Things I Don’t See At Home: Dumbest Question I Ever Asked

One could say I’ve asked many dumb questions in my life. Former professors could attest to this. One of my famous (but serious) questions occurred in biology class during community college. I asked, “How do birds drink?” I remember beaks, puddles, and tilting of the head.  Well, at least now I know what they’re really doing in those birdbaths; drinking bathwater.

I and water

One day at dinner in Munich, I saw this: a small metal tray with a cup of what looked to be coffee and a very small glass of clear liquid.   I didn’t know if it was coffee with a shot of booze to be added at your own taste – coffee with a chaser – or hot chocolate with some sort of liqeuor. Or what. It just seemed odd.

A few days later, Pat and I went to a café after dinner in Salzburg. He ordered beer and I ordered a camomile tea. And it happened; I got the little metal tray with hot tea and the little glass of clear liquid. I was baffled. “What is this mysterious liquid?” I thought to myself. “How fascinating!”   I looked at Pat and said “Oh wow. This is what I saw the other day. I wonder what it is?” So I felt the outside of the glass. Cold-ish. I smelled it. Nothing. So I took a big leap and dipped my tongue into the glass. Water. Tap water. Huh? What am I supposed to do with this glass of water? Is the tea too hot to drink? Am I supposed to drink the tea, then get all refreshed by drinking the tap water as a chaser?

SO – here comes a waitress to see if things are okay. And, this is when I ask the big question. Waitress: “Is everything going fine?” (or some other sweet version of “Is everything okay?”) Me: (indicating my mini-water) “What’s this for?” Waitress: (looking at me with confused eyes) “It’s water.” Me: “Yes, I know. What should I do with it?” Waitress: (looking at me as if I’ve lost my marbles) “You drink it.” Me: “Oh. Okay. Thanks.”

This poor waitress probably found her fellow servers and told them about the idiot American woman who just asked what she was supposed to do with a glass of water. Then she probably went into the bathroom and banged her head against the wall. As for me, I sat dumbfounded. This, after I was done laughing at myself. And feeling sorry for the waitress. This dumbfoundedness turned into outrage. I thought “Seriously? Are these Austrians mad? They wasted a tray to bring out this pansy-ass glass of water? Why not bring complimentary toothpaste and a toothbrush to go with it? That would be the perfect after dinner spritz-up and spit it out in the bushes type deal.

afro coffee closeThe next morning we went to a restaurant for breakfast – and it happened again. This time it was my coffee that came with a glass of water. But alas, this glass of water was a bit bigger. And ha ha – this time I knew what to do with said water. And – this coffee mug was SO cool. I looked around and noticed four different patterns. It was called Afro coffee. afro coffeeMy mug said “You call it coffee, I call it a lifestyle.” I thought, “Wow, my girls would really like these. When the waiter comes by I will ask him how much they cost.” I thought that was better than “Wow, these are really cool…. Will they fit in my purse?”

So, the idiot that I am (apparently when it comes to items involving drinking liquids) asked said waiter the obvious question: “How much would it cost to buy the coffee mugs?” Long story short: it would take an act of God to acquire these mugs as the maker of the coffee supplies them and it would probably cause the restaurant to shut down if they sold me two of them and then all tourism in Salzburg would come to an end and then the world would stop spinning.

No cool coffee mugs for Dawn. Idiot.

Last night we ended up at the “dumb question” cafe. Pat had more beers and I had more tea. Again came the tray. Again came my Dixie-cup of water. This time I told the waiter about my waitress faux pas from the previous night. He explained that if I wanted a bigger cup of tap water, they’d charge money for it. Baffling. It’s cheaper to buy beer.

coffee pic


Things I Don’t See At Home: Where Do I Stick This Ticket Shania?

ubahn ticket

My U-Bahn ticket from today. I did time stamp it, though nobody ever checked it.

One thing I told my students last year was they’d be really confused sometimes while travelling. This was one of my “mommy lectures” –  inspired by one of my students’ memoirs about getting off a bus at the wrong time. He was on a MegaBus to Penn State and didn’t know the Grand Old State stop consisted of a pit stop at the local Wal-Mart. He was expecting the columns of Old Main and the roar of the fight song. Instead he got a drop-off on the side of the road and a long walk back to campus.

