Well hello there,
I made it. 7 days in Belgium was enough for my 7 hour jet lag to subside. They promised a day of recovery for each hour time difference and while at the time I thought the transition would be automatic, it wasn’t. I mean, nonstop nights of taking advantage of Belgium’s 24 hour bar situation likely didn’t help the situation, but why skip happy hour?
But I will backtrack to where it all began, the most stress-inducing aspect of study abroad so far –> ORD-DUB-BRU-hostel.
The obligatory family drop off at the international terminal of O’Hare went more smoothly than I anticipated.
No tears from my mom, no protests from my sister as I snuck her Lucky jeans across the pond (she still doesn’t know), and we even got my brother off the couch to join in the goodbyes. He dressed up for the occasion too, very impressed. He wore essentially boxers Bears shorts and a Giants t-shirt, though he did dress it up with Perry Ellis.
The slap happy state of us all as I gathered myself to walk through security was entertaining. Stevie, the constant traveler, threw in a funny one as he explained how to ‘airport’.
After picking up my ticket and checking my 48lb bag, he rattled off tips before he looked to security and said, “I’m not sure what’s beyond that”. ‘That’ being the wall blocking everything past the entrance of the international terminal I needed. Thanks dad. Unintentionally symbolic of the adventures ahead and also freaked me out as I’d never traveled alone, much less left the country and transferred planes.
Everything reminded me of my family as I traveled over to the other side of the sea. The Final Song blasted from behind a strange booth for a carnival with this smiley clown man as I walked toward my gate, reminding me of Bridget, who always blasts that song in the car for me. Colin and Bridget both metaphorically followed me onto the plane as I had only their playlists to listen to on airplane mode. I listened to plenty of Broccoli for the goofs.
Speaking of broccoli, after waiting close to 2 hours in line to pick a seat on the plane, I went off to buy some trail mix. My last meal in the states was epic.
As I found my seat on the Irish airline Aer Lingus, I realized I was surrounded by a sea of pale redheads. The flight attendants had clear accents and their politeness was on point. They also said wheely bag instead of suitcase and rubbish instead of garbage. It was pretty funny to me but I think I was the only one trying to hold back the giggles.
Mom showed up next. I turned on My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 and realized that Tula is my mom. 100%.
Also, the blankets. They were super soft and prime as I was being blasted by cold air the whole 6 hour 35 minute ride (shorter than anticipated). And no shame, I definitely texted my dad before we took off asking if I could keep the blanket after the flight or if that is a weird move. He didn’t answer in time, but it’s okay because he gave me a journal with donuts on the cover before I left and the note he wrote to me on the first page made me almost cry mid flight.
Back to movies though. They were free and I watched all of the 10 minute Irish short films first. They were pretty bad but I liked the brogues. After BFGW, it had to be The Departed because I needed a reassuring face and Mark Wahlberg always does the trick.
The seat was also quite comfy with a 5 star pillow on the lower back to ease the fact that you are sitting for way too long.
Remember the trail mix? Big regrets follow when you down 1/3lb of trail mix before realizing that they’ll be serving you multiple full meals throughout the flight and for free. This should have been announced before I bought my trail mix please.
While I did enjoy Aer Lingus and their pleasant staff, I do wonder their purpose of displaying the external temperature during the entire flight. I truly don’t need to know that it is -74F outside the plane. This is terrifying information. TMI
There was a cool map of the plane though, which displayed us flying over Canada and across the Atlantic. Wifi was announced at the start of the flight but also priced at $9.95/hr, which meant no wifi but bonding with the girl next to me instead.
We were both studying abroad, both first time international travelers and both from Wisconsin universities. This world is small. Though we were all too abruptly separated at our different terminals in Dublin airport, I hope Edinburgh is good to her.
Ireland, even from the airport and airplane, is now marked in my mind by the smell of old lady perfume and Irish Spring. I still remember the distinct whiffs as the flight attendants walked back and forth down the aisle. You could close your eyes and know they had passed and if it was a guy or a girl. Get ready.
Dublin airport is the airport of foodies dreams.
There are open display cases with huge filets of smoked salmon, plus all the soda breads, brown breads and stout breads you could want for around 2 euro. There is then a fancy deli counter with croissants to mark that you are definitely not in the US of A.
What other airport has a teeming chocolatier, a Victoria Secret and a gift shop of whiskeys. Yet, one negative marker that you are not in the states is the lack of outlets and lack of water fountains. Yes there is a row of charging stations but all are likely taken.
Boarding my plane from Dublin to Brussels was easy, though the plane ride was difficult because at this point the time difference was kicking in. Arriving in a country where it’s around 9am when your body is telling you it’s 2am and sleepy time was something new for me. It was an all-nighter that I never got back. The cool part was that I sat next to Alex from Orange is the New Black (not really though, just a doppelganger). She drank like no tomorrow with her bf, who continuously shifted past my aisle seat for the bathroom. You do you.
Upon arrival to Brussels airport, the timing couldn’t have been happier. I navigated the airport and the unnecessarily long trek to the hostel with my wheely bag in tow, which was quite the accomplishment on all the cobblestones.
Luckily my travel buddy made it to Brussels at the exact time as me, despite missing a connecting flight, which meant I didn’t need to navigate the metro and new city on my own.
Also, shout out to the kind old lady walking her cute dog who stopped to explain in French where we needed to go. It didn’t help much but the kindness from a local was much needed.
It’s difficult when street names are marked by a Dutch and a French name, and neither are even somewhat similar. Even better, Google maps doesn’t choose sides, so some are in French and some in Dutch. Where are we going, no idea.
To wrap it up with something life changing I read in one of the magazines in the back of the airplane seat:
-Stress can be good for you
-A wandering mind is an unhappy mind
-One action is worth a hundred thoughts
-Fake it till you make it
-What doesn’t kill me…