Someone move the plane!

So I successfully got on my flight to Santiago at about 9:00. Boarding was easy, and since I had so much time and had already cleared security in Boston getting to my gate was stress-free. We were scheduled to take off at 9:50. I was exhausted but I love take off so I was fighting sleep so I could enjoy it. We sat at the gate for ages. The captain said they were just waiting for the last of the baggage to be loaded and we would take off.

Then the captain came back on with the following announcement, “Good evening, folks. We are all cleared for takeoff but it seems that there is another plane on the tarmac that is having some problems and they have parked it right goddamn behind us. As soon as they get that figured out we will be ready to go.”

I was in a haze of tiredness so I’m not sure exactly what time we took off. The flight itself was like 10 hours of suck. I was seated right behind a guy with horrible BO and halitosis, there wasn’t a ton of legroom (being coach and all) it was a long night of very little sleep. Also the plane didn’t have wifi so I couldn’t even pass the time playing Pandemic 2. It was a blessed relief when we landed in Santiago at 9:30am local time (7:30am ET). I did get this excellent pictures of the desert around Santiago from the air.

The desert mountains that surround Santiago as seen through my plane window

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Swag in Atlanta

After a somewhat bumpy flight from Boston I’ve finally arrived in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ll be here for like 8 more hours since my flight to Santiago is an overnighter. So I’m killing time in the Delta Sky Club on the recommendation of a family friend. Wow was that money well spent!! It is quiet, I feel safer than I would in the main airport, there’s better free wifi and free snacks and drinks. If you’re having a long layover I HIGHLY recommend spending the $50 to get in.  I’ve settled myself in a chair with my Shirley Temple and the lunch of champions:

Sky Club Lunch

Apparently champions eat celery sticks, baby carrots, ranch dip, cheese, and graham cookies. And they get to eat them in UNLIMITED QUANTITIES!!

My successful negotiation of my first flight has also boosted my confidence. I feel much more ready to tackle the next leg of my journey and much more excited about the greater adventure to come. I really hope I meet some people from my program at the gate.

So after recharging at the Sky Club I started to get bored so I decided to explore the airport a little. Atlanta is HUGE! I started in Terminal B, where my flight landed, and just started walking and walking and walking. It’s like a giant mall, with shops and restaurants and fast food joints. Then I discovered the Plane Train, which runs underneath the entire airport and runs back and forth from terminals A-F. I had a ton of fun hopping on and getting off at a random terminal to walk around. When I got bored I would just get back on and ride to a new terminal.

I discovered that the walkway between terminals B and C is a small museum of the history of Atlanta, and it featured some actual artifacts from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. such as his sermon notes, watch, the baseball and bat he played with his kids with, and a suit. He was a lot smaller in stature than I always imagined.

So I began to get tired and thought it was high time to move closer to my gate. I stopped at another Sky Club for help because my flight’s gate wasn’t printed on my boarding pass (another benefit of the Sky Club is they will personally help you with any questions you have about travelling). They told me my flight was in F terminal, so I hung out in the F terminal sky club and took a nap in a comfy chair. Then I found out my gate had changed to E, which was no big deal. I got there with plenty of time to spare to wait for my flight!

Good morning Logan Airport!!

Good morning! So right now I am at Logan Airport waiting at my gate to board my first flight, which won’t be even boarding for a bit longer. After an anxious night of little sleep, my fiancee and I were picked up at 5:30am by my mom and dad and sister. Image We made good time to Boston and said a tearful goodbye at security. I was able to check my bag “all the way” so I won’t see it again until sunny Santiago on Sunday. Security was actually a breeze, probably because my first flight is domestic. Now I’m in the slowly filling gate, quietly panicking in a corner. It feels like I have a little person with a squeaky voice who is reciting all the things that could possibly go wrong at top speed, like Alvin the Chipmunk is trying to get me to turn back. You know that sweaty, anxious feeling right before you get a shot when the nurse is getting the needle ready and wipes your arm with alcohol? That’s how I feel. Or maybe it’s just the Red Bull.

