Hello South Africa; we safely made it!
Though I was very excited about studying abroad in South Africa, there were some issues that I was just as concerned about. They were (1) being able to pack one bag for a four month stay, (2) being able to endure the long flight to South Africa and (3) being able to endure a four month stay without getting homesick.
With today being my first day in South Africa, I unable to rate the final success of my packing. I probably won’t be able to rate my success until the end of the trip; then I’ll be able to determine what I could have left and/or what I should have brought. I can say that it was successful enough to pass the weight requirements of the airport, which I was truly worried about. Before we left home, my son weighed my luggage on the scale and said I was 10 pounds over. I was so distraught from stressing on what to bring and what not to bring, I decided that I would have to pay for the extra weight. So when I checked in at the airport, put my luggage on the scale, I was ready to pay an enormous charge. The scale said 26 kilograms and the representative did not mention paying an extra fee; so whew, I passed!
The other concern with my luggage was that I had a carryon bag and a tote bag, which was also a luggage violation. We were told that we could only bring one carry-on bag. Yet, I felt I need to bring a blanket and some snacks that could not fit in my luggage. Again my son was the parent, reminding me that I could not carry on two bags. Again, because I had been so stressed with packing, I concluded that I had to take my chances. And again it worked; no one said anything about my two bags!
I love to travel, but I hate to fly, which generated my next concern; the long flight to South Africa. Be six feet tall and a bit overweight has always caused flying to be a challenge for me. It’s like folding this large body frame into a compact space and holding it for hours! Initially, I was under the impression that it would be a 20 hour flight; 10 hours to London and 10 hours to South Africa. I was mistaken about the London flight, because it only took 5 ½ hours. The other 5 hours were due to the time difference in the States and London; so again, another triumph! I was very surprised when the pilot announced that we should prepare for landing. I thought, “What; that didn’t take that long!” Then I looked at my watch and realized that it was 2:00 am at home and it dawned on me, “Oh, it’s a time change; so, it really wasn’t a 10 hour flight!”
The treat of our travel was our layover in London, England. We were picked up at the London International Airport by Golden Tours and were guided by an exceptional guide tour, Drew Davis.
He was very patient and knowledgeable about London. He drove us were we needed to go, walked us to our destination, purchased our tickets for us and waited for our return. We toured the Tower of London, the Crown Jewels and the London Eye. We ate a to-go lunch from Ted’s Fish & Chips. Never in a million years did I think I would ever travel to London. As Amber said, “Well, well, well, would you look at this; we are in London!”
The flight to Cape Town from London was a little over a 10 hour flight and it was hard to endure. The first problem was my seat was a window seat, which meant I had to fold up even smaller. What helped my situation was that I was seated next to a really petite lady that was not only nice, but helpful as well. She was born in Cape Town and was returning home from being in the United States for six years. She was not one of those people that got agitated being seated next to a big person and when I accidentally touch her. She helped me feel a little better about sitting in the window seat. Additionally, she had to show me how to operate the controls on my seat panel for the TV.
Though things went better than I had anticipated with getting to South Africa, I arrived with excruciating lower back pain. I clearly hear in my head, my son’s most important requests; “Mom, don’t be the one that can’t/don’t keep up with the group!” Now that we are here, my challenge is getting rid of this back pain in order to keep up with the group, participate in everything (except swimming with the sharks) and successfully accomplishing the daily challenges of studying in South Africa.