Ever since I was accepted into the International Studies Abroad (ISA) Florence Fall 13 program, I had my doubts about this dream becoming reality. The enrollment process and Visa application was incredibly tedious. I thought that I may never be allowed into Italy.
In that case, my mom and I left for KCI four hours prior to takeoff. We killed time by practicing foreign languages on the “Duolingo” app, though after an hour of listening to my mom butcher German in the airport I knew it was time to enter the gate. The loving and emotional woman she is suddenly teared up as I passed through security.
24 Hours In The Sky
The three hour flight to Washington Dulles felt like 30 minutes. Walking into my first cross-Atlantic terminal, I was amused by the amount of foreign languages spoken around me. Waiting in line with 300 people from all over the globe made me feel like a true traveler. The double deck Lufthansa plane included TV shows, dinner, breakfast, and unlimited beverages (which I took advantage of).
I usually fall asleep after takeoff, but my excitement and swollen feet kept me wide awake until Frankfurt.
Willkommen in Deutschland!
A permanent grin stamped across my face as I thanked the flight attendants off the plane. Instead of passing Starbucks and Pappa John’s, pretzel and beer tap kiosks were available every 500 meters. Next to my gate sat several American students, so I figured they were studying abroad. I introduced myself and they warmly welcomed me to sit and chat while we waited during our three hour layover. They were a group of 40 students from Monmouth, all as excited as I was.
Though they kept asking:
“You”re all alone?”
“Aren’t you scared?”
“You’re from Kansas? Wow, that’s cool”
That was a first.
These questions made me realize that I wasn’t scared, I was ready. Ready to step out of my comfort zone and into a new culture.
Landing in Tuscany
Our pilot overshot the landing requiring our plane to circle the city. The girls around me panicked while I sat bug-eyed staring out the window. How could they possibly be upset during this bird’s eye view of the city?
We finally landed. I took in the fresh Italian air and headed into baggage claim. My luggage arrived within 5 minutes and I exited out the gate to find a woman holding an ISA sign.
Hold up. What about customs? Shouldn’t I be questioned? No one wants to see my passport?
I guess I didn’t look like a threat so I followed my ISA leader to meet the students in my program. I immediately recognized two of my roommates and hugged them with impulse. We popped champagne right by the exit doors to celebrate.
WE HAD MADE IT!