“You will never be given a challenge you cannot overcome.”

This small piece of wisdom was the first quote I taped to my mirror after opening the mail on April 1.

It is also the only quote I have taken with me on my gap year across the world, as I have realized that the sole constant in my journey so far has been the looming presence of obstacles.

But few obstacles in my life ever left me more terrified, distressed, weak and lonely as those that I encountered in London.

It all began with a pleasant sleep on a nine-hour flight to London Heathrow that arrived a dozen minutes late, amid drizzle. I gazed out the rain-laced window onto the tarmac as I pressed a thick manila envelope to my chest. Between its soft paper limbs were dozens of notes, documents, client profiles and project ideas I had prepared for my long-awaited internship with a top communications firm in London.

At 18 years old, this was my first job abroad and I felt so blessed to have been considered, interviewed and eventually accepted for such a position that I hadn’t let the envelope out of my sight since I boarded the plane.

I then proceeded to immigration, where I truthfully answered every question asked of me. After the first 10, the inquiries grew more and more meticulous, until, finally, the immigration officer seized a massive stamp and thrust it forcefully upon a petit white paper.

“I don’t buy that you are just here for an internship and that you don’t have a work visa as an American. I am detaining you,” she barked while jabbing the paper at me and then nodded towards a bench a few feet away, adding, “I will come speak with you in just a moment.”

Twenty minutes and 20,000 heartbeats later, two uniform-clad men arrived and took me to a back room, where I observed an officer handle every item in my two bags until they were stung across the gleaming table. Upon finishing, he shrugged and told me I could put everything back.

My reward for repacking was another tour through a labyrinth of halls to a deserted gray room so secure it took multiple passwords, swipes and touch screens to access. There, I was offered a cold plastic bench. The guard exited. Her heels clinked with torment as she walked away. It is the same clink that birds hear when the cage door locks. Lowering my head into my hands, I whispered in disbelief and bewilderment, “Why am I here?”

The echo repeated my message. Returned to sender.

Three hours had passed when I was required to make ink imprints of my fingers. Then, with stained digits, I entered another gloomy chamber and was instructed to answer just the questions I was asked and nothing more.

“First question: How do you feel?” the blue-brimmed officer bellowed at me.

I replied, “Anxious. Rattled.” The officer scribbled my response by hand after writing his own question. Then, spinning the paper around, he jabbed at my two adjectives and barked, “Is that what you said? Then sign here.”

This became a redundant pattern. Ask. Write. Answer. Write. Speak. Sign here.

The room was so pitifully quiet and cold that my heartbeat was the only soundtrack. Finally, the questions stopped and I was sent back into the first dreadful chamber.

Forever passed.

Finally, I was hauled back into the interrogation room and the officer re-appeared. “We have decided that, despite your unawareness of having to provide a work visa as an American to hold an internship here, we are denying your entry into the United Kingdom.”

Shock overtook my body. My breathing became shallow and rapid.

Unrelenting, he continued, “We are deporting you to Denver tomorrow morning. Because we believe you have been truthful to us, we will allow you to go to your hotel and return here two hours before your flight. Your previous flight fare, nights’ stay, taxi fare to and from your hotel, and nutritional needs will be your responsibility to pay for. You may leave.”

My body started to rattle with heaving tears. They’re sending me home?! What about my internship?!

This was not a challenge I had predicted.

To be continued…

Fairview High graduate Monika Lutz’s My Gap Year runs every other Thursday in the Colorado Daily. Follow Monika on Twitter at @monikalutz.