I open the door, say goodbye to my family, step out of the car, and walk into DFW International Airport. I am going to be gone for one month, for study abroad.
I have never flown before, much less taken the nine-hour flight to Heathrow in London. As I walk inside I can see a crowd of people. I am looking for a check-in counter in Terminal D. This was the only instruction I was given from my professor. “Meet me at the check-in counter in Terminal D three hours before our flight. Don’t be late.” Now I feel as though maybe I should have asked more questions. Where was D? Did they go in order? How many check-in counters are in D?
I did not realize that DFW airport was a city within a city. DFW spans 30 square miles. How was I supposed to find Terminal D, much less anyone I know? The only thing I can think of is, “You are an adult, it can’t be that hard. Just stay calm and be logical.” I search and ask several other passengers but each one says something different. I am now even more nervous, but I know that 57 million passengers find their way around this airport every year, so I can do the same. I find the desk and Dr. Clinton after fifteen minutes of roaming the vast halls. Now I only have to endure the next three hours of waiting—and then the trip will really begin.
I weigh my luggage with the portable scale I brought one more time before I line up to get my bags checked. I am so paranoid that it is going to be overweight. My luggage is 56 pounds. I logically know that there is no way that my luggage could have changed weight from my house to the airport but I just want to make sure. Now ten other people are staring at me asking if they can borrow my scale. Of course three of them have luggage that is overweight. My group stands outside of check-in with open luggage for twenty minutes shoving each other’s things in to bags that are underweight. Finally everyone has fixed their issues, and into check-in we go.
I begin to second guess myself. What if there is something weird in my carry-on? What if my liquids are too voluminous? Do I need to put the tablet in a separate bin, like a laptop, or should I to put it in the bin with my cell phone?
I make it through the security checkpoint, barely.
Once on the plane, I realize that out of 43 rows everyone I know is seated together 20 rows ahead of me. What am I suppose to do for nine hours with strangers all around me? We all board the plane and find our seats. I greet the other students who are sitting beside me, hoping that they are just as stressed out as I am at this point. I am kind of relieved to know that they are kind, and in the same state of mind that I am in.
The plane takes off, and we are suddently in flight.
Relaxation finally sets in, and then the inevitable happens: the baby in the row in front of me starts to cry.