It was finally time for me to depart Europe. I made my final journey to the airport, dragging my suitcases behind me on the cobblestone walkways. Next thing I knew, I was in the air on my way back to the United States. The flight was an eleven-hour flight to Atlanta, where my dad would be waiting to pick me up and drive me back to our hometown. I prepared myself for the jet-lag back the same way I had on the way to Europe, by setting my phone to the time zone I would be arriving in and sleeping only until what would be normal for me to wake up in that time zone. My phone read 5 AM Eastern time, so I had about 4 hours to nap until 9 AM, which would be a normal wakeup time for me. Then I would force myself to stay awake the rest of the plane ride. This method worked incredibly for avoiding jet-lag on my way to Europe, so I was sticking to it. My dinosaur PillowPet gave me comfort and kept me company for the long journey.
After my nap, I still had a lot of time left on the plane. This gave me an opportunity to reflect on my journey. I got to visit six different countries by the end of my stay. I went from never having been abroad to being a well-seasoned traveler in just one summer. It was such an amazing experience to see and appreciate so many cultures. I got to watch the sun rise in Venice. I had been able to try Swedish meatballs, Dutch mackerel, Danish sausage, German sausage, and Italian coffee (from the first café in Italy, too!). I now had a palette for the world. I was so envious of the idea of being able to live just a train ride away from one of these experiences. I was already thinking ahead to my next trip. I had learned so much, and I was basically a completely different person from before I left. I spent the rest of the plane ride thinking how grateful I was to have the privilege of this experience, and before I knew it, I was home.