My Life in College: The perils of traveling
Moral Mildred/Sun Star Columnist
January 29, 2013
This week, I would like to share with you what I did during my break, specifically my trip to Germany. I know two wonderful specimens of the human race that live in Munich, and I saved up this past semester, because Skype and Facebook just aren’t enough sometimes. I had a fantastic time, but what I really want to talk about with you guys, though, are the parts about traveling that aren’t wonderful. So here they are:
1. Waiting: The fact that I am about to complain about this isn’t overly original. But I am not a very patient person, and the act of waiting for anything makes me want to scream. Waiting for laundry to be finished, waiting for the microwave to beep, waiting for a real person to answer the phone when I’m talking to a robot–I hate all of it. Airports though, invoke a special kind of waiting. Not only do you have to sit and wait for hours at your gate, sitting on a plane is basically just waiting too. You are waiting for the plane to take off, then waiting for it to reach cruising altitude so you can use your iPod, then waiting for the bathroom to be free and finally waiting to enter descent. My trip to Germany was especially disgusting. I flew out of Anchorage to Seattle; Seattle to Vancouver; Vancouver to Amsterdam and lastly, Amsterdam to Munich. It was over 25 hours of waiting. By the time I made it to Vancouver, all my excitement had shriveled up and I had decided that when a person dies, instead of going to hell, they sit on a plane and do those exact fights in that exact order.
2. Currency: Besides the less than fabulous exchange rates, being thrown into a different currency is actually more difficult that one would expect. Have you ever bought something at a gas station for, say, $5.27? We don’t even blink as we reach into our wallets and pull out the exact change. Do you know how hard that is to do when you are using a foreign currency? I had no idea what the value of all these little coins were, unless I physically took them out and looked at them. Do you know how long that takes when all you need is seven cents? A really, really embarrassingly long time. I believe there is no other way to scream, “I’m a foreigner!” then when the cashier asks you for change, and you have to dump your wallet out on the counter in order to thoroughly examine each coin like a mad scientist.
3. People Assume You’re One Of Them: Obviously, this wouldn’t apply if I had gone to the Middle East or somewhere in Asia, but since I am a white girl that visited Germany, my white girl status was nothing new. In fact, if I didn’t open my mouth or try and pay for anything, I blended in quite well. This was kind of cool, because I sort of felt like a spy. But also left the door open for a lot of embarrassing encounters. People would come up to me on the street, blabbering away about something, and I would just stare at them in semi-horror, knowing that as soon as they took a breath I was going to have to embarrass both of us. One time, this sweet old woman was handing out flyers to people walking down the street, so of course my initial reaction was to run away and hide. But I also have no sense of direction, so veering off any path I happen to recognize is not a good idea. I did my best to look inconspicuous, but this elderly woman stopped me and started chatting, pushing a piece of paper into my hands. I had no way to tell her I didn’t want her piece of paper, so I did the only thing I could: smiled and took her offering. I found out a few minutes later that she was a Jehovah’s Witness and she had been trying to “save” me.
I really did have a great, wonderful, fantastic time in Germany. I have never been to Europe before, and I hope to go back in the near future. I hope you all had as interesting of a break as I and enjoy the new semester!