Anyway, I will post again after this flight. I have 9 hours to kill in Georgia before my flight to Santiago, so I will be able to compose something lovely and interesting.

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Last 24 Hours

My last day in the states has come at last. My mom came over this morning to help me pack. As you can see I was a little overwhelmed:

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How to fit all of this into one bag?

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How am I going to fit my life into this one bag?!

Finally we narrowed down the pile to what I wanted to bring, plus my carry on and now I am ready to rumble tomorrow! I’ve checked into my first flight already with Delta, but since my second flight is later I won’t be able to check in until tonight. I don’t expect I will be sleeping much tonight anyway, so I am not too concerned. My family is treating me to Jackie’s Galaxy tonight, which is a somewhat trendy Asian cuisine place. They have fantastic sushi so I am very excited for that. Then tomorrow morning at 5 am we will all pile into the minivan to make the pilgrimage up to Boston. I want to arrive in plenty of time so there’s no rush with checking my bags and going through security. I will post more on that tomorrow.

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Feya wants to know “I see you’ve packed all of YOUR stuff, but you forgot to leave room for me and MY stuff!”

Now for those of you interested how to pack your life into one suitcase and one carry on, here are my recommendations:

  1. List!! Making a list helps minimize that “ooh, did I forget something important?” anxiety. Also I found I kept remembering something, running to find it, remembering something else on the way, and forgetting the first thing!
  2. Make outfits. Before my mom came over I laid all the clothes I could possibly want to bring out on the bed (minus undies and such). Things could only come if they fit into a few outfits.
  3. Space makes waste! My grandpa got me these great vacuum seal bags for Christmas, you just fill them up and zip them shut and then roll them and the air escapes. Your stuff is then extra flat and fits much more easily. I’ve also seen tips online about putting small items inside of your shoes to make use of that space.
  4. Think inside the box. Check with your airline about their size and weight limits and double check  so you aren’t stuck with a hefty oversize fine.
  5. Your carry-on is your lifeline. You should be able to survive out of it for a few days to a week if they lose your luggage. I’ve packed an extra toothbrush, hairbrush, deodorant, and changes of clothes in it. Also anything valuable (monetary or sentimental) should be in your carry-on so you can keep an eye on it. The TSA now has this nifty 3-1-1 system for liquids and gels, make sure you are aware of it.
  6. Leave room to bring things back. You will want to buy souvenirs and cool clothes and such abroad, so leave room in your suitcase to bring it back.
  7. You made a list, and now check it twice! You will be a sad puppy if you get there and find you’ve left your charger or god forbid your passport at home!

I’m going to post an itemized list of what I packed, and then when I’m abroad or when I get home I’ll post an update about what I might have left at home or brought instead.

Flight Booked, Visa Acquired!

It’s official-I have booked my flight to Santiago (and my flight home)! I will be flying with Delta. Yeay! I booked through Expedia, saved a few hundred bucks which is nice. Geez airfare is expensive these days. $1,500 round trip. Yikes!
Now I am in Boston getting my student visa. The Chilean consulate of Boston is an adorable little building tucked into a side street. We are quite early so my mom and I are waiting in a Starbucks down the street.

30 minutes later….
Success! The Chilean consulate of Boston consists of two gentlemen in their basement office. They were all business, and I left with my visa stamped in my passport and all the necessary papers! Yeay!

For those of you interested in a complete list of what it takes to get a student visa for Chile, here is the complete list (DISCLAIMER: They could change the requirements at any time, so call your local consulate first and double-check!):

  1. $160 in cash for the visa fee
  2. A federal background check, conducted by the FBI. This means you will need to send fingerprints to the FBI and have them run them and send them back. It took me like 2 months to get my results from when I mailed them. The fee is $18 for this service, plus a stamp. More directions are linked here.
  3. A letter from your doctor, signed, stating that you enjoy good health and are free from communicable diseases, dated no more than 30 days from the date of your visa appointment.
  4. A clean HIV test preformed no more than 30 days from the date of your visa appointment.
  5. A valid U.S. passport
  6. A letter of acceptance from a Chilean educational institution
  7. 4 color photographs of you, passport size (2×2), full face, no glasses