Saturday, January 10, 2015

Third time's the charm

4 airplanes.
4 cities.
3 flights.
3 airports.
3 days.
3 airports.
An Amtrak train, a car, a taxi, and two shuttles.
A night at a friend's in Staten Island
A night at a hotel in Newark.
Too many lines. Literally, hours of waiting in lines.
1 outfit.
No toothbrush.
An explosion.
One trip to Belgium.

After a nice relaxing holiday in Ohio, the time came to return to Belgium for the spring semester. Little did I know that it would take a lot more to get there than I bargained for. On Tuesday morning, I flew to Philadelphia to then fly to Newark, or so I thought. Due to snow, my flight to Philly was delayed, but my connecting flight to Newark was supposed to be fine. After landing in Philly, no flights seemed to be leaving, so the time of our departure kept getting pushed further and further back. After four hours of waiting, US Airways cancelled the flight to Newark, which meant I would miss my flight to Belgium. In panic. I called my university coordinator and travel agent in order to book another flight. Of course, I know no one in Philly and my new flight leaves tomorrow night from Newark, so I need a place to stay for the night. While waiting in the US Airways line for almost two hours, I texted a friend on Staten Island to see if I could stay the night with her and I would take the Amtrak to New Jersey. Thankfully, my angel of a friend offered to pick me up and allowed me to spend the night. US Airways was of no help and wouldn't pay for my Amtrak or a hotel or anything really, so I proceeded to get my bags from the baggage claim. Of course, they wouldn't give me my bags, saying that they would be sent to Newark. This meant that I would not have any clean clothes, or a toothbrush. Nothing. After this, I took a driver with two other students to the Amtrak Station where we rode to New Jersey. My friend picked my up and we spent the night at her house, catching up and seeing some of her friends. Overall, it was a good day, minus all of the stress from traveling.

On Wednesday afternoon, my friend and her mom and I grabbed lunch at the diner before they took me to the airport. They also took me to the airport the first time I went to Belgium, so it seemed only fitting. After making my way through security, I sat by my gate and proceeded to study for my exams. Due to something freezing on the plane, there was a delay with boarding and takeoff. However, this didn't bother me, since I was finally on my way to Belgium and I could watch a movie while we waited on the runway. (I watched "Boyhood" which was superb.) Eventually, we were cleared for takeoff. Just as the plane left the ground, a huge flash of fire erupted over the right window and the plane fell down onto the runway after being in the air for a few feet. No one panicked, but we knew something was wrong. In my gut, I knew I wouldn't be going to Belgium on this aircraft. In the calm of the aircraft, we waited for the call from the captain, while emergency crews inspected the plane, According to the captain, the engine on the right wind blew up and we were deplaned.  No flight to Belgium for me. After deplaning (such an odd term), we waited at the United counter to see what would happen next. I made another call to my coordinator and told her I would keep her posted. We ended up waiting in this line for over three hours, since I was one of the last to get off the plane. United booked us a new flight the following day, a flight just for us, as well as giving me a hotel room and a meal voucher. After over seven hours of waiting in lines and waiting on the plane, I arrived in my hotel room at 1:30, again with no other clothes or a toothbrush, since my bags were checked for my final destination. In the time I had been waiting, I could have been in Brussels by then. I spent more time waiting in lines that I did anything else. At least I had a bed and a shower to rest from another eventful day.

After sleeping in Thursday morning, I met with a few women from my flight for breakfast. I had no one else with me, so I made friends with my fellow stranded passengers and we talked about how crazy this entire situation was. After relaxing in the hotel for the afternoon, we took a shuttle to the airport in hopes to finally get to Belgium. After passing through security and grabbing some Chinese food, we found ourselves a the gate with all of our fellow travelling friends. Boarding the plane, I hoped that this would be the lucky time. Since this wasn't a full flight, I got two seats to myself, which was a full row. Miraculously, this plane actually took off!  I lounged in the comfort of my row, watching movies, studying, eating, and attempting to sleep. After a few short hours, we made our bumpy landing into Brussels early in the morning. People were shockingly more upset about turbulence than they were about the flames on our previous flight.Without a hitch, I grabbed my bags and the Snow Doctors retrieved me from the airport and I made my way home. Finally.

Honestly, I never thought getting to Belgium would be so hard. I never thought I would do it all on my own. I never thought I would have to do so many things just to make one flight. Even though this was a major inconvenience, I never cried or really felt bad. I felt stressed and that I was inconveniencing a lot of people and myself, bu tI couldn't help that. All I could do was laugh and just see it as a part of the adventure that is travelling through life. While I never hope to do it again, it sure makes a hell of a good story.


  1. That is what student exchanges are about, to overcome yourself again and again... the feeling at the end, when you succeeded is wonderful. You will see ;)

    Welcome back =)

  2. love your new blog photo (and you!) :)