Traveling to Manchester was not too bad. I got to the airport in Raleigh, North Carolina, at 10:30 am. I did not want to run into any problems. Everything went very smooth. My bag was two pounds over and I didn’t know if the airport would let me through without a charge. They notified me it was overweight but that they would let it slide. The gentleman next to me was not so lucky. His bag was eight pounds over and he was charged $100.
My flight left at 1:30 pm and I landed in Detroit at 3:00pm with a three-hour layover. I knew my next flight would be long, so I walked terminal A three-times, B one time, and C once. Boarding the flight to Amsterdam took a very long time. I am not sure why but after an hour and a half we were all settled in. The flight was smooth, and the food was fine. We arrived in Amsterdam at 8:30 am.
I learned enough Dutch to get around but when I entered the terminal, I realized most words were in English and the overhead speakers were also English. It was nine in the morning and the pub in the airport was already full of people drinking beer! This took me by surprise, but I loved it. You cannot escape Holland as there were tulips and clogs in most stores! This is funny since Michigan is based on actual Holland, but I view it as Holland is the same as Michigan as Michigan is what is familiar.
So, Amsterdam customs….was a lot. First, I went to a self-check in kiosk and got an updated physical ticket. I already had a physical one, but I got a new one with updated information. Then I stood in a line of 200+ people all waiting to go through customs. I stood in this line for 2 hours! Once I got through the line, I walked up to the first person, there are twelve cubicles, and they had to check if I had all of my COVID-19 documents and tests. From there, I was sifted into two lines to get my passport checked. Mind you, my flight had been boarding for half an hour now. After that, I had to book it down 23 gates to my gate, 26. A few more stressed-out Americans from the New York flight joined me to load onto the plane. The flight took an hour and a half and landed at 10:30 am.
When I arrived in Manchester, I was guided through customs. I was pretty sure I was supposed to go the other way, but they told me to keep going. At the end of the line, I talked to the Security guard who told me I was supposed to go into the other line. Lucky me, he took me to the front. This means I skipped at least an hour of customs. I picked up my luggage and met the taxi driver who was sent to pick me up and we drove about an hour to Liverpool.
In the evening, all of the participants in the program had a chance to meet each other for the first time. We are split into two flats. I live with two Swiss boys, two Swiss girls, and one French girl. The other flat has the other seven students. Out of everyone, I am the only American. This means I have not heard an American accent all week! I think I am more likely to come home with a French-Swiss accent. Being the only American is great and what I want out of an abroad experience, but it can also be hard as groups from the same country have formed. Everyone is very nice in both groups but do not always speak English. This can make it very hard to be a part of the conversation, know when to speak, and can be a little overwhelming at times. However, I am learning to speak French and Swiss-German! Pour moi, je n’entre pas dans une nouvelle culture mais dans trois en une.
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