Turning Pessimism into Optimism

Noelle McGee University of Edinburgh, Scotland


September 7, 2017

I started my journey with first paying a $200 overweight fee for my luggage. Although I could’ve been distressed that I had lost so much of the money I had, I remained optimistic. Since I’m staying for the entire academic year, my thought process was that in the end, I’m going to be really glad I brought all of these things because I wouldn’t be able to find my hair care products for my 4C hair, my skin care products I need until I can see the store equivalents or figure out how to order things online, and I have enough clothes to last me for a really long time because I don’t have the money to buy a completely new wardrobe upon touchdown.

I messed up my TSA check because I forgot to take my laptop and jewelry from my book bag, but the guy had just told me that I had to take all of my books out of my carry-on bag; however I remained optimistic.

Then my flight was delayed for four hours. My flight was scheduled for 4:30 pm, but with the oncoming Hurricane Irma, we were being told that the plane hadn’t arrived on schedule. After two hours, the plane finally came, but the plane was continued to be delayed for another hour. Since people were becoming disgruntled with the waiting in line, we were allowed on the plane finally around 6:44 pm. Unfortunately, when everyone was into their seats and instructed to put on our seat belts, watch the informational video, and view the flight attendants with the visual procedure for safety, we were told to wait another 40-50 minutes because of the strong winds. After that time passed, the Captain apologized again and said that there was another delay because they were strongly being encouraged to not fly with the winds coming in from the East coast, especially since we were flying to Newark airport. Around this time is when I started to become anxious about leaving.

I was messaging both my Mom and my academic advisor, and I was so scared of something disastrous occurring with the flight. People were becoming angry and disgruntled, and I was aware that in order to please them, they let us on the plane to calm nerves; however, the continued delays when we were on the plane with our seat belts on did make people more restless and frustrated. My messages were frantic, telling my advisor that I was now worried about heading into the storm to please customers and maintain satisfaction in the face of dangerous weather and how I had chose not to watch LOST for a week prior so that I wouldn’t scare myself out of flying. However, I was regretting my decision a lot as we waited for takeoff, with the flight attendants throwing snacks into people’s laps and hearing people grumble as they ate pretzels.

Before I left, I went through two weeks of intensive anxiety about leaving. Along with moving out of my apartment, I had to attend meetings with my academic advisor almost every day, or every two days, and was in constant contact with her via phone to call and prepare. Additionally, I was contacting financial aid and my Arcadia advisor about the things that I needed when I first arrived because I have a flat, and there are many things I need for my room and the kitchen. My face was breaking out, I couldn’t eat during the day because stress made me nauseous, and when I had a large phone conference about my pre-plans with multiple advisors from different departments and when asked about what am I excited for about leaving, all I could respond with was how I was honestly unsure because I was so anxious about the entire thing.

Therefore, in the face of all the things that were happening, I was trying to actively turn around my pessimism. When I finally got on the flight to go to Edinburgh, everything settled out nicely, and I was even able to meet a British family who sat next me. The mother of the family explained all of the cultural questions I had, such as if it’s rude to tip, paying for water and the bathroom, and also the currency. She was even nice enough to ask her family for enough money for me to catch the train after I leave the airport, and I’m surprised by the amount of kindness I was shown in a few hours. On the plane though, I did make an error in U.K. etiquette by requesting tea without milk (I didn’t know you could receive tea on a plane), and the flight attendant asked if I was sure about having it black, so I quickly changed my decision.

Currently, it is day two of orientation at the hotel we’re staying in, and we will be officially moving into our living arrangements tomorrow. I was worried about socializing with people and letting my fear restrict me socially, but it hasn’t reared its head ever since I’ve departed from home. The landscape is amazing so far, with old, Victorian styled buildings, cobble-stone roads, steep hills, and museums and stores like H&M all combined into one. After I get adjusted to my flat, unpack all my things, obtain a SIM card, my plan is to explore the city with my camera. It still feels like a vacation, but I know things will turn around and solidify once I begin orientation at the University of Edinburgh, and I can’t wait for this to begin.


Pre-Departure Travel