I never imagined that I would ever leave the United States before I turned 20, but here I am, sitting in a hotel in Ansbach, Germany asking myself if this is really my life. It feels so surreal and when I’m not consciously thinking, “I’m in Germany?!” I forget that I am in fact in Germany. So much awaits for me and the rest of my group while we’re here, and I know we’re just getting started, but the last couple days have been such an adventure already.
Thursday, May 25
Wednesday night, I got off work and drove to Joplin where I spent the night with my friend Shelby. The next morning, we started off our day of travel by driving down to Fayetteville, Arkansas! We checked in and got our tickets printed out, then found the rest of our group from Missouri Southern. The first plane ride went well, and only lasted a couple hours. I read the United magazine that was in front of my seat and played with my fidget spinner to help distract my brain.
We landed in Houston, Texas around 1:00pm and managed to navigate the airport. We rode a trolley-type thing to get to our terminal, which alone was bigger than the airport in Fayetteville. We had three hours to kill, so we got some food (Einstein Bro’s Bagels for the win!) and then just hung out! We played some games (are the pens crossed or uncrossed??) and then before we knew it, it was 4:00pm and time to board the plan for GERMANY!!
I ended up sitting in the middle of the middle row next to Shelby and one of the guys in our group, Grant. We all excitedly talked about the coming adventure, then held on to our seats as we lifted off and said goodbye to the United States.
The plane ride was very long (10 hours to be exact), a little bumpy at times, and made me sore from sitting in the same position for so long, but it was a pretty good flight! I searched through all the movies they had that we could watch and found a bunch that I had never seen and really wanted to, then ended up choosing to watch Star Wars Episode IV, which I have seen multiple times. Woops. They fed us dinner, and they had vegetarian pasta so I didn’t have to starve! I was actually pleasantly surprised with how good it tasted. After my movie was over, we still had over 7 hours to go, so I tried my best to fall asleep. I slept off and on for hours, and at one point I woke up and we were flying right over the middle of the ocean.
Friday, May 26
At about 12:30am central standard time, I decided to stop trying to sleep. I watched a documentary on a national park in Alaska, ate a light breakfast they provided, and watched the digital map as we flew over other parts of Europe and got closer to our destination.
Then we finally landed in Munich, Germany! Once we got off the plane, everything went quickly in a flurry of having our passports stamped, getting our luggage, finding the men who would be driving us to our hotel, getting Euros from the ATM (which BTW was $50 cheaper than if I had done it in the US), making a quick bathroom break, then loading up and heading to Ansbach.
The drive lasted two hours, and I managed to fall asleep for about 30 minutes. The drive was so pretty, and it was so cool to see the trees, flowers, and houses of Germany! It’s also really cool that they have so many solar panels and wind turbines everywhere!
We checked into our hotel and got settled in, spending some time showering, changing, and getting on the WiFi for the first time since we left Houston 13 hours before. I rushed to tell Shane and my mom that we had made it safely, even though it was 5 AM in Missouri so they wouldn’t see my message for a few hours.
Then most of our group decided to go out and explore Ansbach. Makenzie (one of three on this trip) did this program last summer, so she was our guide as we explored the beautiful downtown area.
We went into a cathedral, tried some German ice cream that Makenzie bought, walked the streets, and had a lot of fun! This city is so beautiful and I hope I have more time to explore while we’re here.
After an hour of resting, it was time to go to the school we’ll be doing our workshops through for a “welcome dinner”. All the international students staying in our hotel (some from Finland, Spain, and Mexico) met outside and a guy named Marius who works for the school led us to the campus! It was a really pretty walk but we were all so tired so it was hard to enjoy it as much. They did a short introduction and talked about what we’d be doing while we’re here, and then we ate dinner. It was mostly a lot of strange meats, so there wasn’t a lot for me to eat.
Eventually, some of us walked back to the hotel, and Shelby, Makenzie and I decided to stop by the McDonalds about a block from where we’re staying. It was cool but very different inside, the menu was all in German (obviously) and it looked like they didn’t serve breakfast items, so there wasn’t really anything there I wanted to eat. Makenzie bought a piece of chocolate cake from the “McCafe” though which was really good.
Back at the hotel, we put Toy Story 3 in German on the TV and all settled down, ready to catch up on all the rest we’ve missed the last 24 hours. I’ve only been in Germany about 12 hours but it’s already been a lot of fun and such a big adventure! I can’t wait to see what the next ten days hold!