InternationalStudent.com InternationalStudent.com

Study Abroad Blog

The Trip

Posted on August 27th, 2007 by Matt Brattin

The Departure

I’m starting this post while wasting time in the Dublin International Airport during my seven-hour layover – only four hours to go! Yeah, so my trip started with a teary-eyed parting from my family at the Fresno airport, but I quickly grew concerned that I’d be seeing them much sooner than expected. I don’t know why, but it seems the last few planes I’ve gotten on have been delayed because they had to perform maintenance of some sort…well, this first leg from Fresno to Los Angeles was no exception and I prayed that they’d get done in time to allow me to catch my next flight to Dublin. Assuming you’ve been paying attention, I obviously made it in time, since I’m writing from Dublin.

What have I to say so far? I don’t understand luggage weight requirements, nor do I understand a lot of the procedures at airports. I arrived at FAT (Fresno, for those not in the know…or those in the ‘no who think they’re in the know by saying they’re in the ‘no, but really you’re just annoying) about two hours early to check in with United. When I mentioned my end destination was Barcelona I was told if I wanted United to forward my luggage all the way through to BCN it would cost me $381…or, I could check my bags when I got to LAX and only pay $50 – I would just have to deal with Aer Lingus when I arrived and potentially have to pay additional fees to them. I opted for the $50 and chose to take my chances at LAX.

Not sure how the fees work exactly, I always thought with an international end destination you were allotted more luggage (I had read up about Aer Lingus’ requirements, but hadn’t thought to check United’s!), but apparently it is cheaper to have overweight bags on a one-hour continental flight than a transatlantic flight with connections…may make sense, but didn’t really at the time, who knows?

Based on my decision I had to retrieve my luggage at LAX and lug all 120lbs of it from one end of the airport to the other where I then had to stand in the slowest moving line I’ve ever experienced. How slow was this line? Well, the flight was delayed 45 minutes because nearly half of the passengers weren’t even checked in by the time the plane was scheduled to leave. Anyway, the wait was sorta worth it, because in the end Aer Lingus didn’t even charge me excess weight fees on my luggage – so sucks to you United and your $381 charge!…perhaps Aer Lingus didn’t choose to charge me because they were going on strike two days later and simply didn’t care? I dunno, but hey, I didn’t complain.

After I finally checked in, I was then told I had to lug my bags about 50 yards further to a group of guys who were running around and joking with one another for fifteen minutes until I had a line of about 20 people behind me. I guess with the long line they decided they had built a sufficient pipeline of work and they finally called me to ask if my bags were locked. When I said no, I was told to set them by a few other bags and I was free to go through security…a pointless step, if I do say so…also a little disconcerting if these gentlemen were in charge of luggage security…but I digress.

We made up time in the air and actually landed about on time. I got my passport stamped and made my way through the maze that is the Dublin airport and now all I can do is sit around and wait for my flight to show up on a screen so I know which gate to go to. I’m so early the flight isn’t showing yet and probably won’t for another hour. Thankfully I have a new book and my mp3 player to kinda keep me occupied, however I’m so exhausted after getting about an hour of off and on sleep last night I’m just not in a very good mood.

So, how do I feel exactly? Well, sad for starters. I know it’s normal, I felt this way when I went to Sweden, but this time it is a little different because when I’m not thinking about how bad I’m missing Blanca and how we really don’t know how long it will be until I see her again, I start thinking about my dad and, well, it is just hard. I just wish he could have been there with me at the airport…and I need to stop or I’m going to start crying right here in the airport. *deep breaths* moving on…

When I arrive in Barcelona it will be about 9pm Spanish time, or about noon California time. I’ve been told customs will likely take a couple hours, so I’m hoping to make it to my new apartment by midnight Spanish time. My new landlord is kind enough to be picking me up from the airport, so that should help upon arrival. Once I reach the apartment I’m going to try to give Blanca a call and then will hopefully crash and won’t end up with too much jetlag, but we will see.

My objectives for the week are to apply for my residence card, open a bank account, figure out how to successfully get to and from the school, and maybe meet a few of my classmates before things kick off Monday. I really wish I wasn’t so beat right now. I feel like I should be super excited, but it is hard to feel that way with everything that is on my mind…the heartburn isn’t helping either. Oh well, traveling is stressful and exhausting, so hopefully once I get settled and have my communication abilities figured out I will start feeling better.

I guess that is all I have to say at the moment, I’ll continue this when I arrive at my apartment so I can post anything else that was noteworthy during the rest of the trip.

The Arrival!

IIIIIIII’mmmmm Heeeeerrrrreeeee!!! Barcelona that is, I made it! You know, that layover in Dublin was just so crappy, I really got worried there that I wasn’t going to fare so well once I got here. Not quite so, I started feeling the rush of excitement when we were about 500 feet off the ground coming in to land and I was looking out over the ocean thinking, “It’s really, finally happening…” I am here!

Getting off the plane wasn’t too bad, took about four minutes to get my passport stamped, then nearly a half hour to get my bags (got a lil nervous), then, just as I thought I had one more line to pass through I realized I was done. It wasn’t a line I had seen, but all the people waiting for loved ones getting off the plane. So, no two hour customs to deal with, just thirty minutes of waiting for luggage. As I walked on out to the main lobby I immediately saw my landlord and it just so happened there was another ESADE student who took the same flights I had, so she was kind enough to take both of us to our new homes.

I arrived at my new apartment about 11:30pm Spanish time, so not too bad, but I was wide awake and Mary (my landlord…I’m tired of calling her that!) gave me the grand tour and even walked me around outside, showed me a store, internet café, and even took the time to draw me a nice map on how to get to ESADE. If that’s not service then I dunno what is! By the way, Mary was also the woman who interviewed me for admission to ESADE. Why does that matter? I dunno, but do you think the new MBAs heading to Harvard get picked-up at the airport and driven to their apartment by the same folks who do their admissions interviews? I doubt it, then again, I have no proof, but it’s still pretty darn good service to me!

My apartment is cool, the layout will take some getting used to, especially when Blanca arrives, but we will certainly get used to it. It is very much fully furnished and I even had milk, juice, and water waiting for me in the fridge, which was nice. The terrace is beautiful and I would gladly be typing this from out there except within the last ten minutes some clouds just rolled in, thunder and all, and it started pouring…darn! At least it didn’t happen until now, cause I was just out walking a marathon all over, I went in search of a falafel shop I enjoyed back in the day…think I found it, falafel for 1,95 euros, not too shabby! ***Update*** That was not the falafel shop from back in the day, but I did find the right place today and I was about half a block off. I was sad to see the prices have more than doubled from 2003…but it was one darn good falafel…so I forgive them.

Anyway, I’m supposed to meet a classmate in about a half hour to grab some dinner, hope the rain lets up a little! I will try to get some pictures up somewhere soon so I can begin sharing photos. Guess that is all for now, intro week begins Monday! Adios!

“What’s the point of going out, we’re just going to end up back here anyway?” – Homer Simpson

2 Responses to “The Trip”

  1. essell13 Says:

    Hi Matt,

    glad to hear you finally made it! Maybe next time you should try finding a direct flight from LA, saves a lot of trouble. I don’t think there is a big price difference, if any.

    So, where abouts do you live in BCN? I would really like to meet you. Actually, if you read this within the next hour: a friend of mine just let me down and I have a spare ticket to tonights’ football match against AC Milan. If you are interested, give me a call: 617 583 380!

    Welcome to Barcelona!

    Stefan

  2. Luggage Sets Says:

    Luggage Sets…

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you….

Leave a Reply