Diversity Abroad – Blog

Travelers struggle against jet lag

When traveling abroad, you might come across something known as jet lag.

 Jet lag is the term used to define an imbalance in our body’s “biological clock” triggered by a change in time zones usually caused by traveling abroad.

 So how did it happened and how did I deal with it? Well, this is my story…

This post will be written in 24-hour military time.

Miami, Florida, U.S.A.

 I arrived to Miami International Airport on June 29, 2016 at 13:00. On the front desk for the Air Berlin Airline I met my professor and classmates to check in our bags and get ready to head to our terminal.

Meet my classmates & professor.

Meet my classmates & professor.

Our first flight was a connecting flight from Miami, Florida to Dusseldorf, Germany. It was my first time traveling to Europe so I was beyond excited to get on the plane.

As I approached the terminal, I met my roommates and realized that we were sitting fairly close to each other on the plane.

My Boarding Pass - Study Abroad

My Boarding Pass – Study Abroad

While on the plane, I had the chance to spend some quality time with my roommates. We got to know each other and talk about some of our interests, goals, and ambitions.

My Roomies!

My Roommates!

 Even though it was a 9-hour flight I would say it was one of the best flights I have experienced in my entire life. We had dinner on the airplane and 1 hour before landing in Germany, they served us breakfast. Even though I tried my best to sleep on the plane, I was only able to watch some movies and read a couple of chapters on my book. The airline offered around 40 movies to choose from so it became even more difficult for me to just simply fall asleep.

My company on the plane.

The cause of my jet lag.

I was a bit disoriented as we landed on German soil. I noticed that the time had changed but I wasn’t well aware of the time back home.

My view of Germany from the plane.

My view of Germany from the plane.


Dusseldorf, Germany

We had 30 minutes to go from one plane to the other. At first my classmates and I thought we had plenty of time, until we realized that the terminal to board our plane to Florence was almost 20 minutes away from the terminal in which we landed. Dusseldorf’s airport was not only big, but complicated too.

The flight from Dusseldorf to Florence was estimated to be around 2 hours. By the time I boarded the plane from Dusseldorf to Florence, I was sleep deprived and desperate to get to Italy.

While on our way to Florence there was a fantastic view of the Swiss Alps.

While on our way to Florence there was a fantastic view of the Swiss Alps.

Florence, Italy.

When we finally reached Florence, at 11:30, (Miami Time: 5:30 A.M.) we had a chauffeur waiting for us to take us to Lorenzo de Medici, my study abroad institute.

LDM's Chauffer.

LDM’s Chauffeur.

At LDM (Lorenzo de’ Medici) we had our orientation and after we headed right out to our apartment at 14:00 (Miami time: 8:00 A.M.)

Lorenzo de Medici Institute.

Lorenzo de Medici Institute.

I was exhausted. My eyelids were heavy and I couldn’t gather my thoughts. I knew it was time for me to go to sleep. It was 10:00 A.M. back home and I had officially been awake for 24 hours…

The only problem is that in Italy it was only 16:00. I still had the whole afternoon ahead of me and if I went to sleep at that time, I wouldn’t be able to rest at night.

Fortunately I wasn’t the only one tired and desperate to sleep. A group of my classmates and I decided to take a walk around our school to get to know the area before heading home at 21:00.

Due to sheer exhaustion, I couldn’t remember what happened after, I remember I walked straight to my room, I placed my head on the pillow and I didn’t wake up until the next day at 12:00, of course after a good meal and a warm shower.

Here are some of the ways I dealt with jet lag and my advice to those of you planning on future endeavors abroad:

  • Try to sleep on the plane:
    • Earplugs and blindfolds can help block sound and light if you are trying to sleep.
    • If you are a light sleeper or find it hard to fall asleep, take some sleeping pills on the plane.
  • Try not to drink or eat anything containing caffeine as they are stimulants which prevent sleep
  • Days before traveling, anticipate the time change for the country you are traveling to. If you know that the country you are traveling to has a time difference of 6 hours ahead of your country  (as was my case), try to consider going to bed later rather than early.

I hope my advice helps you in some way. Had I known, I would’ve at least tried my best to sleep on the plane to prevent jet lag.