In honor of all of the amazing travel experiences that the Castañeda Correspondent Scholarship allowed me to take while I was studying abroad in Greece, I’d like to share with you, some of the “bloopers” and the lessons I’ve learned from them.
It may be a surprise to some, but the bulk of my favorite and most outstanding memories don’t come from flawless, problem-free vacations, but rather clumsy accidents, intrepid on-the-go decisions, and just plain old bad, bad luck. They are things that make you angry, nervous, or anxious in the moment, but deep down you know that you’ll laugh about it later.
I went to Edinburgh and saw Victoria Street, found my family name in a book of historical records and got to see the Scottish highlands. On the way back from the highlands we got a flat tire in a rental car. We were stranded for three hours in the dark, and once we were fixed, we still had to drive multiple hours back to the city.
- Patience and optimism can move mountains
Since my first flight was delayed from Finland to Belgrade, I missed my connecting flight and had a 12 hour layover in Serbia. Luckily, the airline put me up in a five star hotel near the airport where I got a free 3 course meal and much needed nap.
- Longer layovers are safer than shorter layovers
In Rovaniemi, I hit my head on a low-hanging glass light fixture in our airbnb on the first day and got a concussion.
- Travel insurance is always a good idea
One of my favorite trips I took while in Europe was to Füssen and Garmisch Partenkirchen. We saw the Neuschwanstein castle and tried to go to the top of Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, but in Garmisch, it ended up sleeting the entire time so we couldn’t go to the top of Zugspitze or even go outside for more than a few minutes. Luckily, our hostel was 10/10 so we spent those 48 hours sitting in a sauna, watching Shrek in a hanging chair overlooking the snow-covered Bavarian Alps, and laying on the hostel floor eating Burger King chicken nuggets.
In Munich, we locked our baggage in a luggage locker so we could walk around the city before our flights departed. We came back to find that we somehow did it wrong and our token opened the wrong locker. After frantically running around the bus station, an employee managed to open our locker. We RAN to catch the train to the airport; we made it with one minute to spare.
- Be flexible and don’t get upset when plans change
- Arrive early to account for possible issues
Obviously these trips included other wonderfully unforgettable experiences, but I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my less-conventional travel stories! Thank you Dr. Castañeda, for the opportunity to travel throughout Europe while studying abroad with ISA in Greece. Through my travels, I have networked and created bonds with amazing people, seen beauty like no other, made all of these remarkable memories, and learned so much about myself and all the things I am capable of. You have greatly influenced my life and I am so incredibly thankful.