“I want to bang my head against the wall!” – my mis adventures to Sweden

Hello every one!

Once again, I’m sorry for being MIA (missing in action). I’ve been in the U.S. for about a month trying to re-adjust to the time difference, reverse cultural shock, etc. Leaving Sweden has been physically and strategically easy for me. I was able to travel around Europe by myself for a couple of weeks and enjoy the summer weather. 😀 I will have to make another post about my European travels later.

Now going to Europe and Sweden during the winter… well, that trip was a true test of my courage and perseverance! Want to know why? Just keep scrolling down and read on!

 I went through an absolutely RIDICULOUS  and FRUSTRATING trip to Sweden!! I had my trip planned out perfectly from A to B about a couple months before my departure date. Despite all of my effort, my plan crumbled apart!

In this post, I will give you tips, advice, and what you can expect to happen IF you ever get stuck in a domestic and international terminal. Hopefully you will never get your flight RE-SCHEDULED AND CANCELED in at once like me!

First of all, I’m not quite sure what British Airways’ track record is like, but they did not run well with me! I had an afternoon flight from LAX to Heathrow Airport, London (my lay over stop). It was supposed to be a 10 hour flight.

Instead…

It became an 8 HOUR WAIT to find out that my flight was to re-scheduled due to “maintenance problems”. They kept pushing back the time it would take for our plane to be fixed. After 8 hours, they finally decided to reschedule our flight.

Luckily, I was still in Southern California and my family was able to pick me up.. at around 11pm!

My advice:

  • Although I had this problem with British Airways, this can happen to any airplane company! Some times things do not go as smoothly as you want them too.
  • If your flight does get delayed because of “maintenance problems” or what ever else the flight crew tells you, keep your cell phone on hand. You never know if your flight may get rescheduled and you’ll need a ride back home. *Note: some times, you can get another flight the same day depending on the flight schedule and how much the flight costs.
  • If for some reason you have to wait for a long time like me, make sure you have snacks, a charged up phone (or laptop, iPad, etc.), a good book, and a comfortable seat. All of these things will make your wait more bearable!

Luckily, my flight was rescheduled for the next morning. My second attempt to get to Heathrow Airport was a success! (:

BUT……!

Right when I thought I would have a seamless journey from London to Sweden, the unimaginable (for a Southern Californian native) happened.

My flight from Heathrow Airport to Copenhagen Airport (my final flight destination before going to Sweden) got CANCELED due to the heavy snow!!! In fact, every flight that was supposed to leave from Heathrow was canceled! banging head against the wall

This is what I was doing inside my head.. >_< Since I was 2 whole days behind schedule, I kept thinking to myself in the airport, “I WANT TO BANG MY HEAD AGAINST THE WALL!!!!!”

If you are first-time, college student going abroad to another country, this can and WILL give you a lot of stress. Remember, most people who have jobs which require a ton of air travel tend to experience these mishaps.. just not all at once!

Now here’s a few tips and suggestions I picked up while being stranded in the snow, with a CANCELED flight, in an international airport:

  • Just remember, any thing can happen. You can plan out the most perfect flight schedule (just like me!) and still every thing back fires on you. Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up!
  • Be sure to follow the directions the cabin crew gives you and and don’t hesitate to ask for help.
  • Today, we live in a generation of technology. Before you head off for your study abroad adventure, make sure you have your phone company UNLOCK your phone. Or, you buy a phone with a SIM card for the country you will be studying in. Although it costs more, it may be better to have an international plan so you can always call home.
  • If you would prefer to communicate back home through Skype, Google Hangout, etc. you will need wi-fi. Remember, NOT all wi-fi is free. For example, Heathrow Airport only gives you about 45 minutes of free wi-fi before you need to pay for more. Here is a link to one of it’s internet partners which you can use, Boingo (for a username and fee): http://www.boingo.com/
  • If you do not have a cell phone that you can use and/or internet, you can always use the international pay phones.
  • *Note: International pay phones only accept credit cards. So make sure your credit card company knows that you will be out of the country and that you will need to use your card while you are studying abroad.
  • Try to book another flight ASAP while you are in your current airport. Unfortunately, myself and hundreds of others were unable to book a flight for the next day due to the amount of people trying to get a new flight schedule.
  • If you have a travel agent (for example, AAA), contact them and try to have them book you a new flight. They might have an easier time finding a new flight than you.
  • *Note: Be aware of the time difference. I was 8 hours ahead of California and at the time, I was calling home during the day. If you are calling home when every one is asleep, you will probably have a harder time getting help from your travel agent.
  • Depending on the country you are in, there may be a language barrier. If you have to, make sure to whip out that translator book! Most countries should have a section of customer service help who speak English but you never know. Luckily for me, English is the dominant language in the U.K. If you are in a European country, most people know English!
  • Don’t forget to EAT & DRINK! You will be exhausted and stressed out. At the very least, you should have a little food in your stomach and drink lots of water. If you don’t stay hydrated, you are more prone to fainting, dizziness, etc. Nothing is more embarrassing than hitting your head on the floor in front of hundreds of people in an airport terminal. Trust me, I saw people at the airport banging their heads against the floor; rather than the wall! XD

Wagamama

Wagamama: A restaurant at Heathrow Airport which serves tasty Asian noodle favorites (yakisoba, ramen, udon) and other Asian foods. They even serve English food for breakfast!

This is the advice I can give for first-time international travelers, especially study abroad students, who may get stranded in a domestic or international ariport.

My next post will talk about where to stay, where to eat, etc. when you have to spend the night whichever country you are stranded in.

What I experienced was a one in a billion chance. Even if you do experience something similar as me, you WILL become a well-seasoned traveler! IMG_5285 

I hope these tips help! Happy Traveling! (:

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