February 3-4-5, 2011
The Boston and Dallas flights both ran very smoothly. Once we reached LAX there were about eight of us with the program who found each other in transit. We meandered from one terminal to the next, only to discover that the line at the next check-in desk was crazy. We also discovered that the new airline only allowed for one free checked bag, where we were all told two. So after a good two hours of waiting in multiple lines, and $115 later, I was heading through security (TEAN was awesome in helping us get a reimbursement for this). Security only took about 20 minutes to get through. It was probably the fastest part of the whole trip.
Once on the plane I sat in my seat, 64E if I remember properly. It was in the middle row, a row which was totally empty. So I sat waiting for the rest of the group of eight to show up, wondering who would sit beside me. I didn't have to wait too long. The rest of our group of eight showed up, and Travis, a fellow Palmy student, sat next to me. Soon after that a girl sat on my other side. Come to find out her name is Kristen and she's going to Palmy too. So now all of us wanted to know who was sitting on the other side of Travis since there are only four students going to Palmerston North this semester with this program.
Not too much time later and Kaleb, our fourth, showed up. So yes, all four Palmy students were seated next to each other for the international flight to Fiji. It was crazy. It was also the beginning of the end for us. It was a great friendship from the start (that's what I think anyways). To steal a quote from Kaleb's blog: "California to Fiji was a quite lengthy flight, but I was able to meet the 3 amigos joining me from the States in Massey University at Palmerston North. They are: [Kaleb from Minnesota], Kristen from Kentucky, and Travis from Texas (Too bad [Kaleb] wasn't [Melvin] or something for yet another alliteration)."
So in introducing ourselves to each other, I 'let slip' that my birthday was in two hours and asked if they minded staying up. They agreed to stay up and sing before falling asleep. It wasn't hard either since we were served dinner about 30 minutes or so after takeoff.
I slept for most of the plane ride, though I did keep waking up due to some pretty extreme turbulence. But we made it to Fiji without any major issues. And what a place. It was around five in the morning when we landed yet there was no need for a jacket or even pants. The place is amazing. More on that to come...