It's been 167 hours since I landed at O'Hare Airport in Chicago after a rather harrowing experience. Let me tell you some of the things I've learned.
1. No matter how much you give away, you will still have too much in your suitcase.
2. Priorities make themselves abundently clear when you have 10 minutes to lose 7 kilograms of stuff. Goodbye, shoes, cosmetics, pillow, and blanket. I'll miss you.
3. You could have spent more time carefully planning what to throw away, because the airline isn't sure that they should let you on the plane with that cast.
4. People in an airport will ask anyone for advice... I'm quite clearly not an airline executive, but sitting behind a desk warrents all kinds of questions.
5. They do NOT mess around with security in the Bucharest airport... Dublin is somewhat different.
6. Every plane to ever depart from OTP will be delayed.
7. If you are getting wheelchair assistance, you will be wheeled into the back of a semi trailer, and driven across the runway and then wheeled into the plane through the cargo entrance.
8. The lovely Irish accent will make everything better. From the airline attendants to the wheelchair assistance lad Sean, it's difficult to get upset with the Irish.
9. Americans are obnoxious the world over. I'm sorry, Mr. California. But just because you went to Germany instead of Amsterdam doesn't mean you are a world traveller. And sleeping on a park bench whilst drunk and high doesn't mean that you got a "real European experience." Stop trying to arm wrestle people and then talk about how you could "take" anyone you wanted in high school. Take your flipping sunglasses off, and don't brag about how you've not bathed in 3 weeks. And do you really travel with your own plasic wine glasses? Take it from someone who got the real European experience... you should be able to drink wine out of whatever is available.
10. The Dublin airport is lovely, but those lights are BRIGHT at 4:30 in the morning.
11. Someone is going to notice that you need help when you are standing on one leg with two bags, staring at the flight board for 20 minutes. Do they really have to put CANCELLED in big block letters? They could say it in a nicer way, I think.
12. Having a broken ankle can work in your favor... pleading my case for why I should get onto the standby list first, getting escorted through security (totally could have blown that plane up... I barely got frisked) and customs by the lovely Irish Richard (who called me love, mhmm), and seated early on the plane... it worked out alright.
13. Having a broken ankle can be ridiculously stupid on a plane, because it will HURT. You know how your legs swell anyway in flight? There is no comfortable postion, and you therefore will keep not sleeping.
14. Ted from Ireland is a very nice man who will tolerate you crying (nearly) on his shoulder about four times in the course of a 9 hour point of contact.
15. Arriving in the United States is beautiful, but hearing that your parents are not at the airport is kind of painful. Thank you, communication mixup- my fault entirely.
16. Warm and friendly relatives are incredible... but visiting people you've only met a few times in your life after skipping DAYS of sleep and traveling for nearly 30 hours is a bit overwhelming.
17. You will want to cry when you see your mom and dad for the first time. Because they will take care of you, and you can stop being so strong for a while.
18. The I-80 stretch from Chicago to Michigan is still long.
19. It might take a while to sleep normally again.
20. Home people are wonderful, incredible really. But you will still miss belonging somewhere else.