Saturday I went to Sweden and again I had one of those weird days that I always have when visiting another country. The first day always is the worst. It is the day where you make mistakes - mistakes when speaking a foreign language, mistakes when using your credit card, mistakes when using the subway, mistakes when simply walking, eating, standing, talking....
The first day in a new country for me always is like Murphy's law. Whatever can go wrong, goes wrong. Therefore it is now wonder why I actually hate the travelling part of travelling if that makes any sense. Yes I love visiting foreign countries and I love experiencing foreign cultures but the actual travelling from my home country to the foreign one is just awful.
Waking up at 3 in the morning to drive 3h to the airport, waste 2h at the airport because of course you arrived there way too early, then wait an hour at the security check point because everyone has to take off their shoes or because people still don't know that they can only bring 100ml of liquids with them. When it's your turn, the alarm goes off - of course!
And yes it is a lot of fun when the alarm, that by the way is way too loud, goes off and everyone stares at you and expects you to pull a knife out of your shoe to stab someone. If you pass the security check you only have to walk 10km until you finally arrive your gate, just in time because you hurried, only to find out that the flight is delayed or boarding simply is taking place half an hour later.
On the plane more surprises await you. Either your neighbour smacks or chews chewing gum with his mouth open or - and this is the best but also most terrifying what I ever experienced - your neighbour sucks his or her thumbs! And no, of course it's not a child but a grown-up....
If this does not happen, then you either fail on opening a yoghurt with the result that the yoghurt lands on you and your neighbour, who is really really happy about this or you fall asleep and only awake again for landing although you really really wanted something to eat! Finally arrived in the new country one of the following incidents most definitely happen to you: - you almost kill someone by lifting your overweight luggage from the luggage belt
- your luggage has decided to go on a vacation without you, preferably to a country that could not possibly be farther away from your destination
- your luggage got destroyed on the way
- you take the wrong airport shuttle bus
- you don't queue whilst boarding the airport shuttle bus although you arrived in a country where queuing is not only mandatory but where you risk being send home right away when ignoring this rule
- you underestimate the walk from the bus station to your accomodation and either get lost or arrive stumbling over some steps and land head first in the hotel OR the walk is relatively short but anyway you need two hours because the streets are icy and your hotel is situated on a hill or the streets are icy and your luggage cannot roll over the gravel that is supposed to prevent you from falling but you fall anyway because your overweighed luggage pulls you down
- you babble nonsense although officially you are fluent in English
- and of course my personal classic: you manage to bring out one sentence in Swedish, Norwegian (or insert YOUR third language here) only to fail to understand your counterpart's response and then earn weird looks because you should have spoken English in the first place
And I don't even want to start talking about mental hosts, dirty accomodations and disgusting food. At the end of the day I just want to hide in my bed and this is what I mostly do.... I go to bed really really early and the next day somehow always is fine. And the day after that too and the one after that also. And in the end I don't want to leave the new country again because I've grown to like it or because I simply don't want to undergo the actual travelling part again.....
But let's be honest for a minute: everyone makes mistakes when he suddenly finds him/herself in another country/another culture. We all are afraid of making mistakes but they are just part of travelling. You cannot know what is expected of you or how you are supposed to behave right away.....
And after all we can only learn out of mistakes right?! Nevertheless I hate the first day of being in a new country. I hate acting weird and insecure and if I could ban the first day of a vacation, I certainly would.....would I???
How about you? Can you relate? And how was your worst first day in a new country? I want to hear about your stories (yes, partly because this would make me feel much better but anyway.....)
And to put you in the mood for the Sweden blogposts that are yet to come, here's a picture of Evert Taubes Terrass in Gamla Stan, Stockholm that I took on Sunday, the day that everything was fine again ;)