18 April 2010

An Inconvenient Plume

What a great way to describe the volcano erupting in Iceland this past week. I totally stole it from MSNBC...but it’s the most accurate title ever. As most people by now know, the volcano that is under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier (not a typo, that's the correct spelling) has been spewing ash in the skies over Western Europe, causing airport closings throughout the entire area. Also, scientists are unsure how long this eruption will last and if there will be more in the near future (NYtimes article). Bad news for people traveling to Europe, and even worse news for me.

Why? Because I’ve planned to fly from Logan Airport via Icelandair. And if this thing keeps spewing or starts to spew again around the time I need to be traveling, it could potentially be catastrophic to my travel plans (i.e. I would need to find alternate travel FAST). So now, I’m contemplating throwing away my plans for air travel and considering the only alternative I have: taking a cruise to the UK. Which wouldn’t be terrible, but it would be more expensive. And not as fast. It would take me approximately 6 days (some cruises are 16) to cross the northern Atlantic and I would be having anxiety attacks the whole time because I’d be hyperventilating about possibly being a passenger on the next Titanic-like disaster. Ridiculous yes, but it would still happen. But, if this volcano continues to be a nuisance...I’ll be on that ship regardless of my anxiety.

Currently, the only available cruise before I need to be in the UK is on August 8 on the Queen Mary 2 (arriving in Southampton August 14). I would need to find a hostel to live in for the month before my matriculation at RVC begins (September 11). So while it is feasible, it will be more expensive (like..$2000USD more). ALSO, RVC still says that international students won’t be able to apply for direct loans until end of July/early August. Again, bad thing. I need to be able to apply for my visa and have it in hand before I board the cruise, and in order for me to qualify as a visa holder, I need to have the loans secured and I need proof of loans before I can apply. AND: it would make it completely impossible to visit everyone before I leave, especially if I need to save as much money as possible to cover expenses. I really don’t want to have to do that, since I’m planning on spending a week with my grandparents in LI, a few days with my aunt in Brooklyn (probably will stretch to a week since I won’t want to leave), a weekend in Maryland OR Amagansett (depending on construction plans) with the cousins, and then a week with my sister in NOLA. So in order for me to do this, I would need to make my last day at Express the beginning of July (which would be AWESOME, since I’d only have 2 and a half months left to work, but not good for expenses).

SO. Do I err on the side of caution and book a cruise and hope that it's worth it (and I can get a room in a hostel for a month), or do I wait until July/August to book a flight and hope for the best?


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