“And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
As I am writing this I can hear the Fourth of July fireworks going off somewhere in the background, which means it has already been four days since I left home! So it is about time I should update you all on the past few days, which have been so crazy I am already struggling to keep up… So here we go!
New York, New York…
On Sunday afternoon I got on a flight to New York. At first that sounded really cool but when I actually got on the plane I was so nervous I could barely get my food down. I was on a flight to New York! When I think about going to places that are too good to be true, New York is actually my number one on the list. But once the doors closed there was no going back. In only seven hours I was going to touch down in one of the most overwhelming cities I could think of. Why did I want this again? AND WHY DID I GET ON A PLANE AGAIN?! For the ones who don’t know, I am absolutely terrified of flying. Every move, every sound, every look on the flight attendant’s face can stress me out so much I need to do breathing exercises to calm down again. But once again, I got myself together, got on the plane and after seven long hours I got out on the other side of the Atlantic. I was in New York!
And as it always goes when traveling, my carefully planned schedule already went down the drain as soon as I was on the escalator down to Customs. What a queue! I arrived at Customs around 6.30pm, one hour later than expected, and got out around 8. The officer then asked me so many questions about my stay, I am suprised he let me through. But a few hours after arriving at JFK I was already gobbling down a hamburger at McDonalds (for some reason they don’t have the regular burgers we have in the Netherlands?) and running for the AirTrain to get to the shuttle station.
Fortunately a very friendly driver from Jamaica was waiting for me to get me to the hotel. It was my first time checking in at a hotel by myself, so I was a little nervous. Note to self: make sure your creditcard is not at its limit… Almost had to spend the night on the streets if they didn’t have a wonderful ATM inside the hotel. Pfeww. Needless to say, I was sound asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Final destination (for now…)
The next morning I had to get up early, because breakfast was only available until 9am. Which was no problem, since my strong jetlag had me awake since 4am. I sat myself down in the hotel breakfast area and quietly observed the Americans having breakfast. I was already in awe of how much these people could get down so early in the morning. There were waffles, eggs, sausages, bagels, muffins, toast and luckily for me, some fruit. After packing my suitcase again I was on my way back to the airport, checked in my luggage and got on a flight to Charlotte. Not gonna lie, I felt pretty badass navigating the US on my own. In Charlotte I had a three hour layover before my final flight to Florence, South Carolina. Since Florence is not that big, the plane didn’t have to be either. In fact, it was so small there was not enough space for life jackets. So in case of an emergency landing on water, we had to rip the bottom seat cushion from our seats and float on that… yeah. Obviously, I did not have a lot of faith in the plane, but after only a very smooth 20-minute flight I safely arrived in Florence. My new home for the next ten weeks!
At the super small airport in Florence, Rolf and his son were already waiting for me. On our way to my new apartment Rolf showed me all the good places to grab some food, the sports park where people can play some tennis and some of the many, many churches here in Florence. And about those places to eat… on the 20 minute drive to the apartment I already spotted Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Little Caesars, Chuck. E. Cheese’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Hardee, Domino’s Pizza, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Pizza Hut, Subway, Carl’s Jr., Chick-fil-A, Bojangles and KFC. Really, the amount of junk food here is overwhelming! And these are only the chains I’ve heard of!
When we arrived at the apartments, my new roomie, Silvia from Argentina, was already waiting outside. Rolf and Silvia showed me my new place which is quite typically American. It has a small kitchen, a living room, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. I share my apartment with Silvia and Shinee from Pakistan. Silvia doesn’t speak English so it is a nice opportunity to practice my broken Spanish. In the apartment across the hall there’s Sarah from the United States and Raquel from Bolivia, who also doesn’t speak English. After meeting my new roomies and getting to know the apartment a little bit it was time for me to get rid of my jetlag and go to sleep. USA, so far you’ve been great to me.