The day of travel
My emotions are all over the place. I’m excited, sad, nervous, proud, happy… I feel like I can take over the world but I also have a strong urge to hide behind my parents backs. My family and I are sitting in the airport in København (Copenhagen). The clock is between 4 and 4:30 in the morning. My hands are firmly holding a folder a woman from the AFS gave me a few minutes earlier. The folder contains all the important papers I will need throughout the next day (plane tickets, a handbook that’s given to all students who travel to the Dominican Republic, a plan for the day, and a paper with all the flights’ take-offs).
We are all looking nervously around the airport. Our eyes seek my travel friend and companion. Her name is Emilie and she is also an exchange student who is going to stay in the Dominican Republic. Emilie and I were told to meet up at 7/11 in the airport at 4:30. The time is well past the meeting time when she shows up. She is giving a folder like mine and is told to read it.
After a few minutes, we (Emilie, the woman and I) are on our way to check our luggage in. My hearts start to really and my palms starts to get sweaty. I begin to realise that I’m beginning to get very nervous. I try to relax and clear my mind, but without success. Emilie is the first to check her luggage in. This happens without any complications and her bag disappears.
Now it’s my turn. The maximum weight for a bag is 23 kilos. I struggle a bit to get the heavy bag up on the bond. My heart drops when I see a line on a sign that says: 25 KILOS. I immediately start to panic start to panic. But but I made sure to weigh it multiple times at home… There must have been a mistake… Now I’m never going to the Dominican Republic… Stupid scale it’s the scales fault!… Just like my emotions now my thoughts are also all over the place. I look up and see the woman behind the counter’s lips moving. Realising that she has been talking to me I listen. “if you don’t want to put anything in your carry on it will be 100 dollars” she says. (That’s easy for you to say, when there isn’t any room in my carry on! I stuffed it completely full at home). I think. I conclude that I must speak with someone (meaning my parents). So, I reply to her: “I will be back in a moment”.
Desperate for some time to think I walk towards my parents. As soon as my eyes catch theirs the tears starts to slowly fall down my face. Normally I wouldn’t at such a small obstacle. The mixture of not sleeping, having to say goodbye to everything I know suddenly becomes too much for me. My mom and dad quickly realises something is wrong asks “what’s wrong?”. They look from me to my luggage as I explain them that my luggage is too heavy. My dad says right away “we will pay”. Relief runs through me. Everything is going to be okay I think as we stagger back to the evil woman (mind you that she isn’t evil but I suddenly thought she was). My dad pays and my back too disappears through the dark hole.
The AFS woman says “10 minutes to say goodbye and then it’s off you go”. I thought I was going to cry. And guess what? I did. Fresh tears blended with the old tears on my face. This is the strangest and hardest thing I have ever done. I hugged everyone twice (my mom, dad, sister, brother and Vibe). I say, “I love you” to everyone and they say it in return. Before we can cry more the woman asks me if I am ready to go. Do I look like I’m ready!? I say “yes” because half of my is ready and the other half just want to take the first ferry home and hide in the safety of my bed. And, because it’s not an option to say no. I am waving a final goodbye, before I turn my back to everything I know.
Emilie and I go through security smoothly and before I realise it I am high up in the air on my way to Paris. When we land, I discover how big Charles de Gaulle is. It is big, like gigantic. There is a swarm of people everywhere. All the kids are looking excited around the airport to try and take all the new impressions in. Emilie and I are having a hard time finding our terminal. We pace from one end of the airport to the other (or that’s what we thought). After talking to at least five different people around the airport we figure out that this is only one part of the airport. Confused we now walk onto a bus (a bus to take people to different parts of the airport! See I told you it was big). Emilie and I finally finds our terminal.
Now that we are relaxed we do the most reasonable thing to do and that’s to find the nearest Starbucks and get a cup of coffee. Emilie asks me if I am sure that there even is a Starbucks and I simply reply “of course there is a Starbucks. Where there is tired and exhausted people you can always find a Starbucks or/and a McDonalds” right? Still not fully convinced Emilie is now following me on my mission. We are walking for a few minutes when I spot the green logo. Aha! I burst out happily. But here is a problem: the line is freaking long. We take one glance at the line and decide to go grab a sandwich instead. We get our sandwiches and head back to Starbucks (still wanting and needing a coffee). To our reliefs, the line is disappeared and we go and get our coffees. Now caffeinated and fully human again we go back to our terminal. A girl our age comes up to us and says to us in Norwegian “Are you from AFS to and are you guys also travelling to the Dominican Republic? We answer “yes” to both questions. She is very sweet and we talk for the rest of the time until our flight takes off.
To my pleasure, I see that there is a screen on the back off every seat. You can watch movies, listen to music, etc. The next 11 and half hours flew by and suddenly we are looking down upon beautiful beaches and forests. I start to panic (again!). I am going to be here for a year and I don’t know anybody or the language! I try to calm myself and say it’s going to be alright (as far as I know Emilie doesn’t seem worried). Our plane lands and we get out of the flight to go through security to get back on the same plane again. Confused as why we had to get off the plane takes off. After a few minutes, we find ourselves in the capital, Santo Domingo. Emilie and I meet with the AFS. We are told to go outside and get into some minibuses that will takes us to a house. When I step outside the weather is very different than what I expected.