Goodbyes, Airports, and the Kindness of Strangers
All good things come to an end, and it was sad to say goodbye to the city of Reykjavik and the country of Iceland as we headed to the airport at 6am. My friends were catching a flight back to the US while I was heading onward for a weekend trip to England before finally heading to Florence to begin my semester abroad there.
Saying goodbye to my best friends in the airport and watching them walk away knowing I wouldn’t see them for four months was really sad, but I’m so glad I had the memories of Iceland with them to cherish. Since their flight was at 10:30am and mine was at 3:30pm, I had quite a bit of time to kill in the airport so I caught up on some reading and writing (of these blog posts!). I also started editing a huge video recap of our entire trip, since we had been taking mini vlogging videos throughout our time in Iceland.
My flight was on Wow Air, a budget airline, and I have to say that I really wouldn’t recommend – although the fare was cheap, it was such a hassle dealing with self check in and their annoying baggage policies that I wish I had just flown Icelandair again instead.
I slept the entire plane ride and arrived at London Gatwick Airport after about 3 hours. I then collected my two full size suitcases and proceeded to struggle through the airport with all my baggage – also would not recommend making multiple stops in different countries while lugging around all of your suitcases packed with items for living abroad for four months.
Luckily, so many kind people throughout my journey helped me and made it much more manageable carrying my luggage around the train stations and up the staircases. I was in awe of the kindness exhibited to me in London – every step of the way someone had offered to help me, something that’s foreign in New York City where everyone is too busy rushing to their next destination and minding their own business for the most part.
In the airport, I was struggling to take my two full size luggage and my carry on and backpack off of a cart to shuffle them through the train gates that said No Trolleys Past This Point and the worker came over and told me it was alright, I could keep the trolley, and proceeded to help me wheel my luggage down to the correct platform. Then, when I arrived at Farringdon station, a kind young woman offered to wheel one of my large bags for me and directed me towards the lift, instead of me having to haul my luggage up the stairs by myself. At London Liverpool Street station, a man helped me carry my bags up the stairs to street level, and another kind man helped me carry my baggage down into the national rail station. We struck up a conversation about his culture and being from Mauritius, which is off the coast of South Africa. He even offered to stay with me until my train came and got me a bottle of water and a sandwich and refused to accept payment, saying that talking to an interesting person from America like myself was priceless and something he couldn’t buy.
Feeling really touched by these encounters, I boarded my final train to Norwich and arrived at my destination after about two hours. My friend Kieran’s father picked me up from the train station and as I was getting into the car, I instinctively went to the right side of the car for the passenger seat, totally forgetting that they drive on the opposite side of the road in England. That was just the first instance of me having to adjust to a different cultural norm, which I’d have to do many many more times throughout the semester.