It was the morning of my departure day… I was stuck doing some last minute packing and still needed to go to the mall to get some essentials; it seemed like l’d left it all to the very last minute and my mom was not pleased at all!
I finally got everything sorted out and was ready to head to the airport. On my way to the airport it finally dawned on me that my journey at The International Hotel School was basically over; my classmates and I were all headed in different directions for our lives and things would never be the same… I just had an emotional moment which was soon disturbed by the zooming noises from airplanes.
At the airport, I checked in my luggage and set out to find Nomvuyo and Sasha (my friends, who are also IHS students and also placed at Ocean Reef for six months). With all our families together I’ve never seen so much love in an airport terminal. Then it was boarding time and we all said our goodbyes. Our mothers wouldn’t let go; they were in tears trying to follow us… It’s my first time going overseas and leaving my family for as long as six months.
While boarding, we met up with the fourth ‘Ocean Reefer’, who is also from Durban; we were all excited that he is a guy – seeing as we all needed help with our heavy carry-on luggage!
Thank you to the South African Youth Exchange!
Our flight to Johannesburg was delayed for ± one hour, but once we took flight, within less than 45 minutes we reached our destination. At O.R Tambo Airport we connected to Heathrow, flying British Airways all the way. All of our travel expenses were paid for, thanks to the South African Youth Exchange.
We arrived at Heathrow Airport at around 6am and it was freezing cold, although we only got to see a small portion of it – it’s a huge airport! The biggest culture shock for me at Heathrow was that before you get to the boarding gates, you get searched and have to take off all jewellery, belts, shoes, socks, and gadgets that are on you before you go through the scanners, and liquids more than 200ml are thrown away.
After that rattling ordeal, we headed for the restrooms to freshen up, had breakfast, and had one hour to kill before our next connecting flight to Miami International. The boarding gates opened, and our flight to Miami was the smoothest of the journey.
The moment we got to Miami, we just saw a whole lot of passengers running or speeding up their pace, and in our confusion, we asked a lady what was going on and she told us that everyone was rushing to Customs because the lines are very long and you could be stuck there for hours! Equipped with this new information in mind, we bolted to Customs and it was a long run there.
Once we had all collected our luggage, we contacted the Ocean Reef representative in charge of our transfer, and were off to our new home for the next six months…