I feel like half of the fear of studying abroad comes from the getting there bit. Airports are kind of intimidating. There are so many things to remember, especially when you’re traveling alone! You have to go through security, find the right gate, and double check that you’re at the right gate because there’s a flight leaving from the same gate before yours. Then, when you get to your layover, you have to find the right terminal. Who knew that Terminal “I” didn’t exist and I actually needed to get to Concourse E? Not me! And then to the right gate. Plus, you have to drag your luggage EVERYWHERE, otherwise the airport police will take it. The real price of safety is the luggage you forgot to take with you to the bathroom. But, I made it to the Santiago airport, luggage in hand!
But… I think we can all agree that the scariest part is customs. Many people just check “nothing to declare” and walk through. I, for the first time in my life, did not (some may say that was my mistake). All of my host gifts were food items, and most of them fit into the “agricultural products” section of things you have to declare. When I got to the front of the line, the customs official asked what I had, and I told him about the honey and dried fruits and nuts I had. He motioned for me to put my luggage through the scanner. When it rolled out the other side, he told me to take the honey out of my bag. Trembling a little bit, I did. He told me I couldn’t bring it into the country and I had to hand it over. I gave it to him, unsure of what would happen next. If you’re wondering what happened, absolutely nothing. He just took the honey and waved for the next person to put their luggage on the belt. I walked out of the airport, a jar of honey short, but otherwise unscathed. So I’m here to tell you that I survived two large international airports and a customs stop, and I promise it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be! It’s just the first adventure of many that await.