost two days now. After changing we went to the grocery store on campus. Wow! Everything here really is a lot more expensive than back home. But there was one purchase that I didn’t really care how much it cost because I was going to buy it: a four pack of Guinness! Yes! Finally I can buy alcohol legally…not that I had ever in my life drank before…ok moving on. Once we got back from the grocery store we had lunch with a couple of Ellen’s friends from her flat. After lunch it was time for a nap…you know the whole jet lag thing really does hit you quick and sleeping on an airplane and in an airport you just don’t get a nice deep sleep. After I woke up from my nap, it was time to head to Dublin, Ireland!