I was hoping to get this posted before now, but Wi-Fi in Paris turned out to be rather difficult to find. So, here I sit, enjoying my layover in the Warsaw airport, looking back on what has been an incredible four months. My brain still has trouble believing that it is already May and I will be seeing my parents in less than 13 hours. While this becomes reality, I have an even harder time believing that I may never again see all the beautiful people in Lithuania who became like family to me. But, this sad ending is just proof that the semester has been more than I could ever have expected. Also, every ending serves as a new beginning, so I am excited to see what other adventures await me.
Here is an update on my most recent adventures, as well as a few lessons from Paris:
Airports…I can’t wait to be done with them for a while! As many of you know from reading my Facebook post, I had some trouble in the Vilnius airport on Sunday. It actually started a month or two ago when AirBaltic canceled my flight that I originally booked back in November. I had a bit of a hassle trying to call them from Lithuania to choose a new flight. But, I thought it was all well and done after that phone call. When I got to the airport, I discovered that they changed the class on my ticket as well as their policy on luggage. No one had informed me of any of this before hand (or the fact that I was supposed to check in for my flight online and print my boarding pass). So, I had no boarding passes, no free checked bags, no carry-on allowed, and only 1.5 hours until my flight was set to depart. At this point, I had no idea how I was going to get my bags and myself through security and on the plane before takeoff. So, I sat down, pulled out my laptop, which was almost dead (and I couldn’t find an outlet anywhere), and began fixing this airport disaster. I was able to check in online and have my boarding passes emailed to my phone. Then, I bought two checked bags on the AirBaltic website, to the pain of my bank account. Finally, I repacked my bags in hopes that nothing fragile would be broken, and went back to the check in counter. Even though my boarding passes and baggage receipt were supposed to be printed, they let me by with showing them on my phone. After getting through security, I had to hide my purse under my sweater and backpack since I was only supposed to have one personal item onboard the plane. But, I successfully smuggled my own belongings onboard and made it with just a few minutes to spare. Looking back, I realize that this was not the worst thing that could have happened, and I did make it to Paris safely. Also, I probably should have stood up for myself and the fact that when I first booked a flight with AirBaltic, I was supposed to get a checked bag, a carry on bag, and a personal item (purse) for free because I booked an economy class ticket, not basic class. Needless to say, I survived, the lesson has been learned, and I will not be flying with AirBaltic ever again.
Paris! First, let me give an over-simplified description: Paris is beautiful! I had been warned about how many people expect so much from Paris and then are disappointed when they get there, but I did not have this experience. Sure, it probably helped that it is springtime and the entire city is in bloom, but I think I would have loved it even if it were covered in snow and ice. Also, let me say that I have no idea where the whole “Parisians are rude” stereotype comes from. I found almost every person I encountered to be pleasant and helpful. At one point, we were a bit lost and a random French woman walked up and asked if she could help us find our way. This is just one example of the warm welcome we received.
Expect the unexpected. Yes, this is true. Thankfully, I planned extra time for getting to the airport this morning. I got ready and was all packed early this morning so I could eat breakfast at the hotel and be on the way to the train station by 8:00am in order to get to the airport plenty early. At 7:55, Audrey (who also studied at LCC) and I finished our breakfast and went up to the room to get our luggage. I slipped the key card in the door, saw the green light, and pushed…but the door would not budge. We tried several more times to no avail. Then, we went down to reception and got the hotel manager to come help. He could not get our door open with either the master key card or the actual metal key. After politely asking us to wait, he and another man on staff climbed through the third-story window to unjam our door. Who would have ever thought that our door would become jammed on the morning we need to leave? Even though it set us back about 25 minutes, I made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. I was so thankful I planned to leave extra early!
A farewell from Europe. Well, I almost made it out of Europe without being kissed by any random men on the street…almost. I spent these last four days in Paris with three other American girls who were at LCC: Audrey, Emma A., and Emma C. Yesterday, Emma A. and I went to one of the bridges on the Seine, just in front of Notre Dame, to watch the sunset over Paris. The other two girls were supposed to meet us there. While we were waiting, a random guy (who was actually completely sober) pushed his way in between us, put an arm around each of us, and proceeded to comment on how beautiful the view was. Emma and I were totally caught off guard and less than impressed. He continued to talk to us for a few minutes as we did our best to stop the one-sided conversation and set ourselves free. Finally, Emma said, “Well, we really need to go find our friends.” I agreed and we started to walk away. However, we didn’t walk quite fast enough because he still managed to snag us both and deliver a kiss to each cheek. It was everything we could do to not run down that bridge in shock and embarrassment. A few minutes later, I told Emma (who is also majoring in psychology and criminal justice), “Those are the moments when we need to say, ‘Yeah, we are studying criminal justice and could take you down in a flash, so leave us alone.’” I don’t know why I didn’t think of saying this sooner!
Alright, my boarding time is coming up. In a little more than ten hours, I will be back on US soil. So, I want to use this last journal from Europe to express my thankfulness to everyone who has kept up with my journey. One thing I learned this semester is the most important phrase to know when visiting countries with foreign languages: Thank you. So, here are all the “thank you”s I have learned…
Ačiū – Lithuanian (pronounced “ah-choo”)
Спасибо – Russian (pronounced “spa-see-bah”)
Merci – French
Paldies – Latvian
Grazie – Italian
Go raibh maith agat – Irish
Aitäh – Estonian
It will take me a little while to get caught up on pictures and videos, but I will continue to post them on here in the coming days and weeks. Also, I will continue to journal about what I am learning in the process of reentry, should I have anything interesting to write. Thank you all for your prayers, support, interest, and love as I have been abroad!