The journey to Germany from Los Angeles was, to understate, not perfect. My itinerary was as follows: a nine hour flight from LAX to Dublin, seventeen hour layover in Dublin, two hour flight from Dublin to Zurich, and an hour train ride from Zurich to Konstanz. Prior to departure, I was quite anxious; flying, especially across oceans, has always made me nervous. Despite my fears, the flight to Dublin was relatively easy. No one was in the seat next to me and I managed to sleep for about an hour. Once I got to the Dublin airport, my next task was finding the shuttle that would take me to my hotel for the night. With little knowledge about where the shuttle was, I walked in circles around the airport for about thirty minutes, always returning to the Arrivals section of the airport to capitalize on the free airport wifi in the hopes of gaining even a little clarity on where I should have been going. After finally working up the confidence to ask someone where the shuttle was, I trekked to the shuttle parking lot on one hour of halfhearted sleep.
The hotel was nice enough, and despite my plans to head into Dublin and see what I could in the short time I was there, I slept through the afternoon and into the night. The next morning, I woke up to catch the shuttle back to the airport to make my flight at 7 am. Getting to the airport was much easier than leaving it. My nerves finally began to settle as I sat at my gate, knowing that the next leg of the trip was going to be even more stressful and I would need all the energy I could to endure it. The journey from Dublin to Konstanz involved a language other than English and a very tight schedule and both of these aspects stressed me out. After boarding the plane and becoming settled, the pilots announced that a computer of the plane needed to be replaced, which would set us back about thirty minutes. My flight to Zurich was supposed to arrive at 10:30 am and my train to Konstanz left at 11:40, so I knew that this would undermine but hopefully not ruin my schedule. Once the computer was fixed, the pilot announced that we would be another thirty minutes late because of airfield regulations. Doing the math in my head, I realized that catching my 11:40 train was becoming less feasible. I desperately tried to reconnect to the Dublin Airport Wifi long enough to tell my buddy, who was picking me up at the Konstanz train station, that I would be taking another, later train and consequently would be late to pick up my apartment key, but could not get my messages to send. Despite all of the setbacks, I knew there was nothing I could do for my two hours in the air and tried to calm down. We arrived in Zurich at 11:30 and I hurried through the airport only to meet a very, very long line at customs. Although I am usually a patient person, the fifty minutes spent in line at customs was enough to drive me crazy. Moreover, I tried for the full fifty minutes to connect to the airport wifi to get in contact with my buddy to no avail. After finally getting through customs, I had fifteen minutes to collect my baggage, buy a train ticket, and then catch the train. Luckily, these processes ran much more smoothly than the other parts of my adventure. Safely on the train, I worried that my buddy was concerned about my arrival and that I wouldn’t make my appointment to pick up my keys. With no data or service, I could only stare out the window at the Swiss countryside and hope that telepathically my friend knew I was on my way. As the exhaustion and stress washed over me, I thought back to my last meal in the United States: overpriced airport Chinese food. the fortune that I got in my cookie was this:
“You don’t have to be perfect to live your dreams”
While I initially overlooked the small piece of paper, I came to realize during my very long travel weekend that that statement could not be more true. Most of the aspects of my trip to Germany were complicated, stressful, or askew, but they were leading me to my dream. My long layover, delayed flight, and bad wifi were not perfect, but they were necessary to get me where I wanted to go. I was not perfect, but I was living my dream!
Since then, I have arrived in Konstanz, moved into my apartment, and started my orientation at the university. Although nerve-racking, I know that the things I have done and the things I will do here in Konstanz will be some of the best parts of my young life. I cannot wait to start classes and delve into my imperfect life in Konstanz!