These were my words as I said goodbye to the family that came to the airport after a specifically asked them to stay home. Ahhhh, it's Februaury 5, 2014 and I'm on my way to Iasi, Romania. Yes, I said it; Romania! So I'm sitting in the airport, my first time leaving the country. My first time on a plane. And I'm going alone. ALONE. You say you can't believe that none of my peers at University of Michigan- Flint wanted to take advantage of the awesome study abroad program? Well believe it, no classmates, no teachers, no mentors, just me. So of course I'm super stoked because something about me loves learning about the unknown. So I'm sitting in the airport with my tickets in hand and the snow is falling harder and harder making it feel like with each snowflake there was a delay in my first flight. Uh-oh, since I was taking four planes I didn't have much room for error and delays. Six 10 minute delays later, I find myself climbing onto a small cramped plane leaving from my hometown Flint, MI. I get in, buckle my seatbelt and Pray. PRAY. While I'm still busy with the thoughts in my mind I hear a guy standing up in the middle aisle with a too tight uniform on saying something like "Hi, I'm ........ Your oxygen mask is located...... and your life jacket is...." and some other safety precautions that nobody seems to be interested in. So, we take off. It's not so bad, I'm sitting on my Iphone playing CandyCrush and next thing I know I'm landing in Chicago, IL. Great, 3 more planes to go. The next 2 planes both feel the same as the first, a drab spiel about safety, a monotonous speech about electronics, take off and landing.
So eventually I land in Bucharest, Romania. It hits me that I wasn't in the states anymore when the plane landed and I woke up to a plane filled with blank stares and confusion as if they were all thinking the same thoughts as me. "What is this black girl doing in Romania?" So I quickly grab my carry on from the overhead, throw my pillow inside and scurry through the people who weren't ready to get off the plane and wander into the dry, colorless airport. I get to the customs window and no English was know except one word. "Passport". I give him my passport he stamps it, mumbles something in Romanian and calls for the next person in line. I go and grab my suitcase filled with everything I thought I would need for 6 months and head out to the door to look for a colleague that was supposed to pick me up.
After waiting about thirty minutes and until just about everyone on my flight was gone, I sit down to call Alex to see where he was and then I see a Facebook message pop up "Sorry Jaquita, Could not make it into the airport, I was called in to work. :(" At this moment I sunk in my chair and began to think about my next option. So first I needed to empty my bladder so I can think straight. So I walked around for 10 minutes attempting to follow Romanian signs directing me to the bathroom, after walking around in a complete circle, twice, I decided to ask on of the many people staring at the only black girl walking around in circles. After ten minutes of asking many people and attempting to speak English, I rush into the awkwardly place bathroom and let it all out. Okay, okay... Too much information, but hey it's my blog.
So I make my way to find a seat after lugging 6 months of clothes, hair products and snacks around and I decide I need to get a taxi to take me to a hotel. So I grab my now broken carry on (Zipper Broke), and my huge suitcase and I head downstairs to a machine that completely in Romanian and I manage to order a taxi. While waiting for a taxi I grab my phone and I search for the closest hotel to the airport since it was already 11 PM and my flight was scheduled to leave at 7 AM. So I get the address of the cheapest one, and tell the taxi driver where I'm going. Now my phone is telling me that its 2.5 kilometers away and the taxi cab says it charges about 3 LEI per kilometer. Despite this information I have, the taxi driver wanted to take the scenic route, so 15 minutes and 23 lei later we arrive at the hotel. I didn't mind the over price taxi ride because it was so late and 23 LEI is only about 7.00 USD. I walk in to this little quaint place, where luckily the receptionist speaks English, I get my key, grab my luggage, the WI-FI password and go upstairs. It's a clean room with a king size bed, a TV from 1950 and a nice shower. It was perfect! I dig in my carry-on find my change of clothes, get in the shower then lay on the stiff blanket until I fall asleep.
My alarm goes off at 5:30 AM, waking me up just in time to catch another shower and head downstairs to the shuttle bus going to the airport. The airport this time was different, there was more people and a lively feel. I guess at 11 PM people just aren't as lively. I get onto my flight, eat the in-flight dry croissant, and 2 hours later I'm in Iasi.