Written by Kevin Hanson, University of Minnesota
(Beijing Airport, that is) It was quite an adventure coming over to Thailand. It was my first experience traveling internationally and I did not know what to expect. The flight from Chicago to Beijing went fine but, once we landed, that all changed.
My luggage was supposed to be claimed at the Beijing airport and that required me to go through immigration and obtain a temporary visa. I was not given my boarding pass until I had rechecked my luggage in Beijing. I was the only person in my group who had to do this so I split from the group. That was the last time I would see them until the next morning.
It took too much time going through customs and immigration and I missed my flight. At that moment, I was in a dark place and did not know what to do. It took an hour to contact the airline to reschedule a new flight (meanwhile I watched my plane leave). There was much uncertainty over this time period as I could not contact anyone with restricted internet and email access. After hours of panic, I was rescheduled to take a flight from Beijing to Bangkok at 12:15 a.m. and then a flight to Chiang Mai at 7:50 a.m.
Once I landed in Bangkok and eventually Chiang Mai, I was immediately relieved and felt more comfortable just being in the same country as the group!
I realized a lot of things while traveling alone. You have to be willing to ask people for help and step out of your comfort zone. I asked to use a phone to call our group contact and asked for access to the airline computer to email family and other trip contacts of my situation and new itinerary.