Ciao! I finally made it to Italy and I'm sitting in my dorm room writing this! It's 9am here so very early back home! The past two days have been insane but I am just happy we all made it to Paderno safe and sound! We took off from JFK at 6pm Saturday night and arrived in Madrid at 7am their time, so to my friends and I, it felt like 1am. We tried to sleep on the plane but no one was very well rested. I have to say that plane ride was one of the worst in my life- so uncomfortable and there were three really obnoxious people in front of us- but oh well! It was a long flight but we made it to Madrid. Having to get up basically in the middle of the night to find our way through another foreign airport, go through security, and find our gate was a little rough. But our layover wasn't very long (by the time we found our gate) and we boarded the flight to Venice. It took off a little late but it was a quick, easy flight.
Once we landed we went straight to baggage claim. Of course one of my bags was the LAST to come out, so naturally I was a little stressed. And 7 Americans each hauling multiple bags caused a little bit of a scene and a lot of stares. We got our bus tickets to the Mestre train station and waited for the bus. Four of us made the first one but the other three waited for the next and we met them there.
This is where the most grueling part of the trip began. An RA from our program at the airport who gave us directions had warned us that at the train station we were going to need to bring our luggage downstairs then back upstairs to get to our platform, which we obviously weren't looking forward to. But it was so much worse than what we expected. We had seen a set of stairs that led to the platforms so we brought all of our luggage down there, only to realize it only went as far as platform 9- we were platform 12. Alanna, Lauren and I went to find someone to ask and found the ticket booth along the way. We bought tickets for everyone and realized the train was coming in 30 minutes- this sounds like plenty of time but we still didn't know how to get to the platform! I was about to run into a wall like in Harry Potter and hope for the best. Finally, we found a woman who spoke a little English and she showed us the RIGHT stairs. So we ran back to get the others, move all the bags upstairs (there are now 8 of us- making friends from our program along the way- and most of us each have 2 large suitcases and a backpack), ran through the train station to the other stairs, moved them downstairs, ran through the underground tunnel to the platform stairs, and moved them all back up with only a few minutes to spare before the train came. I literally felt like I sweat off 20 lbs and and we were all completely EXHAUSTED.
The next step was getting the bags onto the train- it arrived and we started moving all the bags on. The majority of them were inside already but the doors started closing! Lauren and I were still on the platform so we actually started screaming and pushing the doors back! Luckily, they opened again and we shoved the rest in and jumped in. At the moment, I was freaking out but looking back now it was actually HYSTERICAL. We took the train to Bassano del Grappa where we got on the CIMBA bus headed to campus! (Luckily there was one there at 5pm, we were supposed to be there for the 3pm one but had missed it!)
We got to campus with only 20 minutes until Orientation began so Mandy and I ran up to our room- it's so nice and big and we even have 2 bathrooms!! Our big, old windows look out on a really pretty courtyard! We really lucked out! The campus is beautiful! It's such a cute, small town and is right next to beautiful mountains! We explored a little but there's a lot more to see. (It's been rainy here so when it's nice I'll post some pics!) I love it and am so excited to be here! It definitely will take a little time to get over the jet lag (we basically didn't sleep for 24 hours) but we'll be fine. The next two weeks seem very busy with orientation stuff and classes but I will post when I can! :)