Monday, September 29, 2014

How I Got to Chester

            My travels to England might not have the makings of an Indiana Jones movie, but it did involve enough obstacles and stress to leave me a bit scattered.  I’m going on record here to establish that I. Absolutely. Hate. Flying. Period.

            Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling and getting to new places and experiencing new things; but the actual act of buying a ticket, checking in, going through security, and ‘flying’ is not something I especially enjoy.  So imagine my excitement when I found out my first flight out of Nebraska had been canceled.

            I had just lugged my huge suitcase into the car and was sitting with my parents, appreciating a few minutes of relaxation before the two-hour drive.  The announcement felt a bit like the climax of a horror movie: “Flights are grounded at Chicago O’Hare and Midway airports after a fire in an air traffic control center.”  As my flight was still in the afternoon, I had hope that they’d be back up and running by the time my flight took off.

            My hopes were crushed, however, when I received the dreaded ‘canceled’ update text halfway to the airport.  I’m all for spontaneity: for example, I love last-minute Taco Bell runs at midnight.  I don’t, however, love when all of my travel plans change last minute.  Instead of a hop to Chicago and then a skip to Manchester, I had to hop to Dallas, leap to London, take a six hour break, and then take a jump to Manchester, nearly twelve hours later than planned. 

            As much as I hated the detour, I can’t lie and say the entire experience was awful.  Actually, it was quite fun and enjoyable (most of the time).  If you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of a negative-minded traveler.  I expect the worst at every turn and it’s really a full-proof way to send me into a panic.  The worst is when I'm flying: “There’s no way this huge-ass thing is gonna stay in the air.  I hope they secretly weigh everyone as they come through the ramp.  How else would they be sure the plane could make it in the air?!  Wait… why did the plane just shake?  WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!”

            How badly do you want to travel with me now?  I just worry about the most pathetic things and doing that ruins the experience for me and everyone else.  Thankfully, due to the large volume of traveling I did this last year, I’ve come to find an easy way to overcome this habit: take notice and document the good/fun things that happen on the trip.  It may sound simple, but it’s helped immensely, especially with this trip craziness.  Not only did it help me not panic, but it also made the entire (long) experience more fun.  Even if it was something really small, if it lifted my mood, I recorded it.

1) After realizing that I couldn’t fly out until the evening, my mom and I went to Panera bread, where we had some yummy food with my favorite little puppy.

2) I fed a bird while I was eating!

3) Thankfully, I was able to check-in one of my carry-ons without paying anything. I was not looking forward to lugging it around for that 6 hour layover.

4) Once at Dallas, I was able to get on the skytrain to get to my gate location without getting lost (and on time).  As this was the first time I traveled completely alone, I find that quite the accomplishment.

5) I was pretty bummed to lose all of the window seats I had reserved for my previous flights, but I was happy to find that I had snagged an aisle seat for my nine-hour flight to London.  In the three person row, I was joined by an older lady from Scotland and a young man from Texas.  Thanks to both, the flight was full of laughs.

6) I managed to sleep on the nine-hour flight.  Can I get a round of applause?

7) The Texan man I sat next to actually helped me get to where I needed to go through border control.  He explained what would happen and where I would need to go afterwards.  To that man who I never actually got a name for: Thank You :)

8) If you’re close to me at all, you’ll know that I’ve been panicking about border control since I first heard about it.  I was so worried that I’d forget something and be sent back to Nebraska that I nearly had a panic attack every time I thought about it.  I probably looked ready to pee my pants when I walked up to the official.  Thankfully, it took a total of four minutes and I was free to enter the country.

9) I got to Skype my parents with my 45 free minutes of Wi-Fi (don’t get me started on that rip off).  We were cut-off, but it was great to just hear their voices for a bit.

10) During my Skype call I learned that my little brother scored the winning points at his Senior Homecoming Game.  Of course, this happens when I’m on a plane across the ocean, but I can’t be more proud of the kid.  Not only did he score in the final seconds of the game, he also helped beat a big rival for the team.  Go Trey-man!

11) I bought something with pounds and pences.  I was so worried about buying something with the new currency, but I managed to buy a water and gum pack, as well as a quick supper before leaving for my flight!

12) I was not able to make it in time to be picked up by the University, so I had to find my own way to get to Chester.  That's not the good news.  The good news is that I now know that I will never get a taxi ever by myself.  Never ever.  Mortifying experience, mind you.

13) Once arriving, two wonderful Global Guides helped carry my luggage to my room where I met my roommate and started to plan our next full day in Chester :D

This was quite the long post, but I had a lot to talk about in my travels here.  :)

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