The journey, part one

It was an absolute miracle that she had finally managed the packing. It had taken numerous elimination rounds but she finally had a set of clothes that she'd use for the coming year. Gosh, how on earth can you pack suitcases for a year anyway?

When she had been stuffing all her belongings in her suitcase with her mother, they had found that the wheel of the newly bought Samsonite was half broken off and about to fall off completely by the pressure of all the clothes. Visions of her underwear falling out at the tarmac turned her stomac around. Some phonecalls had been made to the store and also to the Samsonite factory which was only 10 min from her hometown anyway. After a nervous race in order to arrive at the store before closing time, they had been able to exchange the broken suitcase with one of better quality. And now it was late at night and she was ready. Ready to go to bed for the last time in a year in her own familiar bed. As if she'd be able to sleep.

The stress of leaving in the last weeks had resulted in multiple toilet visits, bad dreams etc, but her 8 year old dream would finally come through: she'd leave on a student exchange for one year to the other side of the world. She knew that she'd been inspired by her sister's enthousiastic stories and the great exchange student who had lived in their house before. She knew that her experiences would be different, maybe less good, hopefully better at some moments. She knew that some moments would be tough and that homesickness would be coming along as well. Now that her departure was so close, it was as exciting as it was extremely scary! Most of all it felt so unreal.

At the airport she had a serious look on her face and an big invisible nod in her stomac. When she gave her parents and sister a last hug before going through customs, tears welled up although she didn't want to cry when leaving. She didn't want them to think she was sad. She made sure that she waved enthousiastically with a big smile on her face when she crossed the brass line in the floor of the duty free section. That was the last spot were her family could see her walk away!

And then she was on her the big world of airports and flights that was unfamiliar to her. Even though she was 17, she had only flown once on a school trip and then she had just followed the crowd. Despite the advice her sister had given her multiple times, she promised herself to ask for instructions regularly at information desks regardless the fact that it might make her look like an idiot. The first flight to Frankfurt was very very short and she had four hours to transfer, so she relaxed a bit and listened to the conversation between 2 business men behind her talking about their mistress...Interesting start.

Once arrived in Frankfurt she started walking around in the hallway but she didn't see any signs for Air Canada. She walked up and down the hallway in which she had arrived, not knowing if she could walk 'too' far and exit accidentally. Convinced that she had to leave the hallway, she entered a very big hall with booths of multiple air companies. But there wasn't any Air Canada booth at all. She got confused about it. Her papers had clearly stated that she had to fly with Air Canada. Even the tv screens did not seem to show her flight. What was going on?
After a while she walked to the desk of Sabena to ask information. Sabena = Belgians = allies that would help a lost compatriot. They explained to her that she had to take a little skytrain to go to another building. Oops, she hadn't even realised that there were multiple buildings. In order to kill the time, she took that train up and down 6 times before checking in in the other terminal but the novelty of this pass-time wore off quickly. Finally she sat time in front of the gate where she waited while trying not to fall asleep. She was afraid to fall asleep.

Phewww, so far so good. She was on her way to the other side of the world. Once seated well, she engaged into a polite general conversation with the German man next to her. He seemed to understand her poor German well enough to keep the conversation going for a while after which he concentrated reading his newspaper again. Only 8 more hours to go....Food got served, they talked a bit more.

Then all of a sudden the man got up and went to talk to a stewardess and they disappeared towards the front of the airplane. A minute later a steward rushed to the back of the airplane , only to return with the first aid box. The man had not returned to his place yet. She didn't think too much of it yet and continued watching the movie. But then the movie got interrupted ...."if there is a doctor on board, please report to the flight staff".
She looked towards the empty seat next to her and then around, but nobody got up. She felt that it had to do with the man next to her and she wondered what was going on.

Fifteen minutes later, the movie got interrupted once more "Please, if there is a doctor on board, please report to the flight staff". The emptyness of the seat next to her seemed to grow and push into her space. She couldn't help wondering what happens if someone dies during a flight? be continued

If you want to read more soap opera stories, check out Brillig or walking kateastrophe, to find other participants.


anno said…
OK, I'm more than a little curious about the fate of your fellow-passenger... but I also hope we get to hear more of your year abroad!
Awesome. Can't wait to read more from you!! Hi, I'm Mishi!
Kateastrophe said…
Woah!! I'm dying to hear the end over here!!
Fourier Analyst said…
Oooooh, scary! What a frightening beginning for a teenager just entering the big wide world. Hope you weren't scarred for life!!

Looking forward to next week!
Brillig said…
OH MY GOSH!!!! What a way to leave us hanging! Crazy!

And I flew across the world all by myself when I was a teenager once. It was crazy, because I'd grown up travelling and airports were no stranger to me. And yet... when you're travelling alone, it's SO much more confusing! Especially when there are foreign languages involved, etc. Wow! What a story!

And I'm so glad you're back!!!
nell said…
I'm on the edge of my seat...

and yes, you were about five miles from my house when you were here.:)
Dedee said…
Wow. I can't wait to see what happens next. Wow!
Thalia's Child said…
Oh my goodness!! This is definitely a story I want to know the end of!!
Kate said…
Accckkk! Gorgeous set-up, wonderful way to leave us hanging! Can't wait for next week's installment! :)
Jen said…
This is an intriguing start. I hope he was okay eventually! You may know that I've hosted 5 exchange students and my DS is now taking German with the idea of doing an exchange year in Germany (maybe). I'd LOVE to hear more about your exchange year!

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