I’ve been on subways in many cities. The common denominator among them: you buy a ticket or card of some sort, then stick the ticket or slide the card at a turnstile. Not in Germany. You just buy a ticket and get on the train. No turnstile. It’s just you and the honor system. It’s just you and the honor system until the uniform brigade shows up in your subway car and asks to see your ticket. Pat and I saw one lady get busted. I think they wrote her a ticket. Sounds like a reality show in the making: U-Bahn-ers Gone Rogue…. in dirndls.

peugeotSpeaking of the U-Bahn (subway), there was one station we couldn’t get out of. Sure, I’ve been confused inside many subway stations. Sometimes the underground mazes go on forever. But Pat and I just wanted to get out. We found the Ausgang (exit) sign and started walking. We ended up near a bunch of S-Bahn (above ground) train tracks. No exit in sight. We finally found an exit at the very back of the station. Of course this was near the parking lot of a grocery store we’d been looking for all day. A store called Kauf-something. And – that grocery store was still nowhere to be found (sign but no store). At that point we just had to figure out how to get back to the hotel and Pat just had to pee in the bushes.chevy

porscheWas Ist Das Auto?

We’ve seen lots of cars on the autobahn that you don’t see at home: the Frenchie cars like Citroen, Renault, and Peugeot. For some reason, the pink carPeugeot logo looks like an awkward lion walking like Frankenstein. Of course there are loads of Mercedes, Audis, Porsches, and BMWs. If I were someone who really cared about cars I’d be in a constant state of drool. Me? I see an American car with some odd name and say “A Chevy Matiz?! A Ford Mondeo? Where in hell did they come from? Where are all the Honda Accords?” Well, I can tell you. They ain’t on the autobahn.

green bmwAs we are driving we are listening to lots of German radio. I do remember this from when I lived here: lots of American music cool bmwmixed with German stuff. And for some unknown reason, they love them some Shania Twain. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some Shania Twain too, but it’s just odd. Perhaps it’s because she owns a chunk of Switzerland and it’s just next door?

ugly mercedes

Ever seen an ugly Mercedes? Here ya go.

Well, at least today I didn’t use the men’s bathroom. Man, I feel like a woman.

Things I Don’t See At Home: Unisex Bathroom that’s Really Just the Men’s Room.


Oh! The Men’s Room!

Yeah.  Well shit.  I just used the men’s bathroom.  My clue was the “Herren” sign on the door I saw on the way out.  Perhaps my first clue should have been the long-haired guy combing his hair at the sink upon first arrival.

Pat and I had met a woman for lunch yesterday at a lovely placed called the Literature Haus in Berlin.  After a lovely sea bass entree, I went downstairs for a lovely afternoon pee. I saw a door with the international bathroom signs:  the stick man and stick lady with a skirt.  “Aha – a unisex bathroom!” said my feeble mind – I’d experienced this before.  “This is Europe,” I thought to myself – “anything goes – coed naked saunas, Coke without ice, beans for breakfast,” so I went through another open door and saw the guy combing his hair at the sink.  I didn’t make eye contact.  My general impression was that it was a guy with a mullet or a very homely woman.  My other impression was “Dang, this place really smells like pee!”  So, I peed – and as I washed my hands I noticed a bunch of urinals in this unisex bathroom.  I thought “Seriously? It’s a real free for all around here – women have to be subjected to men at the urinals and vice versa; men have to pee in front of women?”  I turned to leave, and as I did I saw the open door I’d gone through.  It said “Herren.”  “Men.”  As I kept walking into the hallway, I saw the poor guy who had been combing his mullet.  He was probably waiting for his woman.  His woman:  the one who can read.

I went upstairs and sat back down with Pat (hubby) and Nathalie (his business associate – she’s German).  I told them about my escapade into the world of men.  Poor mullet guy.  Nathalie explained that there aren’t any unisex bathrooms in Germany.  Good to know. I must have been in France.  And I am sure I was in one in NYC in 1984.  Damn clubbing days.  During my giggling fit, Pat told us about his visit to Amsterdam bathrooms (airport) where the women clean the urinals right next to where you are urinal-ing.  But that’s Amsterdam.  That’s a whole other story:  the women at airport security always get to second base with me but always skip first.


