That’s right. Me. Welcome to international traveling?? TMI warning for this post – it’s going to get gross and I’m going to question why I’m even putting this on the internet. If you don’t want to read about my sick day then read the next paragraph about my little excursion in Germany, then stop and know that I am alive, I am ok, and the worst seems to be over. For the rest of you who like gross stories, are secretly upset with me and want to read about my misery, or are simply too curious to turn back now, here goes. (Sorry in advance for typos and such. I get comma happy sometimes and I didn’t have much time for editing this one)
My day started out fine. The incredibly smooth flight from Seattle to Frankfurt landed on time around 8:45am. I knew I faced a 12-hour layover, and despite the immense size of the Frankfurt Airport with a multitude of stores and activities, I needed to get outside and away from the bustling of travelers. I’d done some last-minute research in Seattle and found that a small town called Kelsterbach was a single train stop away from the airport (within walking distance if I mess up). I stumbled my way through the ticket purchase and German signage which I did not understand in the slightest and actually managed to end up where I wanted. I enjoyed walking along a river and looping back through town. I only took a couple pictures which I’ll try and add later, but the town was quiet and peaceful. I saw a swan and some ducks paddling in the river. Getting back to the airport was a breeze, and I felt pretty proud of myself. Wandering around a random town on a whim during a layover isn’t something I thought I’d be comfortable doing, but I couldn’t let my chance to explore a tiny sliver of Germany go to waste. I think I also would have been more uncomfortable in the airport for 12 straight hours.
When I got back through security, things started going downhill. I found a place in the airport to take a shower, but I lost my favorite hat in the process. About an hour after that, I had no appetite and an incredible headache. I figured it was dehydration, especially since walking around Kelsterbach was hot and I’d just spent nine hours on a plane. I was also absolutely exhausted from only sleeping about three hours. I spent a little while sitting staring off into space trying to force-feed myself a granola bar and some water.
A few more hours go by, and suddenly I had a nosebleed. Great. Unexpected. I rushed to the bathroom to clean up. Into a stall I went (with doors that actually go all the way to the floor – revolutionary!), frantically shoving toilet paper up my nose. And then it hit me. All of my attempted consumption of food and water came back up with incredible force. I don’t know if it was anxiety, dehydration, or a stomach bug, but it hit me hard. So there I was, kneeling in front of a thankfully clean toilet puking my guts out while my nose continued to bleed, tears pooling in my glasses because I am undeniably a huge baby when it comes to vomiting. This continued on and off for about an hour. I would get sick which would restart the nosebleed which would restart the crying if I ever stopped in the first place. It was not pretty, and I’m definitely not trying to act like I was all strong and adult-like throughout this experience. I texted my mom. I wanted to go home. I was alone, sick in a foreign country, and I was scared.
Finally, I womaned up and did what any adult would do in a horrible, pukey situation like this – I took a nap on an airport bench. An hour later I woke up and miraculously the nausea was almost gone. It’s been a couple hours since then and I’m still scared to eat or drink much, especially considering my next flight boards in an hour, but I’m optimistic that everything is ok now. I didn’t know what to expect when traveling, but this still surprised me. Maybe there’s stomach flu from trying exotic foods, but getting sick during my during my first layover? That just blows. I learned today that traveling is definitely not always pretty. It gets gross, scary, and sometimes I’m just going to want to go home and have my parents take care of me. And I think that’s ok.
Now that I’m a couple hours vomit-free, I’m back to being excited and ready to board my next flight! Today I’m already beginning to realize that not every second of my experience this summer can be really enjoyable and perfect. Studying abroad isn’t some magical bubble that makes all of my challenges go away. All I can do is stay optimistic when things get rough and remember that I do have an amazing support system back home when I really need a boost. I’m already laughing at the image of myself in the bathroom stall, and I can only imagine what the other people in the bathroom were thinking when this girl comes out after making some revolting sounds, trembling slightly with blood on her hands and red, puffy face. I also understand the importance of staying hydrated, as this felt much too similar to some of the hangovers I’ve had. Finally, I learned that single-serve gatorade powder packets are a good carry-on item. Thus ends my first (and hopefully last!) vomit story of the summer.