One of the most exhausting parts of preparing to study abroad had to be finding a suitable flight. Arcadia (my 3rd party provider), required that we arrive in Cape Town before noon on our arrival date so that limited my flight options. I found a promising flight with Air Qatar that would allow me to arrive in Cape Town at the right time. However, the flight included a 20 hour layover in the United Arab Emirates. Considering that I would be traveling alone, I wasn’t too excited about the idea of spending 20 hours alone in an airport. However, after making some inquires I discovered that Qatar Airways provides hotel accommodations for passengers with long layovers at a very low cost. After assuring that I would have a place to stay, I booked the ticket.
On August 1st, I left home to embark on my journey to South Africa. My entire family drove me to the airport to catch my flight. Nothing could calm the butterflies in my stomach as I said my goodbyes and headed towards the departure gate. Alone. My flight was delayed for three hours due to technical difficulties. So I read a book to help pass the time. Once the flight was ready for takeoff I said my final goodbyes to my home country. The flight was very nice and comfortable, despite a mix up in the beginning when I realized I was sitting in someone else’s seat. I watched a lot of movies to pass the time and they provided us with dinner and breakfast before we arrived at the Hamad International Airport in Doha, UAE.
The airport was very high-end, hosting Chanel and Gucci stores and even stations to buy gold. What I found to be the most interesting were the art installations produced by local artists, like the teddy bear statue above. Hamad International also offers a complimentary tour of Doha, available on a first come-first serve basis. My intentions were to take the tour and explore the city. However, after a delayed flight and more than 16 hours of flying, I fell asleep once I got to the hotel. Since it was dark I woke up, and I was alone I opted to stay in my hotel room until it was time for me to catch my next flight. At 2am I rode the shuttle back to the airport and departed on my flight to Cape Town. Unfortunately, this flight wasn’t as nice as the first one. It didn’t help that I had to sit next to a very obnoxious man who kept spilling his drinks on me.
But it was all worth it in the end, because eight hours later I arrived in Cape Town, my home for the next four months. Even from the tiny plane window I was in awe of its beauty. There was something about it that let me know that this semester will be one that I will cherish forever.