Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Flight, etc

I spent most of the night packing and got about an hour of sleep. My parents took me to the airport for my flight at 9:35. We hit a lot of morning traffic, so it made it hard to just stay calm on the way there. I checked in, said goodbye to my folks and began a long journey away from home. I mean, I’ve travelled before long distances without my parents, but this time it was much harder to say goodbye without getting sad. This whole trip has been really expensive and they’ve done all that they can in order to make sure that it happened and that I will be alright overseas. It’s been teaching me a lot about the role of a parent and how I want to model my life. I love and admire them so much.

My plane ride from San Antonio to Houston was short, but enjoyable. Since it is such a “short distance,” the plane doesn’t really get that much altitude. So I spent most of my time in wonder of the landscape outside my window. It was a small jet and the seating was laid out to where there was one row against the left side, an aisle, and then two rows on the right. I was lucky enough to be on the left side so I had both an aisle and a window seat. No one was to my right, so I didn’t really get to make conversation with people. I just spent my time gazing out the window. It’s crazy what we have done with the place. So many roads...plots of land...just crazy. And yet, we’re still so very small.

I arrived at the Houston airport, grabbed my luggage and started to find where I was supposed to go for my next flight. I was approached twice by Spanish-speaking people, one asking for help with a pay phone and the other trying to direct me where to go. I responded as best I could and already felt the language barrier change while still in the United States. It was really funny...the lady that was asking for help with the phone kind of understood English and spoke only in Spanish. I was the other way around. It was just cool that we were both speaking two different languages at each other, but still knew what the other was saying.

I spent the next few hours at the terminal where I was supposed to check in later with Air France once the rest of my group arrived. I went and bought and expensive sandwich (airports...), ate it, and then waited around for people to show up. Slowly the rest of the group arrived, Alana (our study abroad adivsor) showed up to see us off, we checked in, and went through security. We then went and exchanged USD for Euros and felt the pain of the conversion rate. After that we had a good 3 hours before our flight was to take off. Some of us played a round of Uno. Then I took a nap on the floor, so I don’t really know what the rest of them did during that time. I woke up when there was about 15 minutes until boarding time. We then boarded the plane and began the LONG ride to Paris. They served us dinner, which was rather good. I had watched a 007 movie before that and after dinner I turned on the laptop and my “seatmates” (Ashley Dias to my left and Mike Refsland to my right) watched two episodes of Scrubs. Then it was time for some bored movie watching on the plane for a little bit. I decided to “go to bed” for a few hours and now I’m up and we have about 2 hours left of flight time before we land in France. It’s been a long ride so far...

We just landed in Paris. It’s 32 degrees outside and very dry (barely breathing causes a cloud to form in front of you). We started to look for where we were supposed to go for our next flight, but it wasn’t listed on any of the screens! We asked some people and got various directions toward a check-in spot. Turns out our flight got cancelled due to bad weather. So instead of having to rush around to get to the plane, we have another 2 hours until our new flight departs. That’s a good and a bad thing. It’s good that we don’t have to rush around in a place we don’t know at ALL...but it’s bad because we are all already jet lagged and very tired. Already fun times in a new land...

Well, I slept all the way from Paris to Barcelona and that was nice. After we landed, we had to wait a while after getting our luggage because Dave Morris’ got lost. He got it all figured out and then we went through customs. For some reason though it was crazy easy to go through. They didn’t even stamp our passports...which is something that I wanted to have done. But we were already running late and we had to see if Alba (our contact) was there to greet us. She was and she gave us our apartment keys and put us on taxis to the apartments.

The taxis ride ended up being about 10 Euros per person, so that wasn’t so bad. We then went into our respective rooms and checked them out. They seemed really nice. Each room has two beds (one full and one twin...neither of them long enough for our legs), a small kitchenette, and a bathroom. My roommate Ryan and I opened up our window and looked around at our view of the street below. We’re on the 2nd floor. We then went and looked at each of our friend’s rooms to see what they were like, even though they were going to basically be the same. My room was different in that we have a “washing machine” instead of a bidee in our bathroom. The washing machine looks very weird and I’m going to have to spend some time trying to figure it out.

I then took a shower and we headed out to find the girl’s apartment. We got very turned around walking across the city and after what seemed like forever, we made it. Only to be disappointed and surprised. Their apartment was really nice. It was crazy. There is no comparison between theirs and ours. Even though it is big enough for 6 people to live in, it was very spacious, had a huge living room, and a large kitchen. They guys were immediately bummed out. We spent some time bashing the study abroad program because we were never shown pictures of the Muntaner apartment (the girl’s), but only of Marti. It was bad. After a while, we went out in search for food. Some people went to a grocery store. Others, like me, went to a nearby panería. I got something that was cooked ham in between French bread. Pretty good, pretty cheap. My group then went back to the girls apartment and turned on the TV for a little bit. Yeah, they have a TV! I fell asleep and meanwhile the people that went to the grocery store, ate their food. After that we all went out in search of an internet café. After much walking, we found one and for .50 Euros, we got half an hour of time. So I got online and said hi to some people and emailed my Dad letting him know that I had made it alright and to spread the news.

Now, I think it’s time for bed soon. It’s been a really long couple of days and my body is wanting some sort of relief. Off to bed I go.


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