Just shy of a score ago this Fall, I embarked on an adventure to Eastern Europe to teach English and see a little of the world. This past year I wrote a book, Traffik, loosely based on my experiences.
Talking to my mother the other day, she mentioned she’d found the letters I wrote to her and my father during my nine months overseas, and she read me an excerpt. I barely recognized the written voice of my past self, nor did I remember the details I’d shared, so I asked her to send me some of the letters so I could share them on my blog and reawaken my memories of Slovakia as I revise my story.
I was twenty-one when I flew to Vienna in September – the first time I’d flown anywhere by myself. The next day I would meet the other Americans working for Education for Democracy – the group that brought teachers over to Eastern Europe to teach English – but before I met them, I had to deal with jet lag and spend the night in a hotel near the airport.
“Well here I am in Vienna, if you can believe that – because I can’t. It is 12:30 noon here, and it is about 5:30 am your time. And I haven’t gotten any sleep. On the plane they served us breakfast at 11:30 pm (our time) because we were in Copenhagen by then- which was about 6:00 or 7:00 am. WEIRD trip. Even though I am tired and bewildered I am also very excited and exhilarated, especially because I have gotten this far. When we were flying into Vienna I could see the land from above – mostly farmland with small islands of towns and a few expanses of forest. I was so excited because I realized that I had just flown from Chicago to Vienna, and I couldn’t believe how big the world is, and how diverse and different the countries are. It is definitely exciting to travel. I can’t believe this trip has just begun. I feel like I’ve already traveled lots and lots of miles.”