Saturday, June 7, 2014

Traveling Solo: My Little International Adventure

So I have people wanting to hear in detail how my trip from Romania to Ohio went. Here's the shortened version:
The drive from Hunedoara to Timisoara consisted of Ioana (my Romanian bestie) and I sitting next to each other while giggling over old memories, private jokes, and emoting to Frozen songs. (Our other three friends, Alyssa, and my parents thought we were nuts, I think.) The picture above is our second selfie attempt because the first one had me sporting a lovely double chin, which made us both giggle some more. (And yes, it was really dark.)

After leaving the house at around two AM, we arrived at the airport with over an hour to spare before my 6:25 flight. I'm afraid we did procrastinate a little with the goodbyes, so many photos were taken and hugs given. (I'm totally fine with the hugs, but pictures at that hour?! And with my messy hair? Goodness!)

Just before going through security, Ioana asked, "Are you ready to admit that you are a cyborg?" (I previously went to Scotland and set off three out of four scanners.) I replied, "No, but if I do set off the scanners this time I will." Then I immediately set off the scanner. While the nice Romanian lady patted me down, I couldn't help but grin. Yeah, cyborg.

While standing in line for the flight, I shot up a prayer to God. "Lord," I prayed, "I want this to be an adventure, even though I have never flown internationally on my own." Then something cool happened. I heard English with American accents! 

The guys were talking about Jesus and extreme sports. I didn't want to eavesdrop, but I just couldn't help it. When one of them left for his flight, I found my opportunity and asked them what they were in Romania for. They told me that they were teaching people around the world how to do extreme sports with church youth. Totally neat. They got on my flight but sat so far behind me that I didn't see them again. 

My next stop was Germany. It was so foggy that we landed late and my next flight was late. Thankfully, I found my gate an hour before, although I was a little confused because the paper said Newark New Jersey and the gate said New York. I was then informed that I was going to the right place in Jersey that was in New York. Talk about confusing. Oh, and the body scanner? I set that off, too. Hello, drug test.

The flight to Newark actually arrived early. That was a nice surprise. The landing though... I honestly was wondering if the pilot had ever landed before. The whole thing bounced and vibrated so bad that I was watching the roof of the plane ripple like rough ocean waves. Crazy. I praised Jesus when we finally came to a stop.

Newark was nice. It wasn't the size of most of the airports I arrive in, but it seemed to be more streamlined and efficient. I hand-transferred my bags smoothly and made it through customs without a hitch. The border officer even welcomed me back home. And then I immediately got a mango Jamba Juice. :D

Unfortunately, my last flight was to arrive an hour later than I had calculated, so I really needed to contact my friend who was picking me up. Sadly, you had to pay to use the internet, but by some miraculous grace, I accidentally connected to Facebook. I managed to hold a conversation with her and a few other people who were concerned about me before intentionally signing off so that I would stop mooching off their wi-fi. Then I sat down by the gate and, while I was playing my DS, felt eyes on me. And it wasn't a pleasant sensation. I knew it was the guy across from me, but I didn't want to look at him. But after ten agonizing minutes, I had to look. And, yes, he was looking at me with a strange smile. His friend was trying to keep his attention, but the guy was distracted. The first thoughts that went through my mind weren't pleasant or encouraging, so I decided it was best to remove myself from that environment. I think it was about then that my gate was switched to the one adjacent, so I got up and sat down in front of this lovely old black couple. They were so cute! I fell in love with them immediately and wanted to talk to them, but they were acting so shy that I just couldn't think of an opening. The wife nudged her husband, pointing at my laptop sticker (which has the first verse of Amazing Grace on it). I knew they wanted to ask me about it and then it occurred to me: I'd ask them what time it was. That was just the opening they needed. So we had a brief, nice chat. (Actually, that might have happened before the Wi-Fi incident, but it's hard to keep track sometimes the order of events.)

So, finally, I made it to Ohio. To be honest, it was the most amazing sight I'd seen in a long time. I think Ohio is one of the most beautiful places on earth. And I'm so happy to be able to spend the year here! But be forewarned: I'm booked for the summer. So forgive me if I can't write often. I'll make it up to you all when it's over.

Until then, I hope you enjoyed my little adventure. I hope I didn't leave anything out.... Oh, did I mention that I set off every scanner on the trip? I probably did. But it bears repeating.

So the main idea of this story is:

Yes, I'm a cyborg.