The journey began with a tear-soaked goodbye at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. My parents dropped me off bright and early in the day to see me off on my grand adventure. We shared a solemn car ride with departing words and suppressed sobs. I thought that this emotionally ridden time would be the hardest part of my journey, little did I know…
My first plane left Minneapolis for Boston Logan International Airport. (In case you wanted to know the irrelevant details: I watched The Book Club [an A-1 film] and had Delta Airline’s irresistible cookies!) This flight went smoothly and without trauma. I arrived at Boston (an airport I had never flown to before) at 4:30 in the afternoon. As always, I immediately checked the board for my next flight’s gate information when I arrived inside. It said the “7:10pm flight to Paris” was in Terminal A. Since I was already in Terminal A, I took my merry time having a burger for dinner and making my way over to the gate. At 5:40pm, thinking I was more than prepared, I strolled over to the gate only to realize…. IT WASN’T MY FLIGHT!!! Oddly enough, there were to “7:10pm flights to Paris” at Boston that night, and mine was across the airport :O
I had thirty minutes to run across the airport and catch my next flight, but here’s the catch. At Boston, the terminals are not connected. If you have to switch terminals between connecting flights, you have to go through TSA once again. Which means you’re not getting over very quickly! Panicked, I shoved my way through TSA faster than I ever have and literally ran across the airport to get to Terminal E where my correct “7:10pm flight to Paris” was now boarding. What luck? (Once again for irrelevant details: I watched Game Night and Dirty Dancing [both mediocre films] and had a small bottle of Chardonnay and a pasta dinner with mango cake.)
As always, I was unable to sleep on my flight. Why is it so hard for me to catch some Z’s when sitting in the upright position? Advice, anyone? Therefore, I arrived at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport at what felt like 2am to me with no sleep. I was nervous to tackle this gigantic maze of an airport by myself, but I was granted help by chance. The man sitting next to me on the flight, we’ll call him John, was a returning professor at Bordeaux University and an EXPERT at the CDG airport. He offered to help me get through the place as quickly as possible because our gates were next to each other. Therefore, I got to pass through border control with the benefit of his ‘sky priority’ status. Très cher! I was through French border patrol within thirty minutes and seated at my gate. Thank God for John.
There, I met my group of fellow study abroad students. We had three hours to wait for our final flight down to Montpellier. Of course, we were all cranky and exhausted, but were chatting with excitement about our new adventure. I wish the luck I had had in CDG could’ve carried over later in the day but…
When we arrived at Aéroport Montpellier Méditerranéen, my luck vanished. The time felt like 5:30 in the morning to my American brain (over 17 stressful hours since my family had dropped me off), and needless to say, I was not ready for any problems to ensue. However, as we gathered at baggage claim and everyone grabbed their suitcases, I regarded as mine NEVER came. The airline lost my luggage. My nine months of belongings that are meant to carry me through my study abroad were lost somewhere between Minneapolis and Montpellier. Quel horreur! I had to attempt to explain my problem to a frustrated airport employee who spoke no English, while believe me my French was at its worst. We finally communicated the problem enough to report the baggage as lost. She said it would be delivered to my host family’s home as soon as possible.
Until then, I had to accept in all my grogginess, that I would be living for an indefinite amount of time with only the possessions in my carry on backpack. I have two outfits, deodorant, face wipes, and books. Enough for two days. An absolute disaster.
For anyone considering study abroad, I definitely advise the following things to make your journey more flawless than mine:
-Book your entire flight in one transaction. I booked my flights from Minneapolis to Paris and from Paris to Montpellier separately which ensued a couple of problems.
-Bring two carry on bags so that one can have your entertainment stuff (books, laptop, etc) and one can have spare clothing (JUST IN CASE your luggage is lost as well).
-Study your connecting airports ahead of time so you don’t find yourself scrambling like I did in Boston.
-Find a way to effectively sleep on planes!