I got my plane ticket!

Yes!  Finally!

My itinerary is great except for one thing:  I have an 8-hour layover in Los Angeles.  What the heck am I supposed to do for eight hours in LAX?  Enlighten me, please.

Also, due to a combination of a wicked time change and an incredibly long flight, I’ll be arriving in Sydney two days after I leave St. Louis.  (In other words, my February 12 will pretty much be lost in a void somewhere.)  So…any advice on combating jet lag would be greatly appreciated.  :)

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So when are you leaving?

Yeah…um…about that.

I haven’t actually gotten my plane ticket yet.  I guess I’ve been busy with school and Christmas and generally unprepared to make the $1600 investment.  (One that my parents have very generously offered to pay for, I should add.  I’m not sure if it’s because they want me to get as far away from them as possible, or because they want to make sure I come home at the end of the semester.  Either way, thanks, mom and dad.)

My study abroad advisor recommended booking tickets through a travel agent who could arrange a flexible return date in case I, you know, decide to hang around for a few more days or years.  So sometime this week (or maybe next week), I plan to visit my friendly local AAA office with my mom and her credit card and get this matter taken care of.  I’ve never used a travel agent, and I’ve certainly never booked a $1000+ plane ticket, so even purchasing the flight will be a new experience for me.

I don’t know exactly when I’m leaving yet, but here’s what I do know so far:

— My housing contract begins February 13, so I’ll want to arrive in Sydney on that day.  Which, by my calculations, means I’ll leave STL on February 11.  No, really.

— I don’t want to visit a bunch of different airports.  STL –> LAX –> SYD would be ideal.  Considering I’ve only flown once in my life, I’d like to keep this process as simple as possible.

— On my way back to STL in June, I want to spend a day with my friend Alex in L.A.  I’ve been to 34 states, but California is not one of them, and I want to change that.

— As noted above, I want a flexible return date.  But not too flexible, because my friend is getting married June 17.  Since I’m a bridesmaid, I should probably be there.

— I don’t really care what airline gets me across America, but I want to fly Qantas from L.A. to Sydney.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about them.  Well, except for the whole airplane explosion thing.

So here’s where you come in.  Do you have any advice on working with travel agents, getting the best deals, the worst airlines to use, or any important factors I’m missing?

Discuss!  Enlighten me!

(I’m sure I’ll be asking for advice on killing time during long layovers and dealing with jet lag in a later post.)


It Starts with Goodbye

I’m one of those people who usually finds goodbyes a little difficult.  When my CoMo friends and I go our separate ways for winter break, I’m a little sad about the prospect of not seeing them for a month.  Turns out this sadness is intensified when we won’t be reunited for an entire semester–or more.  To make things even sadder, one member of our group is graduating in May.  So when we got together at the end of finals week to celebrate a birthday, I realized this was the last time for a very long time–if ever–that all my college friends would be together in one place.

I’m going to miss a few places in Columbia while I’m gone.   Booche’s, Sub Shop, and Stephens Lake park, for example.  I’m going to miss a few important events, most notably Amanda’s 21st birthday, Alex’s graduation (those two will probably never forgive me), and performing in the MU Vagina Monologues. But mostly I’m going to miss the people–all the friends, acquaintances and co-workers I’ve collected in my five semesters as an MU student.  Sure, we’ll be back together in June, July, or August, but that’s a long time and half a world away.

Colleen and Angie

My co-workers, including my ridiculously awesome boss, Colleen.

Roommates

Amanda, Luke, and Jess: The best roommates anyone could ask for.

Allie and James

Allie and James: The two I'd be absolutely lost without.

Friends

And most importantly, part of the group of friends that has become my family over the past few years: Danny, Alex, Nicole, Amanda, John, James, Ashes, and Bill.

I love you all, and I promise I’ll visit the Sydney Opera House, go snorkeling, pet a kangaroo, and all the other ridiculous things you told me to do.  I may even think of you occasionally when I’m not too busy having awesome Sydney adventures.  :)