Ich bin da! I'm here! After just finishing a wonderful dinner with Theresa and her family surrounded by the lush foliage of their back porch, it's hard to return to the stress of 24 hours ago!
Here's a recap: My flight to Newark was delayed 3 hours due to "heavy air traffic" (in other words, certain air traffic controllers weren't being very effective!). Thus instead of leaving at 3:35, we were scheduled to take off around 6:15. Nearly everyone around me at the gate began loudly complaining, calling family or colleagues, and in some cases even making a scene at the front desk and leaving in slim hopes of finding another flight. Meanwhile, I checked my flight statuses online and realized this inconvenient adjustment gave me less than 30 minutes between when our flight would land and my flight to Frankfurt would take off.
Mind you, this exact same situation happened to Noelle and I last year with our Newark connecting flight to India. But I don't think we had such a stressful time crunch!
Along with a young man traveling to Delhi in a similar situation, we went up to the front desk to see if there was anything that could be done, but alas, the airline personnel were all cold-hearted and worn out from all the complaints. But then this well-suited older man who was standing at the gate gave us advice about Newark and making a (relatively) quick transfer from one side of the airport to the other for our international flights. Apparently he used to work for the airlines and he still traveled quite frequently - I didn't get all the details about him because I was too distracted with the looming possibility of missing my flight.
Everything felt so disorderly in those moments of anxiousness during the longest 1 1/2 hour flight I've ever experienced, and the panic of running through the airport with my backpack askew, dodging wandering toddlers and wheelchairs. Yet somehow everything managed to fall into place. The guy going to Delhi and I were in the same row, so together we spoke to the stewardess who gave us the privilege of getting off first (we had explained ourselves to so many different people that it seemed the majority of the plane was aware of the situation anyway). Knowing about the shuttle saved us two trips through security and a trip through the entire airport.
Of course, my gate was at the furthest end of the furthest branch of the terminal, so running was the only option. The whole time I'm praying for a delay as my backpack's swinging in all directions and digging into my shoulders. As I came up to the gate I was immediately relieved to see lots of people (some definitely looked European) - my flight had indeed been delayed until 8:45. But they started boarding a few minutes after I had sprinted to the finish, and I hopped in line as soon as possible to settle into my seat!
The rest of my trip went quite smoothly - I sat next to a German boy about my age named Alex who was returning home after 9 months in the states, and we had an engaging bilingual conversation (though admittedly I'm still tripping over my German, while he had barely any trace of a German accent). I actually slept on the flight because for once, there wasn't a baby to wake me up. And thankfully, the Frankfurt airport and train station were so organized and well-labeled that I had no problem getting my rail pass validated and hopping on a train to Freiburg.
Theresa's house is beautiful: back from the street, tucked away under the arms of grapevines and other lush foliage. Three stories are connected by a winding oak staircase to create the feeling of individual apartments - my room is on the top floor next to Theresa's. Then of course there's all the European amenities which I find charming - unattached showerhead, square light switches, multiple trash cans for proper recycling - though I'm sure I'll grow used to them in the coming months.
Theresa leaves for India on Thursday, so we'll spend our next few days together exploring Freiburg on bicycles - the preferred mode of transportation around here, it seems. I'll even get to ride a bike to class every day - it's one of the many things I'm looking forward to in this enchanting city.
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