Sophia Schuster just might make her Social Politics class after all — no matter what a belching Earth has to say about it.
Schuster, a student at the University of Passau in Germany, planned to hand over her United Airlines boarding pass for a 6 a.m. flight today at Kansas City International Airport — the start of an odyssey expected to end at 8:30 a.m. Friday in Munich.
Throw in a two-hour drive, and she’ll finally be able to attend a noon lecture that she’s been missing all week while stranded in Lawrence, as international travel had been grounded because of ongoing eruptions of Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland.
“I got up every morning and called United and stayed on hold for one hour, but today they told me there’s another flight,” said Schuster, a sophomore who had initially been booked to leave this past Sunday. “If everything is on time, I should make it.”
Schuster isn’t alone.
Kansas University students studying abroad in Paderno del Grappa, Italy, have run into their own problems. Chris Clark, a junior from Overland Park, had hoped to catch a flight Sunday back to the U.S.
The program had ended a day earlier, and money’s running thin.
“The cheapest hotel and hostel rooms are $30 per person per night and you spend another $20 to $30 on food per day, plus the cost of sightseeing,” Clark said. “It adds up pretty quickly.”
Clark’s had enough. He’s just ready to return home.
“Although it is amazing traveling anywhere you please in Europe on the weekends, I think it’s time to get back to reality,” he said.
KU junior Chelsea Holman hadn’t planned to leave Europe until April 30, but even her late departure hasn’t shielded her from frustrations. Hopes for travel elsewhere in Europe have been dashed. Lines for trains are long. Overnight accommodations are a nightmare.
“We’re getting kicked out of ours soon because our hotel is overbooked, so we have to go search for a new hotel,” said Holman, who is from Wichita.
In Lawrence, Schuster said she was fortunate to avoid such woes. In 2009 she’d spent three months in town for an internship, staying at the North Lawrence home of Bob and Patsy Moody, longtime supporters of Lawrence’s sister city partnership with Eutin, Germany.
The Moodys were more than happy to let her extend her stay.
“When you’re ready to get back and you can’t, it’s a terrible feeling,” Schuster said Wednesday. “On the other side, I’m really happy I could stay here and not be stuck in Chicago, where I would have to pay a huge amount of money for a hotel.
“It’s quite cheap here and there are nice people around.”