Home at Last.
May 21, 2012 § 5 Comments
Oh the joys of traveling.
After living and traveling so much in Europe throughout the year (especially in Italy), few travel hiccups can phase me.
Traveling in such extremes has taught me that with patience and a good attitude things usually turn out just fine. And if I think of traveling as an adventure rather than a chore, it makes it all the more fun.
I have arrived safely back in home to the Golden State and in my opinion, everything went well. But looking back, the trip was a bit hectic. Thank goodness for patience + a good attitude (yes, I am totally that peppy girl that is incredibly annoying when all else are in a bad mood) I survived the 20-hour journey!
I started my journey at 3am Copenhagen-time as my plethora of luggage and I took a taxi to the airport. Of course I was willing to try my luck at the night bus-metro-airport route, however after my father insisted I take a cab (and he agreed to pay for it) so I gave in.
Even at such an early hour, the Nordic sun was already illuminating the clouds bringing light to the night and allowing me to say goodbye to Copenhagen. From Østerbro, to Central Copenhagen and out through Amager, I gave the city one last wave goodbye while holding back tears.
I arrived at the airport way ahead of schedule to find the airport almost empty and my flight to Frankfurt already delayed three hours. I had to wait an hour for the airport service desk to open and figure out my fate. After a long line and long process of flight-shuffling, I was placed on a new flight and my extra bag was complimentary thanks to the confusion!
Because of the flight cancellation, I arrived in Frankfurt an hour later than planned. With only 50 minutes before my plane to SFO was to take off and I had an obstacle course of customs, passport control and security to jump through before boarding that plane, timing was tight. And naturally, there hundreds of people and an hour-plus line to get through before.
With my calm demeanor and sweet face, I made friends with a pushy professor from Stanford on the same flight to SFO as me. She was hysterical that we would miss the flight and be stuck in Frankfurt forever (just a little dramatic). Despite our differences, I became friends with her and tailgated her as she demanded her way through the security lines. We arrived at the gate just in time as last passengers were boarding. As I scanned my ticket I let out a sigh of relief and looked forward to a long nap on the 11-hour flight.
I boarded the world’s largest commercial plane, the Airbus A380, and admired its size, two-seating decks and seating for 525 people. After long line of waiting to find my seat, I found my number 60C empty and waiting for me.
I then looked to the right of my seat to see three smiling individuals sharing the row with me– mom, dad, and one-year old baby. I then notice the three-year old sitting behind me, already chatting up a storm and kicking my seat. And in the aisle across from me, a wide-eyed toddler that does not look like he is going to sleep anytime soon.
Great, I thought, I am in the kids section!
I began calculating how powerful my noise-cancelling headphones are and exactly how loud I could play music to drown out these children’s’ screams.
I loaded my oversized backpack full of the 10+ sketchbooks and journals I did not want to check in the overhead compartment and organize the rest of my belongs underneath my seat. I decided to make the most of the situation and begin chatting with the father of the one-year-old to my right. I learned the family had already been traveling for 10+ hours from India and the baby slept that entire flight…leaving little hope that she will sleep throughout this leg of the journey.
However, I quickly made friends with the family and find this big-brown-eyed little girl absolutely adorable. We made a game of high-fives and waving to each other and were suddenly allies. To my surprise, she slept almost half the flight and other than a few whimpers, was silent and content the rest of the journey. The chatty three-year-old behind me stopped her chatting and I did not hear a peep from her for the rest of flight (was she drugged?!). And although the wide-eyed toddler did not sleep, he barely made a sound and enjoyed taking his mom on many teetering laps around the plane (got to love active German children).
I was able to sleep most of flight (I was drugged…thank you over-the-counter sleeping pills!) and when I woke up again I found us circling see the familiar Golden Gate bridge below and starting our descent into SFO. As the buildings become larger and runway into view, I countdown…five…four…three…two…touchdown! I was again on American soil again after nine months away.
Once landed, it took me almost an hour to go through the US passport-customs-baggage obstacle course. While waiting by the baggage carousel for my bags, I was caught by the security dog.
Oops! Forgot to throw out my eaten apple cores from the flight. The officer laughs at my mistake, takes my apple cores and writes a note on my customs sheet that he confiscated my ‘apple cores.’
This mistakes put me through another line and I had to have my bags scanned again. The security woman checked my customs sheet, chuckled and asks if I am harboring any more ‘apple cores.’
Once I am all clear, it was through the final security gates and I was greeted by the smiling faces of my family and waving a homemade “Welcome Home Kirsten” sign. I gave my mom a hug and she busted into tears (aww, I feel so loved), hugged the rest of my family members and my dad took my luggage cart from me. We exited the airport and the dry California heat immediately hit me.
I spent the rest of the day resting, unpacking and enjoying a delicious steak dinner with the family. Apart from my room being a different color (my mom got sick of the Tiffany-blue and decided to painting it a more mature olive green) I find everything the same.
Same family, same house, same car, same dog, same California.
But one thing is not the same…me!
Its just the beginning of the acclimation process however I am already having to remind myself that yes, the last nine months did happen and no, its not all a dream.
I am so overwhelmed with the blessings of this life. Life in Denmark was such an incredible, life-altering and amazing experience. And I have come home to such blessings as well– a wonderful family, faithful friends and a loving home. And I have faith that all these blessings are a gift from one thing, the Father.
For I know that
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” James 1:17
The current state of my room. I have some work to do…
Realizations since coming home…
Wow, everything is huge! I could fit four of my Copenhagen apartment bedrooms in my one bedroom at home.
Wow, I have lot of stuff! Its true, America is a consumer society. After living out of just two suitcases of belongings for nine months, I forgot I owned anything else. As I opened my closet back at home the amount of stuff exploding from my closet practically devoured me..to the Goodwill I go this week!
Wow, its hot here! I was greeted by SF blue skies and 80+ °F (27°C) weather. I don’t have to wear a scarf and sweater?!? Where am I?!?
Wow, I am so pale! The scarce Scandinavian sun has not given me much color in the last nine months. When I put a dress on, my mom suggested I switch to pants. She said the white-ness of my legs were blinding her.
Wow, I understand all the conversations around me! I have become so accustomed to being surrounded by languages that I do not understand. Must learn how to eavesdrop again…
Wow, my allergies are horrible! Thanks to jet-lag, I awoke at an absurd hour this morning, decided to get some fresh air and went for an early morning jog. I forgot how badly I the Bay Area Pollen-Bowl effects me…I am now paying for it with itchy-eyes, a scratchy throat, swollen fingers and sneezing every 5 seconds. Good thing I am off to the allergist tomorrow!
I still have not…
I still have not purchased anything since my arrival. After nine months of using the Danish Kroner currency, I do not remember how to use US cash (nor do I remember the prices!).
I still have not driven a car. If I could get away with it, I never want to drive again. But wait…I live in the United States of Automobiles. My dad says driving a car is like learning to ride a bike again…so why can’t I just ride my bike?
I still have not gotten a cell phone. I have enjoyed using my 10-digit archaic-brick Picell international phone for the last year. Just calling and texting…who needs a touch screen?