I woke up the day I was supposed to leave in slight shock that I actually had to get in the car, drive to O’Hare and physically get on a plane to leave the country for almost four months. I was all the right kinds of excited and nervous, heavily topped off with the anxiety of not packing the right things or leaving something important behind. However, in the midst of some frantic conversations with myself, I realized that I was leaving something behind- the old me, the “uncultured” me, the slightly close minded me.
As I said goodbye to my dog and my uncle who had happened to come by to wish me safe travels, I realized that leaving out the door meant the next time I walked through, I would be looking through new eyes and hopefully with a bigger heart and more educated mind. I drove to the airport in my very American, Ford SUV, and let my mind wonder. I was on edge about a number of things just as I was excited for others. The first was the obvious- missing home, the second was about all the riff raff that has decided to tangle our world into a web of cruelty, terrorism, and unspeakable violence. I was nervous to be in an area that was so closely located to the lands of the not so free.
I walked into the airport with my mom as my dad parked the car and met up with two other students going on the trip one happened to be my boyfriend (it sort of just worked out like that) and one was a girl that would become a fast friend, and my roommate (it also sort of just worked out like that). After praying that my luggage was under 50 pounds and shedding some tears saying goodbye to my parents, my classmates and I were on our way to the most exciting four months of our lives.
We got on a plane headed for Montreal, a connecting flight, and besides the fact that my ears and teeth (I had just gotten my wisdom monsters taken out of my mouth a couple weeks earlier) felt as if they were going to explode taking off and landing, it was a rather uneventful flight as I watched some rather uneventful TV shows. We landed and grabbed some lunch in Canada before boarding our plane to Athens. Suddenly, our zone was called, and we were shuffled onto a plane with a few of what looked like potential classmates.
We boarded and quickly fell asleep, and then it was time for some airplane food that was to be expected as average at best. They asked me pasta or chicken, I answered “pasta” and that’s when all hell broke loose. After dinner, 30 minutes into the movie, “Joy” I began to sweat, which was odd because I’m always and forever cold. I then began to feel slightly ill. I had gotten some type of food poisoning. The rest of the plane ride was uncomfortable and painful to say the least. I usually enjoy flying, but this time I enjoyed landing.
As we landed I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to get off the plane, almost losing sight of what was waiting for me on the other side of the terminal. As I walked out through a pair of sliding doors and saw my ride waiting for myself and the other students with a sign that read “American College of Greece, DEREE” I remembered that the adventure of a lifetime was about to begin and it was up to me to make the most of it.