Our dirty plates and empty glasses

Another thing I’ve noticed, no matter where I’ve been eating in Germany, is the really different table service.  I don’t want to say it’s slow as if that’s a negative thing – but it’s certainly slower.  For example, in the U.S., one barely finishes the last morsel of food before the server removes the dirty plate from the table.  Not here.  You can finish your entree and the plate will sit.  Indefinitely.  A few nights ago my leftover trout grew an exotic fish fungus right before my eyes.  Meantime, empty beer glasses are another familiar scene.  Again, in the U.S., one has only sucked the head off a beer before the server is pushing another.

My guess is the prompt service provided to U.S. diners leads to better tips.  Fast beer and quick coffee = better tip.  And the constant clearing of dirty plates is an implicit way of saying “C’mon, you’re done eating – chop chop! Don’t want dessert?  Don’t let the door hit ya in the ass on the way out.”  And then the server deposits the bill at the table and says “Whenever you’re ready” which really means “I’ll be back before you’ve had time to check  your teeth for spinach.”

I had a long chat with a German man tonight (another business associate of Pat’s).  He said a 12% tip is automatically included in your bill here in Germany.  He said they will never bring your check until you ask for it.  When you sit down at the table to eat, the server assumes it is your table for the night.  They don’t expect the table to turn over. I am guessing they make less money overall – even though they make $8.50 Euros per hour.  Adding another 5% tip is fine if you’d like.

I admit I did enjoy the slower dining pace.  It’s not that it was a new experience, but for some reason I noticed it this time- probably because I was ready for dessert – and that fungus-growing trout was giving me the evil eye.


Things I Don’t See At Home: Pope Selling Shoes

pope shoe Today we left Hamburg and drove to a city called Luneburg.  It’s quaint and old looking.  And cool.  But before we left, we went to a mall.  I took some pics and made some observations.

The first observation at the mall was that if you just sat there and watched folks go by, you may think you were in the U.S.  Things looked pretty similar:  McDonald’s, a food court, lots of stores, many levels.  They even had a Build-A-Bear Workshop.  The differences:  first off – the female gestapo stationed outside the WC.  I got the feeling that I damned well better drop  a Euro onto her dish before or after my visit to the tankless toilet.tankless terlet

Another diff – no obese people.  I noticed many people jogging and riding bicycles yesterday as we walked through Hamburg.

Another really cool thing about the department stores that I remember from the old days (1984) was that department stores have really cool grocery stores in them.  So we picked up a plug adapter for our computers…. and groceries.  How great is that?  You can buy a dress, heels to match, a six-pack of Beck’s, and a hunk of cheddar.  We need to work that deal at Macy’s.

I noticed a bunch of teen-ish guys outside smoking.  Nearby, at their table sat bottles of beer, Coke bottles, and Hollister bags.  Another thing you won’t see at a U.S. mall:  teen-ish guys drinking beer.teen beer

dog in mallDogs.  Dogs at the mall.  No need to leave Gunther at home. No need to leave Gunther in the car.  Just bring him in.  He’ll tell you exactly how your rump looks in those jeans.

After dinner in Luneburg we went window shopping.  Shoes.  The Pope and shoes.  I’ll have to go back there tomorrow when they’re open.


Luneburg – across from our hotel.



Things I Don’t See at Home: The Weiner X-ing

red penis lightPat and I got to Hamburg earlier today.  We found a good place to eat dinner on TripAdvisor – the Liman Fisch Restaurant. Since we were both exhausted, we were glad it was only a 1.5 mile walk from the hotel.  On our walk I was taking stock of many things:  One thing I love about traveling is the little things that are just a bit off.  Just a bit different.

I lived in Hamburg in 1984 when I was a youngster model.  It was nice to be back; walking around Lake Alster – remembering the beautiful city scape. One thing I don’t remember are the penis crossings. green walk man

One thing I do remember from my travels is that the crosswalk signs are often different.  For example, here in Germany and other parts of Europe, the “walk” guy is green instead of white.  That seems to make good sense as green does mean “go.” Anyway, these red penis crossing signs are all over town, just as the green walk man is all over town.  And, the red penis crossing sign does turn green!

