Tuesday August 11,
I began my flight travels today. During my smooth flight from Ankara to Istanbul I talked to the guy sitting next to me and was very surprised he knew where about Iowa. He even told me about Slip Knot which is apparently a band from Iowa and recommended I listen to their music. If any of you care, he was going to Germany to visit his aunt and spoke English well. After landing I rushed to make my connection from domestic to international. A few hours later I realized I had no reason to be in a hurry because the flight left more than an hour after it was supposed to. I was surprised by the number of security checks I had to pass in Istanbul (there was the main security check and then it was like customs at the gate entrance. There was a long line to get into the gate and I was asked several questions about my trip).
On my flight I sat next to a guy from Saudi Arabia who is finishing his senior year of college in Nashville this year. The seats were set up so it was three, three, and three. I sat closest to the aisle. In the last five minutes of the 10 hour 40 minute flight I found out the person at the window seat is going to Cedar Rapids. She will be going to Kirkwood for a degree in nursing. It really is a small world.
At O’Hare I went through the passport check (the machines make the process so much easier now). At immigration, the lady asked me a few questions about my stay in Turkey. Just as I was thinking it was going well, she told me they needed to take me in for further questioning for ‘number 1’ (I have no idea what that means). I made casual conversation with the immigration officer taking me to the waiting room. I guess she expected me to be scared or nervous because she asked me why I was so happy (I responded saying that is just who I am). The waiting room was completely full and I would be lying if I said I didn’t notice that almost everyone in there was from Asia or the Middle East. When I was questioned, they asked me about my internship, which cities I had been to, where I had stayed, and took down my phone number and email address. After I had provided this information, they had me go back to the waiting room. A 10 minute wait later, they returned my passport to me and sent me on my way.
In the end everything worked out, I made it to my gate with a few minutes to spare, and boarded my flight to Cedar Rapids. My reunion with my parents was great. Driving home though, I can’t say it felt like I had really been away. Over the past two months I have stayed in touch with so many family members and friends that I feel like I wasn’t ever very far.
I was welcomed by flowers and balloons from friends, a tasty zucchini cream cheese cookie sandwich made by a family friend, a bowl of cherries to remind me of Turkey, and a wonderful home-cooked meal from my mom. After a much needed shower, I gave my parents their gifts from Turkey and was very happy they liked them. We all finally went to bed around midnight.