So after two months of preparation, one hour of packing and a two hour drive to Dublin airport, I boarded a plane for Atlanta.
Seven hours later, I touch down in Chicago. Only to be informed by an officious lady at security that my firearm was not allowed in the cabin and must be packed securely in the deck of the aircraft. Nothing gets past her. Not wanting to make a scene, I smiled and told her that I had left my gun at home.
Touch down in Atlanta and straight into a cab bound for a motel where I was to stay the night. Big mistake. I reckoned that the stress of flying and having to endure a 29 hour day, warranted a smoking room for the night. In hindsight, not such a good idea. I checked in and took the rickety lift to the second floor where my room awaited. The weed scented corridor was indicative of what was to come.
Just as I was opening my door, I was approached by a delightful lady coming out of the room opposite my own. ‘’Fancy a real good time honey?’’, she asked. I politely declined with the excuse that I had a long flight and was jetlagged. Lucky I did, when I turned on the television in my room an ad was on informing the audience that over 450,000 people in the state of Georgia have some form of STD. 95% of whom live in the Atlanta metropolitan area apparently, a somewhat disconcerting start to my journey.
The following day, after a brief trip to a launderette to wash the smell of weed off of my clothes, I headed to my pre-booked accommodation to be told that I couldn’t move in for six days. So a week of hotels and motels was in store for me.
After a night in a Hilton wasting my family’s resources, I checked into the cheapest place I could find; another motel in Jonesboro. Only after a $40 cab ride (blowing the saving before I’d even gotten there), I checked in.
To my horror, I discovered that I was stuck with a laptop that couldn’t connect to the Internet and a phone that couldn’t connect to any network, in a desolate place ten miles south of the city and a million years behind the rest of the world.
The motel owner, an odd looking man with an even odder looking wife, informed me that there was an electrical store just six miles up the road. He also advised me to get a bus but crossing the road to the bus stop proved an insurmountable hurdle as the road connected to the Interstate Highway. Having exhausted all other options, I decided to walk with the intention of getting a new American phone or a stylish Apple I-something.
Disaster struck the moment I left the motel. The road turned out to be a highway with four very intimidating lanes of traffic. The footpath, or foot-trodden ditch to be more precise, was insect infested and also was home to a charming baby snake. I was really living the American dream.
Finally, I arrived in a town that seemed straight off the set of Mississippi Burning. The so called electrical store was rather disappointing, consisting of VCR players and repaired televisions. I decided to check out the pawn shop. What a shop it turned out to be, filled with chainsaws, hacksaws, knives, and guns. There were a thousand weapons in all. A customer was busy purchasing a pink handgun, presumably for his daughter (the ultimate Barbie accessory). I began to inspect a suspiciously new-looking ‘’second-hand’’ laptop. The customer left and after taking the laptop to the counter I was informed that it had been restored to its original factory settings. What else would one expect?
Five days later and I’m in my accommodation, which as is commonplace in America, is unfurnished. My bed consists of a duvet wrapped around me on the floor and a towel as a pillow. It’s not exactly what I had in mind when I applied for an exchange with Emory Law School. But still, Atlanta baby!