I hadn’t even been on a plane until last year.
Well, that’s not entirely true. When I was little, my family and I took a small 5-seat plane out of our county airport for a quick flight around the area on Father’s Day, but that doesn't count. I had never flown on a real, live, big-girl plane until last spring, when I traveled to London through Arcadia Preview. That flight lasted about seven hours. Now, from Philadelphia, it would take at least six hours just for me to get to LAX. I was scheduled to board a plane to Dallas, where I would get on a connecting flight to Los Angeles.
To be honest, the layover was the main source of my worries. I was so inexperienced, I didn’t know how I could manage to navigate three different airports without my parents or a friend. The whole “five-month stay in a foreign country” thing did not concern me as much.
Now, you all saw the picture of my parents watching me go through security. What you didn’t see was my mild panic attack when the agent at the airport told me my connecting flight to Dallas would be delayed too long for me to catch the next plane. I was re-routed through Chicago, and somehow managed to safely and efficiently get myself to my next gate, and onto my plane to Los Angeles. Despite some delays, turbulence, and frayed nerves, I met my friends Courtney and Michelle at LAX, and we bravely faced the most daunting task of all: the 16-hour flight to Melbourne, Australia, where our orientation would be held. At that point, I couldn't even feel nervous or excited. All I could feel on that plane flying over the great Pacific Ocean was exhaustion and the desire for a hot shower.
Our plane was under darkness for most of the flight, but no matter how tired I felt, I couldn’t sleep. With bleary eyes, I watched the in-flight entertainment on the screen located on the headrest in front of me. I sipped from tiny ginger ale cans and adjusted my neck pillow for the 1234892354th time. I marveled at the flight attendants’ Aussie accents, and wondered how they managed to look so put-together while I resembled an angry troll that had just crawled out from under her bridge.
But sooner than I could have imagined, daylight came streaming through our tiny cabin windows, and I saw it:
Australia. I was finally here, after months and months of planning, worrying, and waiting. Even though I desperately needed a change of clothes and a toothbrush, I was ready to start my first grand adventure out on my own. After a collective 22 hours in the air, I was ready to take flight.
UP NEXT: I'll be covering Arcadia's orientation in the coastal town of Sorrento and and the city of Melbourne, the effects of jet lag, and how I experienced the worst thing in the world.