Am I to understand that men are not allowed to cross at certain times but are allowed to cross at other times?  Red = stop and Green = go?  Men stay where you are and women come on and cross the street?  Men, you can cross when the red penis turns green?  OR – men, if you have a particularly inflamed penis, come on across?

Anyway – you can see how this created sheer bedlam for us on the way to Liman’s Fisch Restaurant.  Pat  kept getting stuck at the crosswalks! We finally made it to dinner and it was fabulous and fresh.  Afterwards, we took a stroll downtown and went window shopping.  Both Pat and I found perfect outfits for this Fall’s Oktoberfest party.  The only problem; six windows-full of dirndls for me to chose from – but only one window for Pat to choose from.  Hamburg was pretty lean on the lederhosen.  It was a rough day for Pat.lederhosendirndl

Megabus Mayhem by Ross C.

Wal-Mart parking lot

            Don’t get off the bus in New York, I remembered my dad telling me as I sat next to my best friend Luke as the Megabus sped away from the Walmart bus stop in State College, PA. I had no idea what I was going to do. Should I go up to the bus driver? Maybe I should just go back to sleep and then I’ll just deal with the situation when I wake up. I had some money, but I was not sure if it would be enough to get through a night in the Big Apple. As I was having my mini panic attack inside, Luke was panicking too and yelled, “Just freaking do something!” as he pushed me out into the bus aisle. Immediately I got up and started to make my way toward the front of the bus.

It was a few days before Halloween Weekend 2012 and I was going to visit my brother at Penn State for the first time to see the Penn State-Ohio State football game as well as enjoy all that PSU had to offer. I asked my brother if I could bring a friend; more specifically, Luke because he was my best friend and we were both considering Penn State as a future school for next year. My brother said sure and Luke and I decided we were going to go up Saturday morning and come home Sunday afternoon. We got our Megabus tickets on Thursday for 8:00 am Saturday, and my mom was going to drive both of us to the Megabus stop in the morning. The bus goes from Pittsburgh to New York and passes through the Penn State area, then loops around and passes back through Sunday afternoon.

It was Friday night and I was packing at home when both of my parents gave me the “Be Careful” talk. My mom starts off the conversation by saying, “Now Ross, we know you don’t want to hear this, but just be careful when you are up there. Your brother can be a real idiot and I would not put it past him if he just left you and Luke to fend for yourselves in State College because he couldn’t remember what stop to pick you guys up from, or what time to get up and get you guys”. I replied, “Okay mom, I’ll be careful,” when really I thought, Seriously?! I’m almost eighteen I would think I could handle myself by this point. My dad then chimes in: “Now I know you don’t have hardly any common sense and when you and Luke are together I try not to even think about what you fools are doing, but can you please promise me that whatever you do, do not end up in New York”. This time I actually said, “C’mon dad, you are talking to a kid who has like a 3.8 GPA, I think I can accomplish the task of getting off at the right bus stop”. “I’m just telling you” he responded. I was actually stunned that my parents thought that I was incapable of completing daily tasks. It turns out that they would be right about what they thought, but that’s beside the point. I finished packing and I went to bed eager to get up in the morning and head to Penn State.

At about 7:30 am, my mom and I picked up Luke and we were then dropped off at the bus stop about ten minutes before the bus arrived. I had with me my backpack which had a couple school books in it for the illusion to my mother that I was going to do homework, my phone charger, a change of clothes, and a shave kit. Luke had his backpack with similar items in it, and he also brought a sleeping bag because he did not know where he would be sleeping at my brother’s apartment. He had to put that in the cargo hold of the bus before we got on because it was too big to bring with him to his seat. My mom waved goodbye to both of us and yelled before we got on the bus, “Have fun! But be Safe!” We both laughed and yelled back, “Okay!” and we were on our way to The Pennsylvania State University all on our own. As soon as the bus ride got underway, we did what any sensible teenager would do that early in the morning: we slept. We basically slept the whole way until we arrived at the Walmart that is in State College. We got off and Pete, our African-American bus driver who I could tell was not particularly happy with his life choices that led him to be a Megabus driver, told us we were going to take a fifteen minute break, but he did not specifically say that this was the stop for Penn State. We left our stuff on the bus, got off, and stood around until Pete was ready for everyone to get back on. We got back on the bus and sat down. Now we knew we were close to where we had to be because it was 11:00 am and we knew it took about three hours one-way, but we did not think that a Walmart was the bus stop for State College. We thought we would be dropped off right in the middle of campus. The bus started up again and off we went again. About ten or fifteen minutes later, Pete gets on the loudspeaker. He says, “Alright everyone, next stop New York!” At that same moment, Luke and I look at each other and have the same expression: “Oh Shit”. I could not help but think about what my dad said the night before, “Do not get off the bus in New York”.

