Travel tips for first time cross-Atlantic travelers
A hop, a skip, an 8-hour flight and 2 hours in customs and you’re there!
So, for those of you that don’t know:
I have been chosen to participate in the World Chicago Professional Fellowship of fall 2018. I am a national of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I am in Chicago for a 5-week program with 14 other fellows from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia.
I wrote about my first impressions in my first blog, and now I wanna tell you about the first leg of my journey: the journey itself.
This was my first time to the states. It went incredibly well, all things considered — I wasn’t arrested, nothing was confiscated, and I wasn’t forced to coexist with other people’s feet on the plane (apparently, that’s a common issue).
I was, however, obliged to open my bags because the drug-sniffing dog apparently also likes chocolate and alcohol, which made up an embarrassing amount of my stuff.
Based on what happened to me and to people in my group, though, I do have a few pro tips.
1. BRING ANY PAPER THE EMBASSY GIVES YOU
The J1 visa form, which basically looks like a regular, useless piece of paper, is just as important as your passport. Possibly more!
I was lucky to have somebody randomly warn me about this a few days before the trip. However, we had some people that forgot or didn’t pay attention to it (I name no names) and they got to spend some one-on-one time with the customs guys. Fun!
2. AIRPLANE STAFF CAN BE YOUR LIFELINE
Not literally, at least in my case. But, thanks to me being willing to help out a struggling flight attendant, both me and my flight mate (hi, Owen!) were given free booze. Instant friendship right there.
3. THE LESS YOU PACK, THE MORE YOU CAN SHOP FOR
Any additional luggage costs a lot. I knew I was going to shop — I packed for 10 days, and everything else is coming out of my long-suffering wallet. You should do the same, provided your wallet is strong enough (or you have somebody to leech off, like me).
4. INSTRUCTIONS ARE IMPORTANT
World Chicago pretty much handled everything for us. We had the whole trip planned out for us — as long as we followed the plan.
If you’ve ever been to the Balkans, you’d know we are very bad at following instructions. At one point, I honestly felt the spark of rebellion in me. Nearly got stranded in Brussels.
5. YOU CAN AVOID JET LAG — BUT NOBODY KNOWS HOW
According to one of my new fellows, Primoz, all you need to do is drink a lot of water, avoid alcohol, eat vegetarian and place your bare feet on the dirty airport floor as soon as you land, followed by a workout.
According to me, you do none of that. Just chug a pint of water before you go to sleep.
If you have any methods, please feel free to share.
6. CHICAGO IS FLAT
Like, flat flat. Like, I have no sense of distance. My 65-minute commute looks like a straight line. On the bright side, you never have to walk uphill!
More on my USA adventures on a regular basis — feel free to follow or comment!