Blog by Shauniece Drayton, Community Psychology, Study Abroad–Zambia
Written on June 21, 2013
It’s always kind of nerve racking to take that first step towards one of your dreams. Butterflies. That’s what I felt when I was sitting at the JFK airport in New York waiting for my nine hour flight to Germany. It was my first time to Germany, and my first time flying alone internationally. I had one eighteen pound backpack that was filled with all my “necessities” for a month, and a fifty pound suitcase that was filled with donations for different schools and organizations in Zambia. Can I do this? Is this really happening? Did I pack everything that I need? I remember thinking to myself I will be away from family, friends, and my life for over a month, which is crazy because I had never been away for that long. Thinking about the next month was daunting, like time itself would slow down while I was away.
I live in Seattle, but I was about to be on the other side of the world in no less than thirty two hours! It’s so exciting to travel, but one thing I had to learn was patience. I had two plane transfers and hours of layovers before I actually landed in Zambia. My first stop was in Frankfurt Germany. The Frankfurt airport was huge, there were plenty of food stores and shopping to do, but I had to keep myself occupied for a 9 hour layover. The best thing about the Frankfurt airport was the showers. After a long flight there is nothing better than the comfort of clean water and a fresh feeling. The people were nice, but I felt so out of place because I stuck out like a sore thumb! I roamed around, had a coffee and sandwich, and then went to a quite area to nap. In Frankfurt every five minutes a person on an intercom will announce upcoming flights that are leaving. This made for an interesting nap, because I would be half asleep dreaming I missed my flight, and jump up only to realize I still had hours of waiting.
The next leg of my journey took me to Johannesburg, South Africa. At this point I was excited because I was on the actual continent of my final destination. Just a two hour flight away from the place I would call home for the next month. Up until this point I had been completely alone. I was waiting in the security line when I turned around and saw two of my classmates who would be joining me on the trip, and I have say it was nice to finally see a familiar face. I spent the next few hours chatting with my new classmates and eating a breakfast consisting of a vanilla latte and a butter croissant. Yum!
After two long hours of anticipation I had finally landed in Zambia. I did not know what to expect when stepping off that plane. I did not know what the air was going to smell like, or what the people were like, but I was excited to find out. Waiting in line at the airport to receive a visa was something that was new to me. When I got up to the desk they asked who I was, my reason for staying, and how long I was staying. The people working the visa desks were all about business. I arrived in Zambia June 23, 2013, my flight back to the states was scheduled to leave July 24, 2013. This of course was just over a month and the airport was only allowed to give out visitor visas for a total of thirty days. They told me that I would have to renew my visa if I was staying longer and gave no further explanation. I was directed to pass through onto the next check point. Feeling a bit overwhelmed and confused about what I was going to do once the time came to renew my visa I moved forward into the baggage claim area. After claiming my donation suitcase and passing through yet another check point area I finally saw Leslie, the director of my program smiling and waving to us in a yellow sun hat. The first rush of Zambian air I felt was when I walked through the doors leaving the airport. This was followed by a high rush of excitement on what I was about to see as well as the people I was going to meet.