The Priceless Adventure

At the airport terminal, I waved my last good-byes and began to nervously
walk toward the checkpoint, turning around twice, telling myself I was
absolutely crazy! I had finally found a way to live in another country. There I
was, on the next flight to Germany, with no knowledge of the language or how
different it would actually be. But I was on a mission to be a part of a new
culture and see if the grass is greener on the other side.

This was my first time on an airplane, a twelve-hour flight from Los Angeles,
California to Dusseldorf, Germany. I was flying on a German Airline called LTU.
I found my isle seat and tried to get comfortable when I noticed everyone was
speaking German. It was quite a shock because five minutes before everyone was
conversing in English. This is where the culture shock began.

The plane landed on time in Dusseldorf where my eight-hour layover would
unfold into quite an adventure. I couldn’t wait to get off the plane; I was so
anxious, I found myself pushing the people ahead of me to hurry up. As I
cornered around the turn to the exit, I caught my first glimpse of the place I
had never set eyes on before, which was quite exhilarating. The skies were a
perfect blue with not a single cloud in the sky, and surrounding the airport
were fields that looked like they could go on forever. Once in the airport,
after the chaotic entrance through customs, I collected my luggage and decided
to check the place out. It was not as modern as the airport in Los Angeles, and
it reeked of cigarettes due to no laws against it. Later, I found out that it

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was allowed practically everywhere, even in hospitals. After walking around
with two heavy pieces of luggage, I had to call home to report I was safe and
talk to someone familiar. I found a pay phone and started to dial collect when a
loud message began to shout in my ear. I slammed the phone down and reached into
my backpack for my English-to-German book. I saw an elderly lady sitting on a
bench near the phone, and I slowly moved in and sat next to her. She looked
nice, so I turned to her and blurted out, “Hello”. I started to fumble
through the pages of my book, and I couldn’t find the right words to explain
my problem fast enough. At this time, she was speaking to me in German, and I
interrupted her with, “Do you speak English?” She began to ramble again, and
I couldn’t help but laugh because I didn’t understand a word she had just
said. As she went on, a young man about my age, 18 or so, approached me.

“Hi, is there anything I can help you with?”

“Well, yea, I don’t know how to use the phones here to call the US.”

“OK, what you have to do is buy a phone card and, then, I can help you make
the call.”

He directed me to this little store directly across the way from us. I ran
over and almost knocked over a rack of post cards. At the window there stood two
ladies chit chatting back and forth. I had to interrupt because they did not
notice me practically falling in front of them.

“Excuse me,” I pointed to the phone cards.

She surprised me with, “How many minutes would you like?”

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“The one with the most, please.”

I was thinking in the back of my head, do you have one that would last eight
hours? I pulled out a wad of cash and was immediately pointed in another
direction. I walked fast across the way to a bank that would convert my American
dollars into Deutsche Marks. I had never been through so much to make a measly
phone call. I grabbed the cash, which resembled play money. I then paid for my
phone card and spotted my help. All full of excitement, I flashed him my card
like I had just accomplished something great. Five minutes later, I was on the
phone with my mom. I was talking about a mile a minute, trying to unload
everything I was going through. We talked until the time on the card ran out. I
needed some fresh air, so I sluggishly walked outside dragging along my luggage.

My eyes looked like watermelons as I looked around