When it was finally time for me to grip that handle of my trolley bag and drag it to the exit door of my home, my palms began to itch and feel cold. It just registered in my brain.
“This is real! I’m leaving Abu Dhabi for two months, away from my family for the first time.” At that point, I didn’t want to go.
I felt like I was 4 again. Every time, my parents would send me to school, I’d sit at the back of the bus and cry. Now, at the age of 20, I felt the same emotion burning in the pit of my stomach.
As human beings, we don’t like change. At that point, it was as if my whole body sensed the sudden change it would bring into my life for good.
Embrace the change then. Give your family a big hug before leaving.
Can you imagine that two months later, when you arrive at the same doorstep, you won’t be the same person again? You’d be stripped out of your bad energies and you’d bring plenty of good energy.
When I left my house, I took with me depression, self-loathing and negative thinking. When I was coming back, those feelings were all replaced with confidence, hope and ecstasy.
And I hope that it would do the same for you.
Before leaving for the airport, make sure that you have a good home-made meal and don’t forget any of your luggage, travel documents and your phone.
Alright, now that you’re on your way to the airport, make sure that you have the following in your shoulder bag/hand bag:
- Visa for entering Italy (if attached separately)
- Flight tickets
- Photocopy of your passport and Visa (really important)
- First Aid Kit (the one you made)
- 2 Euro coins (you’ll need them for the trolley in the airport in Pisa)
Don’t forget to carry your laptop bag with you. The one I have can be worn over your shoulder and also used as a hand bag.
To be on the safe side, arrive at the airport at least 3 hours prior to your flight. If you have already checked in, that’s great! Just hand over your bags at the check in areas, show your passport and ticket, and then you are free to go through the passport control. Stick your luggage tags, given to you, to your passport.
When boarding time is near, just give a call to your family and let them know that you’ll be flying in a short time.
I remember when I finally sat down in my seat, I felt like getting off the plane and going back, even though travelling to a different country was in one of my bucket lists.
When I reached Rome, there were Alitalia crew waiting to escort us to our flight to Pisa. Unfortunately, we missed our flight due to the delay from our previous flight. If you arrive late, but still have reasonable amount of time to catch the next flight, you need to run as fast as possible to the gate number specified on your boarding pass of Rome to Pisa.
If you missed your flight, you should go to the Alitalia help desk and demand a ticket for the next flight to Pisa and they’ll definitely work something out. We didn’t have to pay for our new ticket because it was not our fault for missing the flight.
You finally reached Pisa and of course you’re dead tired by this time.
Head over to the luggage control section and find your bags using the tags that were given to you at the airport in Abu Dhabi (or your country of residence). If you have two heavy bags, then you can use the trolleys stacked nearby. To get access to a trolley, you need to enter two euros into the lock system of the trolleys.
The best way to reach the institute is to take a cab and show the driver the address of the institute (which you will be emailed by the institute’s supervisor) and you can also find it on the website.
If you plan to take the train, then you need to buy the tickets at the Pisa Centrale train station. Ask them to get you tickets to Pontedera Casciana Terme which will cost only 2.60 euros. However, if train tickets for Pontedera are not available, then you can buy the tickets to Florence (Firenze SMN). The train will also stop at Pontedera.
The ticket station closes at 8 pm, so in case you reached late, you need to buy the tickets by card from the electronic system. It is really necessary that you reach the institute before 9 pm. Either that or you need to inform the supervisor of the institute of your late arrival so that the guardian doesn’t leave before handing you your room keys.
Do not leave your luggage alone at the train. Always, be at close distance to your bags in case of pickpockets. Don’t get too carried away with the scenery outside the train. You’ll have plenty of time to take snaps and admire them! For now, just be careful.
If you are travelling by train, then you should stop at the Pontedera Casciana Terme train station. Get down through the stairs and go towards your right in the tunnel. When you reach the outside world, you should take your left and keep moving straight. On your way, you will see a sort of museum, Piaggio factory, and a small Pizza shop with blue colored walls. To recognize the institute, you’ll see “Istituto Italiano di technologica” (iit) on the building.
When you reach there, the guardian will hand you and your room-mate the keys for your room. He will take a photocopy of your passport for security reasons.
I took this picture below after I settled into the room that me and my room-mate were assigned.
You will have a closet with hangars to hang your clothes and a lot of drawers to keep your personal stuff in. We started to unpack our bags as soon as we entered the room to just get done with it.
Keep all your money in a small pouch with you at all times. You can also lock it in your bags and hide it somewhere unimaginable! Be creative! Don’t worry too much though. There is a CCTV camera in the hall that records everything.
Now, end the day with a delicious Italian Pizza!
Just head back to the same Pizza shop you passed by before. We used to call it “The blue place”. Order a Margharita (5 euros only) and enjoy this piece of paradise. If you plan to sit and eat at the restaurant, they will charge you one euro per person as a service fee.
When I reached the institute, I was disappointed for being tired because every moment counted in Italy. If you feel the same, relax. You deserve a rest.
You need to be well rested before your exploration.