A Strange Place Essay, Research Paper
A Strange Place
I cannot fit in small cars; it is impossible. Two door sports cars are the worst. I scoot the seat back until it touches the seat behind me, and still I am kissing my knees. This situation and many others posed quite a problem for me in my 9-month stint in Europe, a place of the unexpected, a place where common sense and logic do not exist, a place very different from what I am used too.
This was my first ride on a super-charged, turbo, double-decker, high-tech 747 Jumbo Jet. The flight was LA to Amsterdam; 12 hours straight. There I sat in Business class with luxurious, gray, leather recliners. I had my choice of what movie I wanted to watch, my choice of what meal was to be served, and my choice of how hot or cold it was. Everything was my choice. The stewardesses were great with their cute German accents and cute uniforms, fulfilling my every need. I even had legroom. Wow, life couldn t get any better. I could even order alcohol free of charge, if I were so inclined. I could not get any sleep on this flying cruise ship I was so lucky to be on. I watched every movie, listened to every radio station, read every free magazine, and ordered every free drink. I had it all. This, however, was NOT Europe.
After 22 hours of pure heaven, my dream world soon came to a cruel end as I stepped off the plane into an airport reeking of human sweat and cigarette smoke. It was disgusting. My eyes started to sting and my lungs began to hurt from the smoke. I had to breathe through my nose to keep from smelling the rancid body odor that emanated from almost every person in the airport. My one and only thought was to get out of that place as fast as possible. But of course, flying into another country, I had to go through customs, which was the most tedious experience of my life. I had never gone through customs before. They check every one of your bags 15 times and they check your passport at least 4 or 5 times. Plus, they all spoke bad English so it was impossible to understand what they wanted me to do. Finally I got out of that horrible place and was ready to hit the streets.
I stepped out of the front terminal automatic sliding doors. I looked in disbelief at the cars, they were all half to one third the size of normal American cars. Almost all of them looked like they had driven off a cliff a few times. I tried to think of how I was going to fit in those cars. They all had strange names like Peugot, Opel, Aston Martin, etc. One name was not strange to me, Mercedes, I hoped I would be riding in one of these fine automobiles. It turned out that the person picking my up had a Volkswagon mini-bus. Volkswagens are the big thing there. They are like Ford here. So I threw all my suitcases in the back of this bus and we left for the school leaving a large cloud of black smoke behind us.
The drive to school was not one of my favorite experiences. We were in a raggedy old bus, probably from the 18th century, that had clutch problems, brake problems and wheel problems, and we were still driving almost 110 mph on the Autobahn. I was so scared that I couldn t watch, and what made things even worse was that it was a woman driver. The Autobahn is Germany s main highway. There is no posted speed limit on this insane stretch of highway where one could travel through the country without even noticing. If you ever drive in Germany on the Autobahn, never ever go into the far left lane. You are likely to get rear ended by some 200 thousand dollar Mercedes. That left lane has a minimum speed limit of 120 miles per hour. You see big, silver, S-Class Mercedes coming up behind you with its horn blaring and its headlights flashing. As it whizzes by you at a ridiculous speed all you see is the driver with both hands on the wheel staring straight ahead, intensely concentrating on the road ahead of him.
We arrived at the school, thank god, and the first thing I noticed was that it was out in the middle of nowhere. I mean, the nearest big city was 2 and a half hours away. There were cornfields and cows everywhere. The buildings where all about 200 years old with cracks running half way down the outside and old orange tile roofs. The school grounds used to be cornfields and horse pastures. There were wild flowers of all different colors everywhere, and beautifully magnificent oak trees surrounded the campus, almost like a castle wall. The thing about these old buildings is that they don t have good plumbing or electricity. Everything was so medieval. It was very different from what I was used to back home.
This place, although very different from what I was used to, gave me many valuable experiences that helped me realize who I was. It helped me figure out what my goals were and how I was going to achieve them. The school had no means to help me achieve these goals, and that s what made it so great. I suggest visiting a strange place whenever you have the chance because it is truly a great experience.