Arrival and Flight Attendant Culture

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” –John Steinbeck

I have come to the conclusion that the response and service you receive from flight attendants varies a good deal based on where you are going/coming from.  You would think that all flight attendants should exhibit the same caring attitude, making sure that your flight is comfortable, asking you what you would like to drink as though you are the only person in the world.  And while flight attendants definitely do all of the same things, the way they go about can vary significantly.  Asian flight attendants always have a sweet smile painted on their face, but it’s not usually superficial.  They can actually make you believe that they really care about you.  In contrast, American flight attendants tend to be much more down to business: I’m going to get you want you want and do it quickly so that we can all be happy.  But is that what you really want?  It makes sense, but I think that most people would much prefer the Asian flight attendant.  From my newly formed experiences with European flight attendants, they seem to be  cross between the two: you as the passenger are important, yes, but so is taking care of whatever it is efficiently.  They make you feel important by doing thing…like giving you a voucher for something of your choice on United.com for a light that is constantly blinking on and off.

But that’s enough about flight attendants…maybe my observations will grow as I have more experience interacting with them.  Now on to what you really want to know about…

As of 7:50 this morning, my plane touched down in Italy.  I have to say, an 8 hour flight is still long, but it’s not nearly as bad as a 12 or 14 hour flight.  Seriously.  And what was better was that the seats had their own personal TV screen.  Two points for United in my book, despite the fact that they were annoying at check-in.  What made this even better was that they had already loaded the movies for March without telling anyone, so I wasn’t stuck watching the same movies that I saw on the way back from Taiwan at the beginning of the month.  So, I got to watch Tangled and the King’s Speech.  Both good movies.  What I found most hilarious about the King’s Speech was the way that the airline had muted the movie during the parts with strong and vulgar language.

Then I slept, then we landed, and then we went through customs/immigration.  Much to my disappointed, Italy did not stamp my passport going in.  In fact, they hardly looked at it.  I handed the man my passport, he opened it half-way, then handed it back to me.  Go figure.  Retrieval of baggage was followed by a 1 hour and 45 minute bus ride to Orvieto from Rome.  Beautiful countryside, just like what you see in movie and computer games like Caesar III.  Saw the classic trees, flocks of sheep out on the countryside.  Didn’t get to take pictures yet, but don’t worry, they will come.  We reached the top of the cliff, only to discover that we then had to drag out suitcases up the rest of the hill to the convent.  I worked up a sweat.  This was followed by unpacking, lunch, and a brief tour of the town.

So, I am officially almost unpacked in my room in the monastery.  The monastery reminds more of Taiwan then it does of anything in America–tile floors, large common rooms, but it is very clearly European.  There’s a refectory with a version of the Last Supper and a chapel with frescoes along the top of it.  And much to my great rejoicing, we have consistent hot water and heat some of the time!

The town, or course, is also gorgeous.  The Duomo is magnificent, with paintings and sculpting.  The cobblestone streets are classic.  But it has a local town feel that I’ve never felt in the states.  I think it will be a good semester.  Classes start Monday.  Time to start learning Italian.  And for the first time in 2 months I’m not living out of my suitcase.

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