International travel, or any time you had to go to the airport I’ve heard, used to be an occasion. Men would wear suits and children their Sunday best because that is what you did to travel. And now as we cruise through the air at 30,000 feet people wear leggings, Uggs, and hoodies. Comfort has trumped respect for the occasion. But that’s fair for international travel, those flights are long and if you are in coach they are cramped and at times smell really bad.
So, the morning of Sunday August 26, 2012 I dawned my black jeans, blue scarf and heaviest sweater. I ate breakfast with my parents at my favorite Cuban cafe in Tampa for my last taste of Cuban toast and café con leche that would soon be replaced by baguettes and café crèmes. And I broke down crying in a Walgreens while buying pictures of my family, this was not my most shining moment but I stand by my nerves because what was coming was a huge step. Unable to comprehend anything but the immediate fear of leaving everything I had known behind for four months, I cried. Sue me. The morning was rough but I said goodbye to my parents and boarded to shuttle to the terminal for the first leg of my trip.
Tampa to Detroit
I can’t say much about this flight because I have largely forgotten it. There was an easy take off and landing, I slept most of the way, and I wasn’t concerned about anyone around. However, I am sure there were a mixed bag of feelings because a girl was crying on a domestic two hour flight. I’m not scared of flying, and I’ve travelled alone before. But I hadn’t realized how scared I was to leave and start my semester abroad. I spent most of the summer in bliss because I knew I would be in France soon enough and as I mentioned before, I still kind of thought the whole thing was a joke. But on that flight I realized months worth of apprehensions and woes. Somehow I slept, and got settled at my gate in Detroit. I talked to both my parents, my brother, and my best friends Jenna and Claire. My 3 hour layover went by quickly and before I knew it I was turning off the data and text messaging on my phone and pulling out my boarding pass and passport.
Detroit to Paris-Charles De Gaulle
Now if you know a little French or rather pulled up GoogleTranslate for the title of this entry, you might have been surprised by the meaning of “Bon merde.” It means “Good Shit” and in France they say this rather than “Bon Chance” to mean Good Luck! And luck is indeed what you need when flying internationally on Delta Airlines.
I brought my journal on the plane with me and made a few observations while cruising at 33,000 feet:
-NOTE: Bring socks or slippers on long flights…apparently your feet swell.
-Didn’t realize it gets so cold so high in the atmosphere, -42 degrees outside!!
-On a 2-3-2 aircraft, opt for the aisle of a 2seat side
That last observation needs more explanation. I flew to France in an aisle seat of the 3 section. Luckily no one fat or with a baby was in the middle seat. However, I realized that people flying with small children buy seats in the 3 sections because a) kids are small so you can move them around and still have room and b)parent’s apparently don’t want strangers sitting next to/sleeping next to their small children. Now I said I wasn’t sitting next to a child, which is true but I never said anything about my surrounding crowd… Obviously there was a baby on board. Two parents with a kid in the midst of their terrible twos were convienently located right behind me and kicked the back of my seat for about 2 straight hours.
PSA: Don’t travel with beings that cry, kick, or scream. It’s just not a good time.