Well it happened. I left the big LV and am now seated semi comfortably on my Air New Zealand flight to Heathrow airport. But let me tell you, this was not an easy journey. It began with a quick flight from Vegas to LA. And that’s when the suck kicked into high gear.
See, I am an overpacker. I originally had one large rolling suitcase, one small rolling suitcase, a carryon and a backpack. Then 20 minutes before we left for the airport, I realized I couldn’t carry all of that, so I condensed the small suitcase into the large one. But back to the story…
So I arrived in LA and got my enormous 75-pound bag (oh yeah, I’m paying all the extra weight costs) and booked it over to the international terminal in 80 degree weather, which did not agree with my London-ready outfit of long sleeves and leggings. The study abroad office really emphasized that if you are not 3 hours early to your flight you will miss it and die, and I was already an hour late. It was pandemonium.
Here is where I learned my first travel lesson of the trip: just because you’re on an international flight doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the international terminal.
Upon this discovery, I was forced to double back past where I’d come from and the length of the entire terminal after. People were staring at me because I assume watching a girl dragging a suitcase the size of Rhode Island behind her is somehow engrossing. When I finally arrived at the proper airline counter, I was informed by a man with lovely New Zealand accent that not only was my bag overweight, but the airline can’t even accept bags that are the size of my bag. Everything is weighed in kilos, and I was four kilos over. I don’t even know what that converts to in pounds. Also, apparently it’s a thing for foreign airlines to weigh your carry ons, and of course, that was also overweight. And I wasn’t supposed to have two.
So there I was sitting on the floor in front of the check-in counter, ripping various items out of my bag and stuffing them into my already overweight carry on, feeling like the most clueless traveler on the planet and wondering if I could physically carry four more kilos with me onto the plane because I straight up do not know what that would feel like.
I think the guy started to feel bad for me and he let me go after putting a shameful red “HEAVY” tag on my suitcase. So lesson two: always check the airline’s policy on baggage. Always. And lesson three: you may be leaving the country for five months, but try not to pack so many clothes.
At this point I was really over the whole going to London thing, but I had no choice but to trudge through security with those extra kilos. I exchanged some dollars for British pounds, which was extra depressing because the exchange rate is horrific, bought a sandwich because I totally forgot about lunch, called my mom to complain and then called AT&T to shut off my cell phone line. I started to get that feeling like maybe I should go home because so far I was not enjoying this experience all that much and I hadn’t seen anyone from my program around which maybe was a sign. Then, I met a nice girl named Christina who goes to Berkeley and is studying abroad in Bristol. She was telling me about her program and how she had to find her own way there and she didn’t know anyone going with her and she was going to have to live in a house with seven girls in a place that was described to her as having “a lot of hills.”
So I stopped feeling sorry for myself and got on the plane. I walked past some really awesome one-person-per-row seats, some slightly less awesome two-people-per-row seats and then arrived at seat 52K in the very normal looking back of the plan. I watched a very interesting Hobbit-themed airline safety video because Air NZ refers to themselves as the official airline of Middle Earth. There were appearances by Gollum and a horse named Snowflake according to the end credits (yeah, this video had credits) and it was kind of suggestive which was weird for a place that provides so little personal space.
Now it’s been three hours and I think we’re somewhere over Ohio but that’s just a guess. They shut off all the lights, but it’s literally 7pm so I’ve just been hanging out, watching the first season of Girls, which I like so far, and writing this saga that essentially took place over the course of an hour.
I think I’ve had enough adventure for one day, but there are still 8 hours to go! I guess I’ll post this when I land because Middle Earth has no WiFi. See ya in London!
Sounds like quite an ordeal! Missed you call on viber today…. Microphone now on so please try again. Can’t wait to talk to you😄
Hi Chels! Since this is posted, I guess that means that you have arrived. I think that “culture shock” includes all things like Kilos, baggage limits, etc. I hope that you are able to laugh at some of your experiences. Thats’ what traveling is all about! Have fun!!