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I arrived in Kandern, Germany, safely yesterday afternoon! I woke up bright and early Tuesday morning, packed, and flew out of Orlando at 9 in the evening.  When my parents helped me check in my luggage, we ended up asking the assistant a ton of questions about connecting flights, and he asked me if this was my first time flying.  “No, but it’s my first international flight.”

He gave a huge grin.  “Travel as much as you can, as long as you can.”  He talked about his own adventures on only $4,000, but I clearly didn’t need any encouragement to travel!  My dad inwardly groaned, since he’d like me to come back home at some point.

Aren't they sweet?

Photograph taken by Joshua Schmitt

My ten-hour flight to Frankfurt passed relatively quickly, since I sat next to a friendly gentleman called Roberto.  Unlike me, he is a seasoned traveler who has visited many different countries; on my first international flight, it was reassuring to sit next to someone with experience travelling.  A self-described nomad, he has worked for the Air Force, Bell Labs, and Control Micro Systems (a private company who makes laser equipment).  This last career has sent him to install or repair the equipment among international clientele, and his current trip was taking him to Turkey.  While he showed me pictures from his last visit there, he explained some of the Turkish culture and history.

At one point, he commented, “People ask me if I’m scared to be visiting all of these different cultures, and I tell them, ‘No.  I go there and observe with an open mind.  No judgments, just learn.”  He also noted that over the past twenty years, he has seen a different countries’ cultures start to resemble each other.  He said, “They have the same clothes, they eat the same food, they talk about the same things.”  For him, globalization has taken away much diversity, and he misses it.

When our conversation moved to the Recession and the lack of jobs, he told me that working for the military is ideal: “It’s stable, they pay for your education, and you get an early pension.”  With his many different careers and experiences, we rarely ran out of things to talk about.

Lufthansa’s 747 was a delight to travel in.  If I may tweak an oft-quoted saying, an airline can be measured by how well it treats its economy class passengers, and Lufthansa earned an A.  To my surprise, we were fed not only dinner about an hour after take-off, but also breakfast about two hours before landing.  Everyone had access to touchscreens in front of them, which offered Sudoku, Solitaire, music, popular movies, and flight information (plus the option to turn the screen off if you didn’t want anything at all).

I luckily had an aisle seat in the middle row, but that meant I couldn’t see out of any of the windows.  As we prepared to land, I craned my neck to get my first glimpse of Germany.  Unsuccessful, I resigned myself to waiting until we exited the plane.