The worldwide Augustana College experience

Zain vs train

Today’s key phrase was “it was Zain vs. train”… you’ll understand in a minute of you keep reading… The whole the day seems like such a blur due to the fact that we jumped forward through so many time zones so quickly! Although the plane ride went smoothly, I can’t say that the smoothness of the trip continued after we got off… actually, the whole trip is starting to seem like a roller coaster, up… down… up… down.

Anyways, upon arrival at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport we had to go through what seemed like a maze. I mean, this airport is HUGE, and Dr. Skrainka was not with us. Six of us (Lauren, Sandrine, Katy, Peter, “other Peter” and myself) ended up booking the same flight by chance, so we were able to use our brain collectively to navigate through the many halls of the airport. Out of the six of us, I was the only one who had actually been through CDG recently, so I could feel the pressure. Dr. Skrainka said she would be in terminal 2C by door number 6… in my head I was thinking, “oh jeez… I hope I don’t lead the group in the wrong direction!”

After 7 hours of sitting on a plane, the hunt for Dr. Skrainka was on! Before we left the United States we knew that her plane had been delayed for over an hour and there was some doubt in our heads as to whether we would even find her at our designated meeting spot! I was a little panicked because I realized that my iPhone wasn’t detecting any of the local carriers and after having paid an arm and a leg for being able to take my US phone with me, I was upset that Dr. Skrainka may not be able to get ahold of us…

Thankfully, upon arrival at our meeting spot, we found Dr. Skrainka seated on the ground… sans luggage (uh oh)… I waved my Augustana ‘A’ frantically to get her attention… Doing so probably made us scream “tourists” but it didn’t matter because after being on our own for so long, it was great to be together with our advisor… Unfortunately, her luggage never made the connection and got lost somewhere between the QC and Detroit. Also, her Augustana credit card was being rejected, so she had to use her personal card to make purchases for us!

We decided that the RER was the best way to get to our hotel, Hotel Stella – “The place of [our] old Paris dreams”. The RER is like the Meta for all you Chicago-folk, a high speed line that runs through the city and it’s surrounding neighborhoods… Unfortunately the line that runs from the airport is really old, and the airport station is designed so stupidly that people have to struggle to drag their baggage through the skinny escalators and turnstiles. Even worse is the fact that to get the train platform we had to drag our luggage down a long series of stairs… I mean, isn’t this supposed to be an airport? Why do they want to make it so difficult to get around? …who knows.

Sitting on the train I figured out how to get my phone to work in France. Now listen up because this is very important for anyone who has an iPhone. To get things to work, you have to “Reset network settings” in the “Settings” section of your iPhone. I can imagine that the same rules apply to pretty much any smartphone these days though!

Getting off the train was the biggest of all disasters, because none of us knew how quickly the doors would shut after arriving at our stop… but judging by how long they were staying open at other stops, I was worried that not all of us would make it out… So when we got to our stop, I made sure to be one of the last people to get off the train (except for Dr. Skrainka, who was actually still behind me)… and just as I feared, by the time everyone shuffled all their luggage and tried to drag it out of the train the doors starting beeping! Yep, the door shut right on my body… It kinda hurt… it all happened so quickly but I remember hearing Dr. Skrainka gasp as I struggled to get myself and my bag out of this bind. Once I slipped out of the death trap, I realized that Dr. Skrainka was still inside compartment, and by the time I snapped out of my shock and turned around, I saw that she had tried to slip through behind me and got stuck as well… All I could remember thinking was “God, I hope this train isn’t automated and starts moving while she is dangling out of the door… out of instinct I dropped my bags and ran to the door of the train, trying to pry it open once more in the hopes that I’d be able to pull them open enough that she’d be able to get out as well. A man from the inside started running to the door to pull on the emergency break, but just that instant, she was able to pull free…

As you can tell, out first few hours in Paris were already an adventure.., what was to come… well, who knows?…

4 Responses to “Zain vs train”

  1. Oh my gosh! I’m glad everyone is ok, especially after the Train incident.

    The thing w/ your trip being a roller coaster is VERY much like how I remember my trip back in 2007. It was one thing after another. And then that dang group from Wisconsin left us behind and the bus person had to come back to get us cause they thought we’d left w/o them. *rolls eyes*. So our trip was started later than Mme. Breddin originally planned on

    Looking forward to your next blog. Sounds like you are getting nothing but excitement.

  2. I can hardly wait to hear what happens next!

  3. Yowza! Glad to hear you survived CDG and the train “trip” — thanks for blogging so we can follow along from over here!

  4. Great story – you tell it will humor (and the bit of fear of the unknown I think we all face when traveling). Cant’ wait to read more!

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