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Falinge Park High School

Opening Doors; Unlocking Potential

Hi everyone, Muskaan here. I can’t believe it has come around so quickly but it’s finally time to take off for Istanbul. But something you may not know about me is that I have never been in a plane before. This was going to be my first time travelling internationally. So where do I begin?

At first, I was extremely nervous as I didn’t know what to expect. My friends had all been on holidays before and knew the rules and restrictions around flying. When we got to the airport, Miss Malik had asked me if I was carrying any prohibited items such as liquids, creams or sharp objects.

Guess what I was carrying. Liquids, creams and sharp objects. But I didn’t know this was not allowed in your hand luggage and I quickly moved the objects to my main case. After ensuring my baggage was safe to fly with, I thought that everything would be smooth sailing (flying) from this point onwards. Oh how I was wrong.

Airport security is the most nerve wrecking thing to go through. The others in our group were teasing me and telling me security horror stories. I didn’t know what to believe and was anxious going through. In truth, the security for me was over so quickly and my baggage was cleared. Unlike Miss Malik whose items were recalled because her electronics were ‘suspiciously placed’.

After airport security, we walked into the line area where we anticipated the information for our gate. In all honesty, Saba, Halima, Nasrin and I were more excited at the array of shops and the duty free treats available.

Getting back to the lounge, our gate number was released and we made our way to it. This was so exciting as we got to see the plane we were travelling on and other flights taking off. I have never seen a plane up close in real life, and this did not disappoint. My first impression was that it was so big but apparently there are planes that were bigger still.

So, as we awaited to board our flight, I felt that same nervousness and I had felt going through security. I cautiously approached the aircraft and was surprised to see how small it was on the inside. It almost felt claustrophobic.

As we were getting seated and preparing for liftoff, I could hear the engine roaring and rumbling whilst ever so slightly moving. Without warning, the take off took me by surprise and I felt my body push against the seats as the plane catapulted into the air! I had to hold Halima  and Nasrin’s hand during the take off and again when we experienced turbulence which was terrifying. Despite this, the flight itself was actually really boring. You just sit there and try your best to entertain yourself.

And if you think the take off is bad, the landing was even more terrifying because it happened so suddenly with a loud THUD! against the tarmac. This, however, signalled that we had arrived at our destination: Istanbul.

Istanbul airport was incredibly big and breathtaking. It was surprisingly very clean. Mr Ahmed informed us that it was only built a year ago and was currently the world’s largest airport. I can believe that because the time it took to get from the arrivals to passport control felt like a lifetime!

Speaking of passport control- the officer serving us looked like he was losing the will to live. We finally got our baggage and met Sheraz, Youth Work Leader from Hamer Community, who had hired a coach to take us to the hotel. We also met our first Latvian friends, Eveline and Sergei. They were very nice and open made me feel comfortable straight away. I felt very nervous speaking to them at first and there were some awkward exchanges as our understanding of each other’s language wasn’t strong. But once we were in the coach we all relaxed and it was a funny journey filled with banter, Isabel, Antonio and Miss Malik spitting bars using Macbeth quotations. It made the coach ride pass by so much quicker.

We arrived at the hotel only to be met by a group of stray dogs. Mr Ahmed and Miss Malik assured us they were friendly, one even held its paw out for Miss to shake, but I was having none of it. I screamed as it came over to sniff my bags. Another thing about me is that I hate dogs, ask Halima, she’s the same.

All I wanted to do was get to the reception, get my keys and get to bed.

It ended up myself, Halima and Saba to a room; Isabelle Shannon and Nasrin to a room and Antonio and Tayyab sharing.

The girls and I unpacked and I quickly rang my parents to let them know about my experience on the plane and how I was almost ‘attacked’ by a dog. The girls and I then went to dinner, which was not what we were used to at all- but more about the Turkish Cuisine later. After dinner we had a group competition at the football table. First it was Teachers v Students, which we won ofcourse. Mr Ahmed then refereed the second match, in which Antonio and Tayyab were unbeatable.

We soon got tired and went to our rooms to do face masks and unpack. We spent the remainder of the night gossiping and chinwagging, to the detriment of poor Mr Ahmed who was patrolling outside our room listening to our endless laughter until 1:30 in the morning. It was a very exhausting day but it was a day of many firsts for me as well. I am so happy and grateful to have accomplished something that I had never done before and cannot wait for the rest of this adventure to unfold.

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