Hurricanes, airplanes, and passports
Everything went according to the plan for once. I received my visa & passport back on Wednesday, September 13th, (many thanks go to my wonderful proxy for making it happen), and as soon I had it in my hands I emailed my travel agent so we could start talking about plane tickets.
I knew before I talked to my travel agent that the connecting flights to get to Brazil typically go through Texas or Florida.
Texas was recently hit by Hurricane Harvey and Florida is being hit by Hurricane Irma.
Even before talking to my travel agent, I was curious as to how those connecting flights would work out. Turns out, they don't affect my flights very much. Due to Hurricane Irma, most of the flights out of Miami, Florida were booked for the upcoming weekend, so the earliest I'd be able to fly out would be Monday.
So, that's what I went with.
I leave the Anchorage airport on Monday, September 18th, at 11:55 pm. I finally have a departure date. And it's in 3 days. And it oddly doesn't feel real. I probably won't be able to wrap my mind around the fact that I leave to go to another country until I've landed in Brazil.
First I fly to Denver, Colorado, then Houston, Texas, then Miami, Florida (where I have a 5 hour layover), and then to Brasilia, Brazil.
I arrive in Brasilia at 7:15 am on Wednesday, September 20th. That's if I don't miss any flights, and *fingers crossed* I won't.
I'll be spending a total of approximately 17 hours in the air on 4 different planes.
Now I have to pack. How do I possibly fit a year of my life into a suitcase and a backpack?? I've been preparing to leave for a month and a half now, but I haven't tried to shove everything in a suitcase or two yet. I bought a lot of Alaska gifts (A LOT) so they'll take up quite a bit of room, and then there's clothes, toiletries, and miscellaneous items on top of that. Everything is ready to go, stationed haphazardly around my room, but not a single item has found its way into my suitcase yet.
After everything that's happened with my passport and visa, I can't believe I'm actually going.
BUT I AM SO EXCITED. And nervous, and scared, and happy, and sad, and downright joyful. All of the above really.
My inbound orientation is on September 22nd, so I am arriving in Brazil just in time to go to that. I'll have 2 days to settle in with my host family and then I'll be whisked off to wherever inbound orientation is taking place at. Orientation is cool because it's where I get to meet all of the other inbound exchange students in my district.
My district is D4760, the state of Minas Gerais. The inbounds are spread out all across the state, so this will be my only chance to see most of them. The only other time I'll have the chance to see them again is on trips. There are certain trips like the Amazon trip, the Northeast trip, Pantanal and Bonito trip, etc. that exchange students can go on, but they are expensive and not every inbound can go on them.
I think I should define some of the rotary's terms that refer to exchange students. I didn't know them when I first got involved, and some of you might not either, so here they are:
Outbound: an exchange student waiting to depart to their host country
Inbound: an exchange student that is currently in their host country
Rebound: an exchange student that has spent a year abroad in their host country and have returned home
On September 20th, 2017 I am making the transition from outbound to inbound. I am arriving a month and a half later than I originally thought I would be arriving, but the delay has taught me a lot about communication, advocating for myself, and persistence.
Persistence and patience pay off.
See you soon Brazil.