My journey starts off at O’Hare, where I am unknowingly looking at the ticket of my connecting flight and trying to find my way to Gate A- which doesn’t exist. You wonder how terrorists get in? I showed the lady at security the wrong ticket and i still got by.
After wandering, I figure out my gate and head to the opposite side of the airport, where I immediately meet my travel companion David Riley, who teaches me things in German to piss them off. I like him instantly and am pleased when he is seated in front of me next to a 27 year JAG girl who wonders how old I am and bores me with how 918 people applied for the JAG internship when she was in law school, and only 112 of them got it. She had three job offers from the CIA and one from the FBI so I make sure to be pleasant and pretend to listen.
My first view of Germany was of a plane wing. Because that was all I could see until I craned my neck to see the glittering lights out the window behind me. Even then, I could have been circling Chicago for eight and a half hours, because here, it was 6:15am, 11:15pm Chicago time. At this point I’d like to give a shout out to my parents and their wonderful bottle of sleeping pills, which allowed me to sleep 8 hours out of the 8.5 hour flight, leaving the JAG lawyer next to me jealous as she struggled to sleep 2 through the loud cries of several babies. Now I would like to thank the maker of these wonderful pills, as I was dead to the world.
About 6 hours into the flight I awoke with a start, the right wing had somehow been completely destroyed. We took a slow right turn downward, and began a slow spiraling decent to the ocean. I panicked, wondering what the survival rate was, decided I was going to die, but grabbed the air mask that had dropped in front of me and wondered if there were rafts. I awoke with a start in my seat, looked around and realized it was a dream. Then the captain came over the intercom, told us there was a problem with the wing and we were going to start descending at rapid rate and stay calm. I thought “Jesus”, and then for a second time awoke, because I’d be dreaming in a dream. When I awoke for real, there was a bunch of food stuffed in the pocket in front of me, and I thought, yay for the JAG girl from Denver for getting me breakfast.
When I stepped off the plane, I noted that my dad was right, and the German’s don’t exactly stay up to date with handicap policy. I looked at the man and his cane next to me as he stared in defeat, threw my baggage over my shoulder and trudged up a large set of stairs.
Before I left, half the people who had traveled abroad in other countries told me I should really get a Visa. Grim told me no, that was not necessary. As I walked up to show my passport I wondered if I should get all my other paperwork, and prayed they would let me in the country with just my letter from school and my feeble map for the cab driver. I’d like to let you know at this point, that I have yet to make it to my apartment, so I have no idea whether or not the address is correct or if anyone will even be home.
Surprisingly, I’ve been asked more questions about what I’m doing when I go to Canada. I walked right through customs. Apparently the Germans don’t care why you are entering the country, or what your plans are there, but they do have a lot of men standing around with large, large, large guns- so at the very least I’m going to behave until I get out of the airport.
Also, for anyone traveling to a foreign country in the future, pack your external hard drive in your checked baggage. IT LOOKS LIKE A BOMB. Try to explain “hard drive” in English. It makes no sense when you say ‘it’s part of my laptop” when you have to go through security again.
At this point I say goodbye to my new American friends- the JAG lawyer who brags too much, and David Riley, the wonderfully nice and entertaining although not to bright army boy headed to southern Germany and suggested I visit his base and wandered off to my new gate, where I am now seated.