When Luke pushed me into the aisle, I had to make my way down from the upper portion of the bus to the lower front of the bus where Pete was. I think that he was a little bit surprised that someone had gone up to the front to say something to him because that was obviously not the norm. Stumbling over my words I managed to say, “Uh yeah, we need to get off the bus”.  He just looked at me and said, “Well if you have anything in the cargo hold, I can’t get it for you”. Without even thinking I shouted, “Okay that’s fine!” I motioned for Luke to come up to the front of the bus and Pete let us off about a mile and a half away from the Walmart stop. When Pete let us off, everyone on the bus was just laughing hysterically at our expense so that was nice. I called my brother to tell him what happened and of course, I woke him up so he could not have even picked us up because he was not even there. He laughed about the situation, and told me he would be there in a few minutes. While Luke and I were walking back to the Walmart, Luke said, “Hey wait, I forgot my sleeping bag!” I answered, “Yeah, um the bus driver said that he could not get anything from the cargo hold so it’s basically gone”. “That was my favorite sleeping bag, dude,” he said. I said that I would buy him another if he cared so much for it, which I could not believe. We made it back to the bus stop, where my brother greeted us with laughter, but we made it to State College. I really wished I had known that the bus stop was actually at a Walmart rather than right in front of Old Main like I had imagined.

We chilled at my brother’s apartment for a short time after which we went to the football game. It was my first Penn State football game, and it was awesome. PSU ended up losing, but it was still sweet. Then we chilled at the apartment and got the “real” tour of Penn State from my brother and his roommate. My brother also had his buddies from high school up for the weekend, so it was an all-star lineup of about eight people in a 350 square foot apartment. To sum up the Saturday after the bus ride, I couldn’t really say because I do not remember much past 8:00 pm.

Then came Sunday morning. I somehow managed to get up at 10:00 am because the bus was scheduled to arrive to pick us up at 11:15 am. We had to get on a bus in State College that would take us over to the Walmart where the Megabus was. Even with the grogginess, we were actually good on time on getting to the bus stop, but naturally, the bus did not show up until 11. I’m thinking to myself on the bus ride over to Walmart, It would only make this trip perfect if we had to sprint to the stop just to get on the bus. And my second thought was, “Please do not let it be Pete driving”. Well, we got off the stop and across the parking lot sits the bus with Pete just closing the doors getting ready to go. Luke and I leapt off the first bus into an all-out sprint to catch Pete and the Megabus. I heard over my shoulder from my brother, “See ya!” but we kept running. We flagged down the bus and got on with Pete chuckling a little to himself. Yeah, it’s real freakin’ funny buddy, I thought as we climbed onto the bus. Again, Luke and I both slept the whole way on the bus ride back to Pittsburgh. This time though, we actually recognized the bus stop in Pittsburgh and we able to get off at the appropriate time. My mom picked us back up and she asked how the weekend was and I just said to wait until I get at least three more hours of sleep. Later, I told her and my dad the whole debacle, and of course they laughed and gloated about how they were right. I could not say anything because they were right; I am not as smart as I thought I was. Luke and I almost managed to go to New York City. Unreal. I do not have the slightest idea about what we would have done if we ended up in New York. I wish I had actually listened to my parents about how to be careful and conscientious of my surroundings rather than waiting until the bus is already moving to New York before I ask to get off.


Wilkommen in Deutschland by Brian B.

UnknownThe medics were speaking to me in German, a language completely foreign to me. I just stared at them with my mouth open practically drooling with confusion. I had no idea what was being said. Everything sounded Chinese to me so I just nodded in agreement.

Junior year became one of the most exciting school years of my life. Each summer, the history department at my high school hosted a trip to European countries so students could experience the history they had learned about all year. The trip my junior year was ran by EF Tours and was scheduled to visit Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, and France, the place I wanted to go to more than ever.

