My Irish Spring

On Sunday I was supposed to fly to Ireland but things did not go as planned. In fact, they went better than planned – at least at first. Since my flight was not until about noon, I woke up late with plenty of time to eat and make sure everything was packed. Even the long lines at the baggage check counter couldn’t damper my excitement. I greeted the clerk eager and ready to start my semester abroad. With a hint of amusement, she told me that my flight to Chicago was delayed slightly, but not to worry because she could get me on a flight to Newark and then on to Shannon airport in Ireland. In the process I was upgraded to First Class because that was the only seat left. I could not believe me luck. I have never flown First Class before, so I figured this had to be a sign that it was a lucky day.

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Packing up my life for the next six months.

Cutting out the stop in Chicago meant that I now had more time to kill before I went through security, so got some coffee with my parents and hung out for a few more hours before entering the line for security. I quickly found my gate took my place in the First Class line, ready more than ever to be on my way. However, when the woman behind the counter lifted the microphone, instead of informing us that we would begin boarding, she stated that air traffic conditions would delay our flight for three more hours. This meant I would definitely miss my flight in Newark. I quickly realized that I would not be flying to Ireland any time soon.

I spent the next hour or so talking on the phone with United Airlines, eventually switching all my flights to the next day. As I stood there, I watched three girls come up to the help desk and say they were trying to get to Galway. We eventually figured out that we are all in the same program from UW-Madison and we ended up on the same flights the next day.

I’m lucky that I never made it to Chicago or Newark because it meant I was still in Minneapolis and only a couple miles from home. I spent one more night with my parents eating Chinese food and playing guitar before returning to the airport at six in the morning. I made it to Newark by 11am and had eight hours to kill with Rachel, Ally and Julia from my program. While I would have preferred to arrive in Ireland without any issues (and on First Class), it was nice to have that last night with my parents and a chance to get to know my fellow Madison students. One of the main concerns I had about studying abroad was making friends in the beginning that I could socialize with, but after hours of layovers, flying, waiting for the bus to Galway and searching for all of our apartments, I ended up arriving in Galway with multiple friends I already knew.

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New friends after being stranded at the airport.

It seems to me the best way to approach travelling is with the expectation that things will not go right on the first try, but eventually you will end up where you need to be. And, in the end, maybe the delay ends up being more positive than negative, like it did for me. As for First Class, I guess I will just have to keep travelling until I get upgraded again.

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