Coming back home from studying abroad

I honestly cannot believe that it has been one year since I came back from Paris. I know I say this all the time but it's honestly crazy how fast time has flown by since I started blogging. Going back home after a year or even a semester abroad can be tricky, but here are some of my tips to make navigating around the airport a bit easier for you.
When I was packing everything to go back home I quickly noticed that I had TOO MUCH stuff. It was actually ridiculous. I had so much clothing that I had to donate some, and even with that I still had too much stuff. Since there is a 50 lbs (23 kg) limit you have to pack your bags wisely. Keep your clothing, beauty products, and shoes in your suitcases. Books, school work, and everything else that is heavy belongs in your carry on.

Since I studied French literature while in Paris I acquired quite a lot of books and essays. I didn't feel like giving away the books because I can always re-read them in the future. My two carry-on items were a backpack and a small duffel bag. My duffel bag probably weight about 15 pounds because of all my books, schoolwork, and documents. I wished I could have bought a carry-on with wheels but since I didn't I just had to suck it up and carry that heavy bag. On my backpack I carried my purse, cameras, and vinyl records so as you can imagine it was quite heavy as well. And to top it off I checked in two large suitcases.

How did I manage to carry all of those bags through two airports? Well with some help. If you have a friend in Paris ask him or her to help you out. When my friend/roommate went back home I helped with one of her large suitcases which was quite an adventure because some metro stations aren't exactly traveler friendly. If you end up being a girl duo don't worry because French men are willing to help you carry the bags up or down the stairs which is very nice. Once you're in the RER B then its all good because once you get to CDG there's elevators and escalators. When it was my turn to go back home I asked Orlando to help me out. Let's just say things were a little bit easier with a guy helping your out.

One thing I really appreciated at CDG were the fact that they offer free carts. Definitely take advantage of those carts! They can be found outside before you check in your bags and after you go through security as well. The carts once you go through security are a lot smaller but they're perfect if you have heavy carry-on bags like I did. Since I was running a little late I just put my bags on one of the carts and just ran so I could make it on the plane.

From Paris I went to Detroit and things got a little tricky in Detroit. I realized that it was 4 heavy bags vs. 1 girl. Luckily after searching I found that the Detroit airport had free carts too! SCORE! I grabbed one and made my way to look for my suitcases. Checking in my bags for my connecting flight wasn't hard but once I went through customs and all of that I noticed that Detroit didn't have free carts in the terminals. What's a girl to do? Suck it up. Even the TSA felt bad for me after seeing how heavy my carry-on bags were but I tried my best to carry about 30 pounds worth of stuff around. I managed to haul my bags through the airport and once I got on the plane I everything was good because I was going back home.

Going back home from a year abroad is not an easy task and it will surely test your patience and strength. My advice is...

  • LEAVE EARLY! I would encourage you to leave about 4.5 hours before your flight departs just in case something goes wrong in the metro or if it takes you a while to carry your items up and down the stairs.
  • Get a friend to help you out and essentially "drop you off" at the airport. 
  • Once at the airport check if they have a free cart service, if its not free I would still encourage you to pay for it if your bags are extremely heavy.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you can't carry your carry-on inside ask an airport staff member and maybe they can provide help.
For those getting ready to come back home, I hope you enjoyed your time studying abroad as much as I did. Although this chapter of your life is coming to an end, another one is about to begin once you come back home.

Have a safe flight back home!
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