10 days + 7 flights + 6 students + 5 cities + 4 countries
This was by far one of the best weeks of my life. Maybe the travel bug has bitten me or maybe I’m a little more adventurous than the rest, but I hope this adventure never ends. It takes a certain type of person to study abroad and I think that’s why it was so easy to make friends here, we share so many similar qualities (minus the gender 7:1 girl to guy ratio). We have unsettled spirits, are curious, love new cultures, and we all got on the plane.
One of the lessons I’ve learned that will stick with me for a long while is that it’s not really important where you are as long as you have good people sharing the memories with you.
Places are just places without people to experience them with.
Friendships abroad are unique, different than at school or wherever home is for you. They are fast to form, driven by adventure, non-judgmental, and well worth a decent goodbye at the end of the semester filled with what I assume will be many tears – friends for a lifetime.
Over spring break I spent ten days with some pretty crazy but pretty wonderful people. I don’t know how but we ended up in the coldest places for the week. (And by I don’t know I mean I take full responsibility because I was the one of the people that planned the trip.) 1. Stockholm, Sweden. 2. Copenhagen, Denmark. 3. Budapest, Hungary. 4+5. Athens + Crete, Greece. We didn’t hit the cities at the right time, but when you are given a spring break, do what you have to in order to see as many new things as you can.
Surprise. None of the cities were what I was expecting. What I’ve learned is that having expectations is overrated, either way you’ll be disappointed. If it’s what you expected then it’s not new enough. If it’s not what you expected it can take you off guard. Go in with no expectations and you’ll never be disappointed – everything will just be new and different.
Overstimulation. That’s probably the best word I can use to describe the experience. If I hadn’t brought my camera I don’t think I would remember anything. A week felt like a month and by the end of the trip I didn’t know what day it was or how long it had been since we left Rome.
The one thing I always knew was that I was not alone. When I was exhausted, hungry, irritated, lost, or ecstatic I knew I had people with me. I shared all those moments with people who understood me. We may have snapped at each other sometimes or shared moments of complete awe and admiration, but we arrived on the other side together. We may not have all had the same perspective, but to an extent we understand this experience like no one else will.
We are about to split ways in roughly two weeks. I don’t even want to count the days because I know they are too few. When we go home everyone will ask us the same questions: how was it? favorite place? favorite food? least favorite place? I know I will spend hours explaining the same thing and I’m ok with that because it’ll give me a moment to reflect and live in the nostalgia for a bit, but I also know that they won’t be able to fully understand what I’ve seen and experienced. It’s something I want to share, but don’t know if I can. I am the same person as when I left, but I’ve also changed – I’ve become more of who I am, more comfortable in my own skin. Sure I’ve done some dumb things, but I also think I’ve made some great steps forward in being a human being. I’m living in imperfection and recognizing where my identity comes from – and it’s not anything of this world.
You don’t have to go to a different country to learn these things. Like I said, it’s not really about the places. Sure it’s cool to go to Sweden and Greece, but without meeting people and making new connections what’s the point. People will always make the places otherwise you’re gonna walk through life looking at a lot of pretty buildings and that’s about it.
Go somewhere new.
It may be in your town or city of 1000 or 100 thousand people, but go somewhere you’ve never been. Do something that scares you and do something you’ve never done before. It could be baking a cake! Or it could be going skydiving or going to Europe, but do something. Live a little – or a lot. You will always have regrets in life, but don’t let it be never doing.
“It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.”