The End of a Long Journey

Well… after four months living abroad, I’m finally home in Minnesota.  I’m sure that nostalgia and longing to be out in the world will come eventually, but right now, all I feel is drained.

The process of getting home was a nightmare.  I flew from Prague to London, had one day in England’s capital, and then hopped on what ended up being three airplanes bound for home.  It sounds so nice when put in words–I was here and then I was there.  But, really, the journey was miserable.

I was exhausted before I even began the homeward journey.  Traveling alone for a month, surrounded by strangers who speak a different language, walking 7-10 miles per day, never sleeping in the same bed for more than a few nights takes it’s toll.  Weary to the bone, all I wanted was home.

The plan was simple: Fly to Iceland, hop on a connection to Minneapolis.  Eleven hours of travel, getting me home around 6 PM.  Getting home at night would have been great, ’cause I could have gone straight to bed.

Things, as you may have guessed, didn’t go according to plan.  I ended up traveling through the day and through the night.

Last Friday, I departed from my hostel early in the morning and began what turned into an almost 30 hour journey.  My three-hour flight from Heathrow to Iceland was delayed an hour and a half due to strikes at the Reykjavik airport, making me miss my connection to Minneapolis by ten minutes.  I made my way to the customer service desk and, the next thing I knew, I was handed a new boarding pass and getting on an airplane bound for Seattle.  Eight hours later, I cleared United States customs and had seven hours to kill until my final flight.

I never thought I’d be the kind of person to plop down like a homeless person and sleep in an airport… but I guess life is full of surprises.  When you’ve lived on the road for so long, you learn to make yourself comfortable anywhere.  When you haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in over a week, the floor of an airport becomes incredibly appealing.

During the journey, I learned that there are many different kinds of exhaustion.  I think I experienced almost all of them.  There’s the emotional meltdown, which includes stress, lots of tears, and a general feeling that the world is ending.  There’s the “Oh my God I Want to Die” exhaustion where you’re physically uncomfortable, can’t focus on anything, but can’t actually rest either.  There’s numbness, where you’re so tired you cease to feel emotions and you wander around in a glassy-eyed haze.  Finally, there’s loopiness where you get really chatty and find inappropriate things really funny, like “Customs almost charged me $300 because I forgot to declare the apple those random people in Iceland gave me!  Ha ha ha ha, it was hilarious!”

Arriving home after intense travel is one of the best feelings in the world.  After thirty hours of dreaming, nothing beats the descent over your home state at dawn.  The weariness fades to the background as you pass over endless fields and lakes, tinted pink in the early morning light.  Then, when you’re finally off the plane, finding your parents (who got up at 4 AM) waiting for you at Baggage Claim is wonderful beyond words.

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Dawn over Minnesota

It’s SO GOOD to be back.  I’m definitely feeling the jet lag, but have been able to get good nights of rest.  I’ve been pretty busy since arriving–attending baby showers, shopping, moving my brother to his new apartment.  I don’t feel like I’ve really had the opportunity to rest or even process my adventure, but that will come.

I have so many stories to share about my journey.  Sadly, my computer is broken (I’m writing from my mom’s laptop) so I can’t sort through any of my photos or begin videography projects.  Hopefully, though, that will get fixed quickly.

In the meantime, thanks for following me on my adventures!  I hope to be writing regularly now that I’m home.

6 thoughts on “The End of a Long Journey

  1. Victoria May 2, 2016 / 12:24 pm

    Going home is probably the toughest part of any study abroad experience. Glad to hear that you made it back safely!

  2. brittabottle May 2, 2016 / 3:29 pm

    Delayed/missed flights are my nightmare–I’ve never had to deal with them while traveling solo so far, but I’m sure it’ll happen sometime in the future given that I’m definitely not done traveling.

    Welcome home, Amelia!

  3. jessplainsong May 3, 2016 / 7:22 am

    Welcome home, and imagine that your experience is how Australians feel every single damned time they travel OS. A nightmare.

    • Amelia May 3, 2016 / 8:43 am

      Thanks! And good point–Australians really have it rough when it comes to travel.

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