An Irrational Worrywart Flying Alone From Newark to Oslo, Norway — The North Star Reports – by Jonia Gordon. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal
Editor’s Note: this is a part of a special series from Jonia Gordon, a talented student who is studying in Oslo, Norway for the Fall 2015 semester. Jonia is a thoughtful writer, as well as a talented artist. The illustrations that accompany this article are also by Jonia.
All summer my parents would ask “Are you getting nervous?” The reason they asked me this question was, come August, I would be studying abroad in Oslo, Norway for 4 months. In all honesty, I wasn’t that nervous—though the constant question stirred my nerves each passing day—as it was still a very abstract concept for me.
The summer seemed to speed by and that meant time to pack. I started to pack three days before I left, which was coincidentally, the latest my parents would allow me to put it off… I had two large suitcases and a travel backpack to fill with everything I would need for a third of a year. It was a moment of peculiarity. I was packing with the knowledge that—unlike college—I could not simply go home or have my parents bring the things I forgot. All at once, as I sat surrounded by piles of clothes, I realised just how permanent it felt. As I stuffed my luggage with clothes for all sorts of weather (thank goodness for storage saver bags!), toiletries, and necessities, the fear that had trickled in all summer was starting rain upon me.
(Note: An eye-catching luggage is very easy to find (left) at baggage claim, whereas the more conspicuous one (right) can lead you to reach for luggage you thought was your own but really belonged to a Norwegian family.)
Nevertheless, I was proud to have fit everything (or so I thought) that I needed in the three bags I had chosen for my luggage. The day before my flight, my family and I packed everything up in the car, I said farewell to my grandfather and then we were off. The day seemed to pass in fast and slow motion all at once as the next day arrived: Departure Day. The rain of fear that I was talking about earlier; yeah, that fear was now drowning me.
We had an early sit-down breakfast before we went to the airport. My family (parents and older sister) helped me to get my luggage checked and then led me to the line for security. We shared hugs and my mother cried—then we found out I had to go to a different security checkpoint and repeated the whole thing again. They left as I waited in life for my turn to go through the scanner and I tried to focus on anything but the fact that my family was leaving the airport without me.
The first flight I had was from Minneapolis, MN to Newark, NJ and it went fairly well. Though there were a few moments that could have gone better: (1) A person giving me my ticket which had fallen behind me, (2) I (in reaction to 1) checked my carry-on 4 times before looking for my gate due to an irrational fear that I had forgotten my passport, and (3) having to lug my bag everywhere with me was a hassle. Due to it not being my flight out of the U.S., I didn’t have that much anxiety about it. After arriving in Newark, I had a 5 hour layover—45 minutes of which was spent wandering around trying to find my gate—and the rest of that wait was spent munching on overpriced airport food and listening to people speak in Norwegian.
After the long hours passed, I finally stood in line to board the 8 hour flight to my destination. Rapidly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe and all sorts of irrational thoughts sprung about my mind in flurried movements. I could just not go, fly home, and never think about it again. Or what if I’m on board the plane that—despite a low probability—crashes into the ocean and I die. All sorts of scenarios rampaged my mind (each more and more unlikely and unrealistic) and then I was boarding the plane.
I, unluckily, had a middle seat. It wasn’t a terrible experience; however, I didn’t sleep as I feared I would end up sleeping/leaning on of my seatmates and had to frequently get up throughout the flight so that my window-seatmate could use the washroom. The flight was long and I had foolishy not charged my iPod battery—leading me to simply stare ahead at the seat in front of me as the in-flight media was not working. The food wasn’t the best, but I didn’t feel like eating anyway. I just wanted to land safely and proceed with my life. When I did land and go through customs, baggage claim, and finding my professor, I was ready to sleep for half a day. Instead, we proceeded to get our keys, move-in, meet all the people in the program, and go to IKEA. My professor strongly suggested that we stay up as late as possible so that we could adjust to the time change. I went to sleep at 23.30. Thankfully, I adjusted within two days and was able to start enjoying the adventure that is studying abroad.
(Note: though I have to go through this again when the 30th of November comes…)
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, Colombia, Norway, northeastern China, Nicaragua, Micronesia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, El Salvador, England, Finland, Russia, Cyprus, and Haiti. We also publish student reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.
Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu