The time leading up to my great American adventure flew by with Christmas, New Years and my birthday smashed into a few short weeks. Packing was an emotional roller coaster ride, if you really want to challenge yourself try fitting your whole life plus winter clothes into two bags. (tip #1 roll your clothes and you fit a lot more!)
3rd Jan – final touches
Hungover, lost and under prepared. Recovering from last night’s birthday bash and trying to salvage any signs of being prepared to fly to the other side of the world in the morning. Last minute touches in packing, buying a new laptop and fitting in the last quality meal thanks to mums shout.
4th Jan – departure
Waiting anxiously in the Virgin line with mum and friends waiting to say final good byes once checked in sharing our concerns and excitements over my last burrito in my home land.
Landing after the 17-hour flight at 6:30am in warm and sunny LA with not one wink of sleep was rough but this wasn’t going to get in the way of me making the most of a 13-hour layover. After briefly wrapping my head around the public transport system I managed to catch the sun rise and quick nap on the Santa Monica Pier, got convinced to pay a guy $1 for a bad joke, stereo typically walked the Hollywood stars strip with a Starbucks coffee and even bartered for a half price stars’ tour around Beverly Hills ($25), yes I now know where Justin Bieber and Beyoncé live. (Tip #2 put your luggage in transit if you have long layovers and that way you don’t have to lug them around also If you’re going to LA for a day I don’t recommend booking a day tour as the cheapest I could find was $150 US dollars).
Next was my 6-hour flight to JFK in New York with a brief layover time before flying to Syracuse, both of which were night flights which weren’t too bad. That is apart from being seated next to the door which had a broken air vent so it was freezing, a dog sitting in the row behind me and a medical emergency which meant someone was taken off the plane in a stretcher and the lingering smell of vomit. By the time I got to New York I was desperate for a shower. JFK had a lounge but $60 to use the shower just wasn’t an option. (tip #3 always carry a washer, deodorant and a tooth brush for a quick freshen up)
5th Jan – Clarkson here I come
Landed in the morning at Syracuse airport – a very secluded and uninteresting airport making the wait until 5:30pm for the bus all the more enjoyable. The bus to the small town of Potsdam where the University is located was a cold (tip #4 don’t wear a leather jacket in a cold climate because it just makes you colder!) and dark trip. By this point, of all the people I meet first in America it was two Aussies that were also going to the same University which was great to get to know some new faces.
I stepped off the bus around 10pm to a snow blanketed campus shortly followed by a massive slap to the face by the -20oC climate.
At this point I realised I’d managed to plant myself in the real life Narnia of New York, definitely one of the things you forget when get wrapped up in the excitement of the big apple!
Well in this case, Potsdam, a not so big apple but happiness is in the small things and I really got the impression I was going to like this place.
The bright and bubbly student that picked us from the bus reassured us we would get used to the cold – an impossible thought at the time. A quick trip to the city they call Walmart to get some bedding was insane, one does not simply enter Walmart and buy one thing. FINALLY, back on campus and in my cute little apartment and ready to sleep for a century but sadly not – instead orientation at 9am.