I realised that this turned out to be a very long post, so I have decided to give subtitles to each event (it must be the influence of all the academic writing that I had to do last semester) and you can just pick which of these interest you the most. I could have broken these into a few posts, but I think it is paramount to put them all together to show what a month it had been.
Happy New Year!
First thing first, I figured that most of you would probably not realise that I have updated the ‘about missruslee‘ page, so do check it out!
Now that it is January, I feel I can very safely talk about December last year (!!!). Some people might refer to the month as a series of unfortunate events for me, but I prefer, as I told a friend of mine who faced similar predicaments at one point in the month, to think of it as Murphy’s law being at its full force and me somehow having guardian angels in the form of strangers, neighbours and classmates.
So here goes, in chronological order:
To be fair, it was not entirely December’s doing. It probably started some time late November when, for reasons only the dear bus driver knows, the Aarhus Airport Bus decided to leave without me even though I was already dragging my luggage to board the bus. It was probably the first panic attack that I have had in years, when it sank on me that there was a real chance that I could have missed my flight to Copenhagen, which would mean that I would have missed my connecting flight to Shanghai, which would mean that I would have had to miss my best friend’s wedding where I was the maid of honour.
But I made it to the flight in the end. In the midst of my panic attack, two very kind strangers saw what happened (including me running after the bus with my luggage flailing), approached me, and sorted things out for me. They called a taxi, and one of them waited for me until the taxi arrived to explain the situation to the driver (since I was in no condition to speak due to the said panic attack), and the driver assured me that I would still make it for my flight and I would be compensated by the Airport Bus company for the cost of the taxi (which amounted to a whopping DKK 567 or USD 82, unheard of for me even if I decided to take a tour of Singapore in a cab).
The Flight Delay
I think I was not destined to take the airport bus during that trip. On the way back to Aarhus, my flight from Beijing to Copenhagen was delayed by more than an hour due to the horrible weather in the capital of China.
When I reached Copenhagen, I was really proud of myself for dashing in time for my flight to Aarhus – it was only when I arrived at Tistrup did I realise that my checked-in luggage did not dash along with me. By the time I had finished naively waiting for my suitcase at the smallest airport I have ever been and reported for missing luggage, the bus had long disappeared. Two strangers miraculously came to the rescue again – a son whose mother was facing the same problem and whom I had helped by translating all the English words in the airport to Chinese, offered to give me a lift to my dorm. I had no choice but to follow a stranger in his car since the place was already deserted, and I made it back home safely, unscathed. The luggage was delivered to my doorstep the very next day.
(although I would very much prefer calling this episode “Those @$!^%(^ Thieves”, but I don’t swear mostly)
Two thieves decided that it was a good idea to break into my room in broad daylight (as much as Danish winter allowed) during my exam week.
Well, it turned out they were right.
I was away at the campus working hard on my paper when I received a panicked message from my dorm mate that she saw two guys jumping out of my window. When I came home and entered my room, the window was wide open, winds blowing and curtains waving just like how a proper crime scene should be.
And I could have reacted in so many ways. I could have stayed calm and started calling the police. Or I could have gotten so angry I punched the wall next to me until my fist hurt.
Instead, I cried, relentlessly (and embarrassingly). As a result, my very kind neighbour settled all the administrative stuff for me and put himself as the point of contact for the police because I was clearly incapable of speech; another offered to let me sleep in her room that night since my window was broken; my classmates refused to let me out of sight, did their exams at my kitchen and drove me to McDonald’s for comfort food; another cycled in the rain to deliver me food (because clearly the whole world knows that food is the answer to EVERYTHING, for me at least); and one other helped me with my exams from another country. Not to mention my family and a few trusted friends who listened to my sighing and complaining online and displayed genuine sympathetic anger for me.
As if that was not enough to show that the world is a wonderful place, the next day someone contacted me to let me know most of my things have been found! My plea to anyone I spoke to that they should look out for a pink purse with my name engraved on it worked! Apparently the thieves threw my stuff (after taking out the valuables) and it landed on someone’s roof, who then contacted the caretaker of my dorm. Talk about miracles!
Moral of the story: as a good friend put it, #universewins. 😉
I had a dream when I was in Stockholm that I would miss my exam’s deadline and fail the subject (thanks to Denmark’s 100% weightage on the finals). That dream almost became a reality when my laptop decided to crash 15 minutes before the deadline. I decided to cut my losses and uploaded an incomplete version of the exam with no bibliography.
Outcome still unknown, but at least I was assured that having no bibliography would not result in my expulsion from the programme (due to suspected plagiarism) and that my paper would still be assessed as a whole to see whether I pass the course.
