Touchdown in USA

Saturday, May 20, 2017

On August 25, 2016 I wasn’t sure this day would ever come! We had a bit of a struggle getting on the plane in Florence to Rome. The airport was filled with American study abroad students at 4:30 AM! Italy’s inefficiency stood out as we tried to check our bags. They were very strict on the weight of checked luggage and carry-on bags. If you had an extra bag or overweight baggage, you had to get in another line to pay for the baggage before going back to the check in line to receive boarding passes. Nearly everyone had overweight baggage or more than one checked bag! I was so close; Colleen, Krish, and I went through my checked bag at 3 AM, throwing out as much as we could. My checked bag was underweight, but my carry-on was over 😦 I paid the $100 to check it.

The issue with the baggage line is that their credit card machines weren’t working. They had to call each individual person’s credit card company to make the transaction. It was a mess! We were in line for 2 hours, and people’s whose flights were before us (I’m talking 5 minutes before) got to cut the line. It was a bummer, because we spent our last hours in Florence feeling frustrated and impatient when we should’ve been more sentimental about leaving. People who didn’t have baggage dilemmas boarded the plane on time, but we didn’t end up leaving until everyone had squared away their bags.

The plane was empty, and as the wheels left the runway, Carrie Underwood’s “See you Again” played on shuffle while I had one last glimpse of the Duomo (definitely a sign I’ll be back). I won’t forget that image.

We had a short layover in Roma; it was the first time I realized how large the airport is. Before we knew it, we were boarding! The plane was large (3-4-3 set up), and I had an aisle seat for the 8.5 hour long flight. Colleen was right behind me. We both took Advil PM and passed out! It was the first flight of my life that I actually slept decently on.

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We landed safely in JFK and all stayed together at baggage claim. We bid our farewells at the pick up area; it was so nice seeing all the families anxiously awaiting to see their kids. I spotted my parents and a smiling Kiara enter the door as I wished Steven a happy birthday! I started crying as soon as I saw her. I knew the tears would come at some point. It was quite the reunion.

My dad did a great job of driving out of the city. We stopped at Panera and Sears on the way home (it was late afternoon), and I dozed with Kiara for the rest of the car ride home.

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My room looks exactly how I left it. Although you can never really go home again, there’s no place like home. xo ~ e.

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