Today is the first day of my travels and my first time in Europe. Going through the check-in process at my USA airport was interesting. Since I plan to travel around in Europe after my program ends I had only bought a one-way ticket to Spain. Evidently this presents problems because the Spanish authorities want to know that I am leaving their country (or so the Delta person claimed which I later found out not to be true). I can only stay 90 days without a flight somewhere else even though I have a Visa that goes until July. Thankfully I read into issues with one-way tickets beforehand and was prepared to buy a ticket to another country in Europe to satisfy the Spaniards. If I could do it over again I would buy a round-trip because it’s cheaper and has less problems (or possibly tell the Delta employee I bought a ticket to another European country even though I haven’t yet).
I flew out last night and am currently sitting in the Paris, France airport until my flight to Barcelona. Last night I flew in the largest plane I have ever been in and it felt weird being served breakfast at midnight my time (it was 6am local time). The Paris airport is beautiful. My terminal ceiling and walls are curved like a fish without the tail or fins and everything is made from glass. Even the bathrooms are modern styled red glass. They have security between terminals which wasn’t a problem. One of the funny things that the French don’t require that we commonly do in the USA is leave on shoes going through security. Go figure! I guess Americans are a little more up tight.
Other dealings with one-way tickets and the Paris airport, I bought some food and it was a little embarrassing. I wasn’t super hungry but I figured that since I am in France I should eat a quality French pastry! When I got in line there were few others but somehow, they increased exponentially. By the time I got to the counter I asked the women in French if she spoke English and she said yes (or so I thought). Then I tried to pronoun the item I wanted – Canelé unité – with my Spanish accent. It was definitely not how the item was pronounced and she thought I wanted a different item. To make it easier I reached across the other people in line to point to what I desired which was awkward. Then I tried to pay with a card and everything was in French so I just winged it. That also did not work and she had to help me. I probably looked like a fool and I’m hoping this will be easier when I do it in Spanish. Despite the challenging process, the pastry was very good! Some sort of deep fried, slightly lemon and very doughy little pastry.
Overall, at this point it doesn’t feel like I’m studying abroad. As someone who has flown solo quite a few times, this just feels like a trip that I will be returning to the United States and Madison, WI. Maybe once I get to Barcelona and am no longer living out of an airport my feelings will change. I am excited to meet my new roommates and homestay host!