I’ve been here for 70 days. 70 days of adventures. 70 days of museums and pasta. 70 days of weekend trips to Venice, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Rome, and Verona. 70 days of discovery. 70 days of side streets and 70 days of pistachio gelato. I’ve learned, I’ve cried, I’ve relished, I’ve found, and I’ve conquered.
I’ve caught planes, trains, metros, ferries and sometimes I have to stop and remind myself where I am and what I’m doing. I’m in Italy- a place where the pasta’s literally so delicious I’ve forgotten what actual Ragú pasta is like, and a place where I now feel entitled to be approached as a local instead of a tourist. It’s been over the course of these past two months that I’ve learned more about myself than I have ever learned before.
I’ve met myself- the good and the real ugly, and have been forced into situations that have caused me to think fast and think smart. It’s the real world. And sometimes, I realize, I’m not as adult as I’ve always thought. “Who the heck let this 20-year-old come over to Italy?” I think on some days. And other’s its like, “I could keep traveling forever and never go home. Should I go to Brussels next or Warsaw?”
I wanted to take a moment to blog about what I’ve learned and what I hope to share to the next kids that decide to take a trip over to Europe. I wanted to share why I’m still here and why I’m still standing. Here are a few scenarios that have ALL happened. Some are from my friend and roommate, Taylor Means. We hope to make you laugh, relate, and see our Europe experience through our words.
Take a read at our “sometimes” moments and situations in Europe…
Sometimes you wind up in the back of a taxi with a driver who speaks only Greek. He hands you his cellphone to call the hotel because he’s lost and he’s decided to leave you with figuring it out.
Sometimes your donkey that you’re riding on in Greece trips and falls with you on it. Suddenly you’re worried about your weight. You limp onto the Athens airport and find airport shuttle bus seats uncomfortable from your recent fall.
Sometimes your credit card gets hacked and you have to survive off of 50 euros for two weeks. Yes, you can survive but you have to cut out coffee.
Sometimes your credit card gets hacked twice. You begin to have to ask your friends to spot you. They do, because they’ve recently been hacked too.
Sometimes you have teachers who make it very clear that English isn’t their first language…they try hard to speak it though. –Taylor Means
Sometimes you wake up and say “I’m going to kiss an Italian today.” But then you do, and they become your stalker. – Taylor Means
Sometimes you show up to the train station planning on going to Verona, but then all of the tickets run out so you ask to be put on the next train. It’s headed to Rome, so you don’t even think twice, but then once you’re there, you realize you’re not properly dressed for the Vatican. So you buy a scarf from a local vendor to cover your legs. You get in, so all is good.
Sometimes you really want to strangle your roommates, but they’re the only family you have over here. – Taylor Means
Sometimes you get sick in Greece, and you just really want your momma. (don’t eat minced meat)
Sometimes you underestimate the amount you will have to spend on things. Europe is cheaper than the U.S., but its not that much cheaper. You have to learn to be smart with your spending. (99% of the time we’re stressed about this).
Sometimes you’ll want to go home. Sometimes the return plane ride home seems to be coming up so soon.
Sometimes you fall in love. Love could be the food, the city, the lights, or an actual Italian.
Sometimes you board the wrong train, and the train conductor almost kicks you out. This results in having to pay 24 extra euros.
Sometimes your roommates become your best friends. Travel bonds you for life.
Sometimes you become close with the local coffee shop owner. He gives you free coffee. Always make friends with baristas.
Sometimes your hostel friends and hosts cook you meals and you all become friends. Sometimes parting ways with them is hard, even after only knowing them for two days.
Sometimes (a lot of the time) Europe is accommodating to students. Museums and activities can be discounted for students. Take this advantage.
And sometimes, on some days, you can speak Italian. Other days you can speak none at all.
Europe isn’t always pretty. It’s real. It’s imperfect. It has its bad days. But for it’s bad days- there are plenty of good ones to follow it.