My parents knew that it was always my dream to travel to Europe since I was in eighth grade. I begged every year. I offered to go on my own. I looked up the price of flights and hotels on a daily basis. My number one on my Christmas list to “Santa” was always “A trip to Europe.” But, every Christmas I woke up to no surprise trip. However, things changed this Christmas.  Christmas day I woke up at 7am because I still get as excited as a four year old on Christmas morning, even if I am just going to open boxes upon boxes of new clothing. As I finished opening my final “gift,” a new pair of American Eagle boxers to be exact, all I could think was Woo…boxers. But suddenly, my mom said “We have one more surprise for Brian.” I became so anxious that my four-year-old instincts kicked in. My dad then brought out a giant wrapped box with a huge red bow on top of it. I ripped that gift apart so fast you would not have even believed it was wrapped in the first place. I threw the shiny wrapping paper covered in snowflakes and the big red bow to find a silver suitcase. “A suitcase,” I said in a disappointed tone. “Why don’t you look inside of it,” my mom said. I opened it up to find a smaller suitcase that contained an even smaller bag. Inside that small bag was the best news of my life. I opened the bag to find a note inside. I slowly opened the note crease-by-crease getting more excited than ever. I flipped open the last fold and read in capital letters, “I HOPE THIS COMES IN HANDY IN EUROPE!” I went berserk. I screamed. I ran around like a dog chasing its tail. I hugged my parents. I hugged my sisters, which never happens. I hugged my new luggage. I felt on top of the world.

My parents explained that I was able to go under one condition: I had to come up with half of the money for the trip, which was roughly one thousand five hundred dollars. Luckily I have been saving money for this trip since my freshman year. I dumped my entire bank account out of my Penn State piggy bank: a mix of coins and checks saved up from working at Panera Bread. I then lived the typical high school student life for the rest of the school year, bankrupt.

Each week my teacher, Mr. Smith, had weekly meetings to prepare us for our trip.  Luckily, my four best friends, RJ, Chris, Nick, and Chris were going on this trip with me along with three sophomores, Frankie, Mike, and Rob and two seniors, Shane and Tom. My teacherinformed us that we were paired with three other American groups for our trip: a girls group from Florida, another high school from Colorado, and a family from Minnesota. We were most intrigued by the Florida group. At these meetings, we would talk about our agenda and the various cities we would visit like Berlin, Prague, Lucerne, and most importantly Paris. Every time someone even mentioned the word France I smiled. I was so obsessed with a place I had never even been to before. It was only a few months away until I would see the Eiffel Tower, until the bad news came.

Flash forward to our last meeting before the trip. I was sitting there talking to my friends like usual until my teacher walked into the classroom. “So everyone has their passport correct,” Mr. Smith said in his sarcastic but stern voice. “We leave in less than twenty days.”  “Umm…maybe not all of us,” Nick says. No surprise there. Mr. Fisher screamed, “Are you serious? You had all year to prepare for this! I reminded you every single week to get your passport, and yet you fail to do this one simple task.” “Uhh…yeah,” Nick answers. He could barely get out words. “Just yeah? That’s all you have to say,” Mr. Smith says glaring at him. Nick went silent. “For everyone who will be ‘definitely’ going on the trip I have some news for you,” while still staring directly at Nick. “Unfortunately, due to other planned family vacations for the summer, we will not be going to Paris.” My heart sunk. I was pissed. The one place I always wanted to see was ripped away from me. How could I go on this trip knowing I will never step foot in France when I know I am so close to it? I tried to stay positive.

The day was finally here. I was going to Europe for the first time ever. My parents drove me to the Philadelphia National Airport early that morning. I was probably the only person who was excited to be dropped of at British Airways rather than the common Southwest Airlines. I was not even there for five minutes before I was reminded that I never converted my American currency to euros. Great. Problem number one. I will just worry about it later. I said my “See you later” to my parents because according to my mom, “Goodbye is forever.” I checked in my bags, and made my way to the plane with the group.

