• Joelle Otterstedt

The Craziest Travel Day Ever

Traveling from Springfield, Oregon to York, England was the craziest travel day I have ever had. This journey took a total of 27 hours. By far my longest travel day, and I was insanely anxious about it. In fact, I could not think of a single thing that would make me more anxious than traveling for more than a day in crowded airplanes. I would be less anxious getting on stage in front of hundreds of people. The day started with a 2-hour drive in our minivan to the Portland airport. After security and some lunch, we got on a short and bumpy flight to Seattle. I was very nervous to get on this plane and start the long journey. We were only at cruising altitude for 5 minutes or less, so it was a lot of straight up and down with a fair bit of turbulence. It was a short flight, but I got fairly motion sick from it.

We got off and found our next gate pretty quickly. I tried to get a little bit to eat and drink but felt so bad it was hard to. Braden and I walked away from Hannah to go find the bathroom, and I completely broke down. I faced away from the walkway so less people could see me have a full-on panic attack. I’ve had a couple of those in the last year or so, but never in front of people. It was kind of embarrassing, but at the same time I almost didn’t care. I couldn’t help it. I was crying uncontrollably, trembling, and struggling to take full breaths. I truly did not think I would be able to make it through the next 10-hour flight. I felt so terrible from the first one that was only 45 minutes. Braden helped me calm down a little bit and we made our way back to our gate.

Once again, I squeezed Braden’s fingers as hard as I could during takeoff, and continued to squeeze them any time the flight got bumpy. This flight was so long it just seems like a blur. Even at the beginning of the flight I was feeling kind of dizzy and nauseous, but I tried to keep myself distracted to make the time go by faster. I didn’t want to read or watch tv, afraid those things would make my motion sickness worse. I went back and forth between audio books, podcasts and music. That lasted maybe an hour or 2, then we all played a game of go-fish. At some point the cart came along with meals. They got pasta with a roll. I didn’t feel like I would be able to eat that, so I just snacked on some food I brought in my backpack.

A few hours into the flight, Hannah, and many other people, fell asleep. I wanted to sleep so badly to make it go by faster, but I just couldn’t. Any time I closed my eyes, everything around me would spin. I just sat there staring off into space, trying to listen to something to keep myself preoccupied. Braden stayed awake with me to make sure I was doing alright throughout the flight.

With a couple hours left, I started to feel even worse. I’ve never experienced dizziness or nausea like that. I started to get really hot, which continued to make me feel worse and worse. Braden went and found me a cup of ice, and we both tried to cool me off. Once I cooled down, I started to do a bit better again. For the last hour, I watched the screen of the person in front of me count down how many minutes we had left until landing.

We spent half of our layover in Paris going through security again. I was incredibly dizzy and lightheaded this whole time. I was swaying when trying to stand still and stumbling when walking. I accidently knocked over my suitcase into the woman in front of me while we were standing in line. We found our gate. I forced myself to eat again, because I knew I had to. I also decided to take some Dramamine. I feel like if there’s a possible side effect of a medication, I tend to get it, so I was very hesitant to take it. At this point in the trip though, I was desperate enough that I would try anything to make me feel better. The Dramamine definitely had an effect, because while we were on the plane waiting for take-off, I could barely keep my eyes open. I fell asleep mid conversation, and slept the majority of the flight to Manchester. I was so happy I finally got some sleep.

We had a couple hours to kill in the Manchester airport. Then we met up with a group of other exchange students to get on a coach and drive 2 and a half hours to York St John University. We finally made it around 8:00 p.m. local time and got the keys to our flats. We hadn’t eaten in a very long time, so Braden and I found some food at a small convenience store before going to sleep.

Getting here was honestly a miserable experience that was full of anxiety. I was dizzy and couldn’t stand without feeling like I was going to fall over for days after getting here, but I’d do it again if I had to. It has only been 3 weeks and it is already worth the long journey here. Living in a different country is such an eye-opening experience. It still feels surreal that I am actually here right now. The crazy journey here also makes smaller trips seem like no big deal. Aside from it being fun, I also made more progress regarding my anxiety in the first 3 days here than I had in the past 3 months. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to be here.

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