Most people that go to Notre Dame study abroad. Something like 85% of people. I was that homebody 15%. I always tell people that going to Notre Dame was my studying abroad. Seriously. I loved it and really came into my own and met some of the most amazing friends a person could ask for, but all of it was SO foreign to me. The culture, the tradition, even the way people lived their faith. So, so different. Thank God.
And thank God that I never wanted to travel internationally because I was horrible at traveling. H-0-R-R-I-B-L-E. Here are my top 4 most memorable moments of traveling:
3. Coming home my sophomore year, I knew the lay of the land a little better. Instead of the bus shuttle, I was taking the train that took me all the way to downtown Chicago where I just had to climb some stairs to catch the El that would take me all the way to O’Hare. Easy peasy. I knew I had to cut down on luggage so I opted for a backpack, small carry-on and a duffle bag. I know! At the time I considered that packing light. What I failed to realize is that the duffle bag was approximately the size of a body bag and I filled it so it was just as heavy as one. Don’t even get me started on the fact that I decided to only bring luggage that had to be carried and absolutely nothing that had wheels. Hello, McFly!
I got off the train in Chicago and faced going up stairs to get to the street level and then getting up another huge flight of stairs to get to the El. And it was rush hour so the streets and the stairwells were packed. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Thankfully people always helped and gave me a hand with my bodybag, I mean, duffle bag by grabbing the other end and we would carry it up together. I had so much luggage, I couldn’t fit through the turnstiles to get on the train. I had to get the attention of the MTA worker behind the glass and have them open the handicap entrance for me. Ugh. I was so dumb. Once I somehow got to O’Hare and checked my luggage, I plunked down on a seat at my gate and it took at least an hour for my arms to stop shaking because my muscles had never exerted themselves that much in their whole lives!
2. My junior year came around and I vowed to never overpack ever again. I packed a medium-sized rolling luggage that was small enough that I could check and a backpack. I thought I was so brilliant. I caught everything in time. I caught the train just fine; I got to O’Hare with more than enough time. I stopped and ate a magically delicious breakfast burrito. I found my gate, saw the city was Houston, and it had a flight number that matched my ticket. Perfect. I sat down and looked at my watch. My flight wasn’t leaving for another hour and a half. I thought I was sitting pretty.
“I totally have this whole travel thing figured out. You know what, I’m so early, I think I’ll take a little nap. So I positioned my luggage in front of me and put my head on it to doze off for a bit.”
But I didn’t just catch some zzzs. I went comatose. I passed out. I woke up an hour later frantic thinking I had missed my plane. I checked my watch. Oh, thank God, still half an hour until boarding. Then I started to look around. Everyone that was sitting around me was different than the people that were around me when I fell asleep. I checked my watch again. No, I should be leaving in 30 minutes. Then I looked at the gate and Houston was not on there anymore. Oh no! They must have changed the gate. No problem, I still have time to ask what the new gate is and run over to it. So I grabbed my stuff and went up the the gate attendant.
“Hi, I’m on the Houston flight, can you tell me the new gate for departure.”
“Miss, that flight left half an hour ago. You missed it.”
“No, it says right here on my ticket, the flight leaves at 4pm and it’s only 3:3o.”
“No, mam, it is 4:30pm.”
Doh. [face palm]
I had completely forgotten to take into account that South Bend, Indiana used to not observe Daylight Savings Time. South Bend. That jerk.
1. Finally we arrive at senior year. There is no way I am making any mistakes. None whatsoever. I’m packing a small rolling carry-on and a backpack. That’s it. Of course, being senior year, my procrastinating had reached its peak. During those finals before Christmas break I had managed to pump out a 15 page paper in 5 hours and it was my capstone paper for my Peace Studies Minor. I say that only so you can imagine how much sleep I had gotten. The night before my flight I had set out a few things but was so exhausted I decided to wake up early to pack. A friend was going to pick me up and drive me to the train. I slept right on through all 3 alarms I had set and all 10 of my friend’s phone calls telling me he was downstairs. I finally woke up when he was knocking on my door. Shit! (I’m pretty sure I screamed that when I woke up and saw what time it was.) I opened my door and basically threw my luggage at him and told him to throw whatever he could find in there while I did my best to look somewhat presentable to travel. We jumped in his car and raced to the train. We pulled up just in time to see it pulling out of the airport. Seriously, we missed it by 1 minute tops. He, being a kind and generous man, offered to drive me to Michigan where it would make its next stop to pick up more passengers. If we could beat it there, I could still catch it and get to O’Hare. I pretended not to notice that he was driving about 95 mph. It’s a miracle we made it. Alive. Really the funnier part was that I had just become friends with this guy a few weeks before. He was probably just trying to be nice by offering me a ride to the airport and I made him pack my bag and drive me to Michigan. So embarrassing. And I really hope when I made him help me pack he didn’t pack any of my underwear or bras. That would really make this memory a lot more unbearable.