Do you know this thing called luggage tags? Apparently they are very important.
I found out just how crucial they were at the Oslo Airport.
When you transfer from international flights to domestic flights in Oslo, you need to pick up your checked-in luggage and check them in again at the departure booth even though you have been issued a boarding pass until your destination. In our case, we flew in from Copenhagen to Oslo and needed to transfer to a flight to Tromsø. So being the oldest of the three of us and the one who has been living in the Nordic countries for four months, I decided to take the lead and re-check in our suitcases at one of those automated bag-drop counters.
My first instinct was to remove the current luggage tag, because that is what staff at airport check-in counters normally do, right? In my head, I just assumed that they would be printing a new luggage tag before the bag got sent on the conveyor belt. I was told to scan something, so I was frantically looking for a bar code to scan and found my luggage receipt at the back of my boarding pass. Once I did that, to my horror, the belt started moving, sending my bag, without any luggage tags, to no one knows where, literally. When we reported the incident to the airport staff, she, after looking at my incredulously, said exactly this: “Oh, but then the bag won’t know where to go!”
Yes, I figured.
She was really kind though and said they would do their best to locate my bag and put a luggage tag for me. However, there was no guarantee that it would arrive with me in Tromsø since it was the last weekend before Christmas and there were probably hundreds and thousands of suitcases moving around in the system.
True, there was no one to blame in this episode apart from my own astounding stupidity, but still, I could have picked a much better timing to be an idiot. We were going to the coldest destination in our trip and I had to send my good winter jacket that was packed neatly in the suitcase roaming around aimlessly at the Oslo Airport. The only thing I was thankful for was that the lost luggage was mine and not my sister’s or my friend’s, so I was the one rightly punished. Oh and that my sister did not disown me on the spot for having such a, to put it mildly, clueless older sister was probably a bonus.
P.S. They managed to locate my luggage in the end on my last day in Tromsø, when I was not going to need my big puffy winter jacket anymore since Christmas was very warm everywhere in Europe.
Grand Finale: the Plunge
Things were actually very calm the next few days in Norway, and we made it to Amsterdam without much drama. To recap, I have been tested, throughout the month, whether I could live without most of my clothes, some of my valuables, a functional laptop (for 15 minutes) and my winter jacket – all of them I answered with a resounding YES!
So to push me even further, life decided to test whether I would be able to live without my cell phone. In the midst of hurried packing, I slipped my cell phone at the back pocket of my jeans, completely forgot about it, and visited the loo. And that was when I heard the ominous sound – like a small brick hitting against the ceramic and a quick splash of water. The next second, it hit me hard that my cell phone was inside and submerged in water. In a state of numbness, I picked it up. Time seemed to slow down, as I stared at the flickering screen and every single drop of water dripping out of the headphone jack.
I did not even have time to panic since we were almost late for our bus to Bruges. I announced to everyone as-a-matter-of-fact-ly that my phone went into the toilet bowl, wiped it dry and rushed to the bus terminal while hoping that there would be a phone repair shop in Bruges.
P.S. To cut this long story short, my phone started working perfectly again after putting it in a bag of rice that we bought for 90 cents. It refused to turn on at the phone repair shop and the guy declared it irreparable. But the next morning, the alarm from my phone rang dutifully at 4 30 AM and it has been functioning as good as new again. 😀
The Other Side of the Coin
With all these Murphy’s law happenings, was December a horrible month for me? Strangely no. In fact, I feel that it was an excellent month, and that I have no reason to complain.
Because on the day the Prequel happened, I made it for the flight in the end and caught up with my best friend’s family whom I had not seen in five years.
The day of the Flight Delay, I was reminded that kindness to strangers is never wasted.
The day of the Break-In was probably the day I felt most loved ever since I moved to Aarhus.
Right after the Crash happened, my sister, whom I hadn’t seen in almost four months, arrived in Aarhus after flying for 17 hours + 1-hour ferry + 4-hour bus ride.
The day of the Idiocy, we checked in to this Airbnb flat with an awesome view.
And finally, the day of the Plunge, I managed to enjoy the beautiful city of Bruges without any distractions from my cell phone.
Not to mention other countless amazing things that happened in the month, like seeing the majestic nature of Norway, having that third or fourth helping of homemade chocolate mousse in Stockholm, falling in love with Gløgg, discovering the awesome hindbaersnitter at Den Gamle By, and just generally being surrounded by the best family and friends anyone could have asked for.
So thank you December, for the very humbling adventures. I think I’m now all set and ready to face the new year.
2016, bring it on!