The First 24 Hours of My Semester Abroad: A Missed Plane, Some Jet Lag & One Hotel Later

I arrived at Boston Logan International Airport with one overweight checked bag, a carry-on that was far bigger than it should have been (isn’t everyone’s?) and what I thought would be plenty of travel snacks. I even made it to the airport by the recommended time – 2 hours before my flight, which was a real accomplishment for me. I was indeed off to a great start for my semester abroad. 

Boarding was a tad delayed, but I finally settled down in my window seat for my overnight flight to Paris. The 30-minute boarding delay was no big deal because we were supposed to make up time in the air with the tailwind. But after another 50 minutes still sitting at the gate, my nerves began to kick in about making my connection in Paris. My hour-and-a-half layover was now cut to a half-hour, during which I would have to go through customs and navigate the massive Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Needless to say, once we finally took off, I could not peel my eyes away from the flight tracker map on the screen in front of me. While I tried to distract myself with my book, Netflix and sleep, nothing was as interesting as the flight tracker to me. I just kept watching the estimated arrival time telling me I would have exactly 32 minutes to catch my flight to Florence.

For a while, I really thought I could pull it off. I was only one person – I could weasel my way past people in the customs line and maybe- just maybe- my gate would be close by. Once we finally landed and actually got to the gate, I was down to 14 minutes. I ran to the security line, which was long but doable, and then ran to the customs line which was deserted. Once I made it through customs, I had exactly four minutes until my flight left. I sprinted to the gate knowing the doors would be closed, but hoping that, by some streak of luck, boarding would be delayed and that I would make it. 

I did not.

Out of breath and crushed, I made my way to the customer service desk and was rebooked on the next flight for Florence, which did not leave for another 10 hours. The icing on the cake: I would now be arriving in Florence at 8:30PM, which meant I was going to miss check-in at the study center for my program and would thus not be able to get my apartment keys. My first night in Florence was to be spent in a hotel near the study center, and I would have to wait to check in the following morning. 

12 hours, one meal and a light nap later, I arrived in Florence. I booked a hotel the school had recommended (though they failed to mention the four flights of stairs I would have to lug my 50lb bag up which may have made me reconsider my choice) and spent my first night in Florence alone in a very small room. 

The next morning, I walked 0.3 miles to the study center, dragging my bags on the tiny cobblestone Florence sidewalks and arrived at the school sweating, but incredibly relieved to have actually made it. 

So yes, it was not smooth sailing in any way for my first 24 hours abroad. However, I did eventually make it. This experience has also made me realize that this entire trip will be all about adjusting.