The plane ride to London was the longest drag of my entire life. I was never so bored, and the worst part was that I could not sleep at all. Eight long hours of fun awaited me. I tried entertaining myself watching a horror movie. Why a horror movie I do not know. Bad choice. Nothing is worse than waking up the strangers next to you every few minutes from jumping in fight. I tried to sleep. It did not work again. I tried to force myself to eat the disgusting chicken curry British Airways offered us. Nothing could entertain me. I felt trapped in my two-foot wide seat with these two strangers on both sides of me. I finally found something to entertain me. By the time that happened, morning came, and we were only twenty minutes away from London. I could barely contain my excitement.

We landed safely in London, but then realized we only had twenty-five minutes until our connecting flight left for Berlin, Germany. A man in a neon-orange vest met us as we got off of our plane. We went into a sketchy, underground tunnel like we were celebrities hiding from the paparazzi at the London Heathrow Airport. Our next flight was on the complete opposite side of the airport so we sprinted the entire time. Here comes problem number two. We arrive at security breathing heavily. I pour my bag into a bin, send it through the conveyor belt, and get through security successfully. My teacher is screaming, “HURRY UP,” at me. I dump the bin filled with my charger, EOS Chap Stick, wallet, camera, and schoolbag onto the ground and scramble to pick everything up without putting it in my bag. I tried to wait for RJ but he screamed, “Go without me!” like we were in some drama film. I looked like Kevin McAllister from Home Alone sprinting alone through this foreign airport bound to get lost. I somehow made it to my flight with two and a half minutes to spare with the other chaperone, Mr. Smith’s brother, Chris, behind me. I took a seat on the plane sweating profusely, tried to stop panting for air, and then we began to pull away from the terminal. Problem three: we are missing half of the students and Mr. Smith. Only Tom, Shane, Frankie, Mike, Mr. Smith’s brother and I made it onto the plane. Nick and Chris were stopped by security and received “the pat down.” RJ missed the plane by a minute, and Mr. Smith was just left behind. Just when we thought nothing else could go wrong the unthinkable happened. Ten minutes in I was sitting there happily drinking my orange juice when I suddenly noticed a scent I smelled before. I knew exactly what was coming next.

Forty thousand feet in the air my nose instantly started gushing blood. Are you kidding me right now? I tried stopping it with my hand, but that only made it worse. I got up and ran to the bathroom at the back of the plane. I was in there for at least half an hour when a flight attendant finally knocked and asked if I was ok. Do I look ok? I have blood all over my shoes and shirt, and mynose has been bleeding for forty minutes now. I hope that answers your question. “Yes, it’s just a nose bleed,” I said in a sweet voice. The two women tried to explain a technique that would stop the bleeding, but it made no sense to me. I was more fixated on their British accents than the blood gushing from my nose. A British man took my information like I was checking into a hospital, but he could not understand my American accent. I would say “1-0-8-1-8,” and he would interpret it as “1-0-A-1-A.” We went through the numbered address at least ten times before we made any progress. Our plane finally landed, and my nose was finally beginning to stop.

I was getting up from my seat when an announcement was made in three languages that no one could leave the plane. All of a sudden I heard sirens followed by an ambulance and fire truck arriving at the plane. No way. This cannot be for me. In the next minute two German medics entered the plane and rushed to my safety. All heads whipped around and gave me their direct attention. I kept saying, “It’s just a nose bleed! It’s just a nose bleed!” but no one cared what I had to say. The medics were speaking to me in German, a language completely foreign to me. I just stared at them with my mouth open practically drooling out of confusion. I had no ideawhat was being said. Everything sounded Chinese to me so I just nodded in agreement. After digging through their kit, the medic pulled out an ice pack, and he put it on my neck. An ice pack…we stopped the entire plane and called an ambulance for an ice pack! My face turned beat red out of embarrassment as the entire plane still stared directly at me. I wish I never got on this plane. I was never so embarrassed in my entire life. Because of this, Shane and Tom officially crowned me with the nickname “Gush” for the rest of the trip.

I was finally allowed to leave the plane and go through customs, which was entertaining itself. It was my turn to up to go through check in. I hand my passport to the customs worker, he looks at my photo, and then looks up at me. He entire facial expression changed. There is blood all over me, and I look like I just caused blood shed on the plane. I gave an awkward smile because I did not know what else to do. He stamped my passport and said “Willkommen in Deutschland.”