Valley Overseas: My Bizarre First 48 Hours Abroad

It is a fact of life that not all things go as planned. Finding your way in a new country can be terribly nerve-wracking, especially when it seems the powers of the universe have turned against you. Anyone who has traveled abroad can surely agree—settling in a new country is in itself an adventure. But just as things don’t always go according to plan, it’s another fact of life that it gets better. Here’s how one Valley writer stumbled through her first 48 hours abroad.

So… I hopped off the plane at Vienna airport with a dream and my cardigan.

In all seriousness, after being delayed for eight hours at Newark airport plus an eight hour flight, I was more than ready to land and get settled in to my home for the next month. Naturally, after what feels like a million hours of traveling, I was tired, desperately needed a shower and wanted nothing more than to sleep.

I sailed through customs in Vienna and waited anxiously at the luggage carousel for my average, black suitcase to appear from the uncharted world of TSA. Five minutes passed, then ten and I had yet to see my bag. I tried to convince myself that it was totally normal that everyone already collected their luggage and I had been watching the same two bags circle the carousel for fifteen minutes.

I finally drummed up the courage to go to the information counter, only to find out that my luggage was still at London Heathrow airport and wouldn’t be delivered to my dormitory for a couple more hours. Trying to stay calm while simultaneously coping with the language barrier, I filled out some minor paper work and made my way to the terminal exit.

Okay, I think to myself, it could be worse, this is just a minor bump in the road.

As promised, my luggage arrived a few hours later. I checked into my room and began to make my self at home. Did I mention that Vienna was having their hottest summer and there was zero air-conditioning? I should have known then I was clearly in for a rude awakening.

I soon learned that I had a much more imminent problem to deal with the following morning when I woke up with itchy red dots on my legs. “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” is a saying that you should not take lightly. Yes, I was the only person in our group of six students that had the pleasure of sleeping with bed bugs. I was instructed to put all of my clothes in the freezer and switch rooms from the first floor to the ninth floor(as if the heat could not get worse).

All the while, I couldn’t help but think that the other Penn State students I was just meeting thought me to be unbelievably unlucky or just plain crazy. However, they were all very sympathetic toward my situation and assured me that nothing worse could possibly happen and that things are going to turn around in my favor.

Alas, the plot thickens.

As I helped my group prepare dinner in the communal kitchen our second night in Vienna, I let out a scream. I had felt something jab into the side of my neck. Everyone looked at me like a legitimate lunatic. I had just been stung by a wasp.

At this point all I could do was laugh about it because I was seriously living through quite the series of unfortunate events. Was karma taking retribution on my life for something I unknowingly did? Did I piss off someone in a past life who was now taking vengeance in the form of insects? Whatever it was, I was attempting desperately to hold on to my sanity and wait for an upturn of events—which I can promise eventually came.

In retrospect, I am thoroughly impressed with myself for not jumping on the first plane back to America after the beg bug incident. These bizarre occurrences showed my that I have the ability to prevail over difficult times in order to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

My first 48 hours were in no way an accurate representation of my magnificent experience abroad. I could not have be more grateful for having the opportunity to travel. Plus, I now have a few more funny stories to share with friends and family upon my return to the States.