I have arrived in Brussels! Yesterday, my friends Shannon and Victoria spent the day taking me to O'Hare, and what an adventure it was! We left in the morning with plenty of time to get the airport so we could stop for deep dish pizza on the way! We went to Lou Malnati's and we all left feeling sick we were so full. Then we went to the airport and I proudly directed us to Terminal 5, the international terminal! We got out, lugged all my baggage into the terminal and began looking for the United Airlines check in desks. We looked and looked, but United was no where to be found. Finally, I asked an employee, only to find out that United only flies out of Terminal 1.
Good thing we got there way early! We drove around the airport again, found the short term parking for Terminal 1 and made our way inside O'Hare with all of my luggage... again. Our next set back arose when my large suitcase weighed in at 58 lbs. We found a space to set everything down and begin to repack. We moved things around and weighed all of my bags three more times before getting things worked out. We had all worked up a sweat and were flustered trying to rearrange my things and stay calm, but I was finally able to check in--and avoid a $200 fee for having an overweight bag. Thank goodness my friends were there to help me stay calm and be strategic with our organizing strategies. We said our goodbyes, and my tears started flowing! I cried all the way through security, during the two hour wait at my gate, and until the plane took off. The flight was not full, so I had an entire row of three seats to myself. When my Dramamine finally kicked in and I was able to sleep for almost all 8 hours of the flight.
Once I arrived in Brussels, I made my way through customs and stopped at the ATM before getting in the very long taxi line. It was pouring down rain outside! When I got in the taxi, the driver could not understand my French when I told him where I wanted to go, so I had to show him the address of the youth hostel. I was too stressed to be upset! I arrived at the hostel after a 15 minute ride and was happy to finally be there!! I checked in, and put my bags behind the reception desk since I couldn't get into my room until later in the afternoon. I hung out in the lobby and took advantage of the free wi-fi to email my family and friends and let them know of my safe arrival!
Next I ventured into the city in order to purchase a Belgian SIM card for my iPhone. I found the Base store with no problem and the employees here were able to understand my French quite well! Yay! They put the SIM card in for me, but I was unable to use my phone because I had not called Verizon ahead of time to ask them to do an international unlock. I had to take out the Belgian SIM card and use my Verizon one until I can get a hold of the Verizon store in the U.S. I was frustrated with my phone situation and the pouring rain--I was drenched after thirty minutes of walking to and from the Base store in the rain. I came back to the hostel lobby and started crying again! After sending a few more emails to friends and family, I regained my composure.
A very long day of goodbyes, tears, and thousands of miles of traveling really wore me out. However, I am very happy to finally be in Brussels. I have gotten myself this far, and it can only get better from here. Tonight I have plans to go out to dinner and drinks with other members of the program who are here. I can't wait to start making friends and getting settled in.