One short year ago I was excitedly planning for my seven week adventure to Europe. I was booking hostels, finding things to do, getting to know my study abroad roomie, and honestly just dreaming about what it would be like to finally set foot on another continent.
I was working my butt off all day and night to make as much money as possible to take over with me because I had paid for the majority of this trip and I wanted to be able to have fun!
And then on June 18 I finally did it. I took my first international flight and stepped off the plane into Rome, Italy. I’ll never forget the feeling of that first day in Italy. I arrived around 9am (their time) and had to wait until 5pm when my friend’s flight arrived from Valencia. I was exhausted, nauseous from some bad red wine on the flight combined with nerves, and totally overwhelmed… I don’t speak Italian.
This was the first time in my life that I have been 100% out of my comfort zone, alone on a different continent, and without access to a cell phone or data plan to ask friends/family what to do.
At first it was totally terrifying but I asked questions in my best broken Italian and survived. I finally got past customs to the receiving area of the airport, and was so overwhelmed and exhausted that I laid down, wrapped my purse in my arms, put my head on my backpack and slept for about 4 hours. On the floor.
Eventually Erica’s plane arrived and we walked to our hostel. All around me people were speaking in rapid Italian. There were cafes and pizzerias and beautiful buildings, and it became apparent that I had found my happy place. We checked in at the hostel and met the really cool girls in our room; one from Korea, two from France, and I can’t remember where the fourth said she was from.
On the way out of our hostel we grabbed a map of Rome with all of the big touristy things to do, and we went wandering through the streets looking for dinner.
And then it hit me. At 8:15pm on my first night, just wandering through the streets of a city I had always dreamed of visiting. I MADE IT. I WAS IN ITALY.
Happiness, elation, excitement, and every other positive adjective you can imagine were all an understatement. And for the next seven weeks I was in pure Travel Bliss mode.
No emails or clients or work or school. Just me, my friends (old and new!), my camera, and a new adventure every day.
That summer I visited Rome, Florence, Bologna, and Venice, Italy.
Bremen, Wolfsburg, Hamburg, Berchtesgaden, Schwangau, and Munich, Germany.
Salzburg and Mondsee, Austria.
and London, England.
I saw so many incredible things, ate amazing food, met the greatest friends, and all in one summer.
And then I came back to the states for school. And don’t get me wrong, this past year was amazing, but I will never forget the summer I spent with just my backpack of clothes, a few Euros, and my passport.
I don’t know if Post-Adventure-Sadness exists, but sometimes I miss the experiences I had abroad so badly it actually does make me sad. Maybe it was the freedom from work. Maybe it was the abundance of delicious, fresh food. Or maybe it comes down to the simple fact that everybody has a place that truly captivates and inspires them. And I have found my place.