After an immense 34.5 hours of travel time (including all of the layovers and plane and bus rides), the SFS group finally made it to Warawee Center just outside of Yungaburra Queensland (one of us without any checked bags). Unfortunately for me, Jet Star decided to delay my bags in Sydney for a day. I felt too exhausted and grimy to worry about not having my luggage. All I wanted to do was take a shower and sleep after driving on the wrong side up the windiest road I had ever been on, the Gillies Highway.
Although I make it seem as if getting to Australia was a nightmare, in actuality, the trip wasn’t that bad. Ok. Well that’s not completely true. My American Airlines flight from JFK to LA was borderline awful. The flight was almost six hours with not an ounce of entertainment, or should I say “good” entertainment. At least I had Kim, another student in the program, to endure the boring flight with.
Before I continue, I have to say one thing; Qantas is the best airline I have ever had the pleasure of flying on. This airline made a fifteen hour flight feel like nothing. Between the pillow, headset, personal screen, leg room, and not to mention the phenomenal selection of movies, I was occupied the entire flight. I got the opportunity to watch five movies: Inglorious Bastards, Taken 2, The Departed, Pulp Fiction, and The Hangover. Actually, I didn’t get to watch all of Pulp Fiction. Such a shame the flight wasn’t an hour longer.
With the whole group together, our last task was getting on the domestic transfer from Sydney to Cairns. Easy, right? After clearing customs and baggage claim, I realized I left one of my bags on a chair next to the conveyer belt. The bag only had my laptop, camera, USB, and no luggage tag on it; no big deal. Pretty much had a heart attack running back to Qantas in order to bang on a steel door until someone answered. I told the assistant where I left my bag, and waited while I thought to myself that the bag is probably gone because someone was bound to take it. Luckily, she came around the corner with my backpack and all I could do was smile. Definitely not the best way to start off my arrival in Australia. (My parents are probably reading this and saying, “We told him not to forget a bag.”)
How many SFS students does it take to find a connecting domestic flight? The 25 of us did not know we had to take a taxi to another terminal in order to fly with Jet Star not Qantas, even though our itinerary said Qantas. With four minutes left to make last boarding call, Jet Star checked all of us in and passed us through security. Here’s a situation no one wants to be in: running through a foreign airport with your belt and laptop in your hand, carrying two backpacks, while your jeans are falling down to catch your flight. In the end, we all made it. The program hadn’t even started yet and we had already experienced our first adrenaline pumping adventure in Australia. I can only imagine how crazy the rest of the trip is going to be.
(After being in Australia for the past few days, I learned that the SFS center has a limited data plan. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to upload pictures, but I am going to try my best to go into town in order to use the unlimited WiFi to upload pictures every week. In addition, we still don’t have our own WiFi set up, which is making it incredibly difficult to add hyperlinks as well (we have four student computers for 31 students) Bear with me.)