If you want to be memorable, arguing for the existence of Bigfoot is one way to do it. While sitting at the Little Rock airport, I recognized one person as much for his face as for an outlandish essay topic circa sophomore year. I went over to reintroduce myself and discovered that Aaron and his wife were also moving to Europe—Dublin, to be precise. We chatted about travels and in no time I waved good-bye and was nestled into the first of the day’s three airplanes.

Leaving went smoothly. Earlier in the morning, I had awaken before 5 a.m. to spend my last hour repacking, reviewing last-minute details, and throwing nostalgic glances around my room.  Mom and dad drove me to the Little Rock airport, which we reached before 7. I was absolutely convinced that my suitcase would topple the 50-pound limit, and had already planned which items (extra books, winter clothes) I would leave behind. I was so giddy that the scale registered exactly 50 pounds that I took a picture of the winning number.

My luggage—and I—took the following route: Little Rock to Dallas to Washington D.C. to Madrid. I had chatty characters for companions on all of my flights, especially the transatlantic one. Fellow passenger Antonio is my newest Madrileño amigo. Although he was returning from a 48-hour Boston trip, he couldn’t wait to lisp back into Spanish and filled the majority of our 8-hour flight with conversation.

The practice was helpful, but I eventually hinted that a bit of sleep would help conquer impending jet lag. Somewhere over the ocean, Thursday turned into Wednesday.