I remember flying to the U.S last year in August. It was my first time on a flight and traveling far from home alone. Everything about my time in Washington was perfect and exciting, so I never thought things would come to a screeching halt because of a pandemic.
I didn’t get the chance to say a proper goodbye to my dear friends, my fellow exchange students, my family and even my school teachers. Leaving Washington was the hardest thing for me to do; it was scary to be on a plane during this time and I didn’t know what to expect when I got to my destination.
It was like a horror movie. The airports were so empty and had an eerie feeling to them. On my flight to Washington D.C., we were forced to stay apart from the other passengers. It was always my dream to have a window seat, but at that moment, I had no interest at all.
I flew out internationally the next day. My anxiety level skyrocketed during that 15 hour flight. As I was still in my anxiety bubble, I heard that someone had fainted at the back of the plane and the cause was unknown, which did not soothe my nerves. I was praying for everything to be okay every hour of the flight.
But looking back, I’m glad I was one of those South Africans in that repatriation flight because we made history! And I am so glad I made it home safely, which is really the most important part of it all.