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 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.”