“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” –Paul Theroux
Friends, this is my last post before I leave for home. (If you remember that I used this quote to start my last post before I left for Spain, ten points to your Hogwarts house. If you’re not sure which Hogwarts house you are in, just give those points to Gryffindor. Gryffindor is the fucking best.)
I could write a novel on the feelings that come with the end of a semester abroad. It is outrageously hard to put all of this into words. I can’t wait to get home but I know that going home means the end. The end of this adventure, the end of being this specific kind of uncomfortable, the end of Spanish in the streets and bread at every meal and weekend trips with the same fifteen people. It feels just as surreal as the beginning.
I still don’t really know where I’m going—although Julie and my parents will tell you that I can read a map now, which is a pretty big step up from getting lost on the UNH campus in December—but I do know where I’ve been. Giant snowy mountains and quiet rose gardens. Tiny crooked towns and big loud cities. Airplanes and trains and holy shit, so many buses. I’ve been on such an adventure. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that a week from now, I’ll be back in New Hampshire, eating familiar foods and doing familiar things. There’s a sadness and a profound happiness in that.
Things I Want to Take Home:
Tranquila. Take it easy. No pasa nada.
Silliness. You’re going to make mistakes. (Don’t forget to laugh.)
Humility. The world is bigger than you.
Endurance. You can go further than you think. Don’t build barriers in your head.
Friendship. Family and friends, new and old. Remember the little things.
Patience. You’ll figure it out.
Confidence. You’ve figured it out before.
Adventure. There’s always more to explore.
I have no idea how to conclude this. There’s too much to describe and all of it sounds like a record of clichés on repeat. But there is one more thing I want to tell you about.
Twelve of my friends and I took a trip to Rome last weekend. We got lost on the outskirts of the city as a group of thirteen, and working together to figure out where we needed to go felt like some weird and hilarious reality TV challenge. We drank a lot of wine. We cancelled the reservations for our last night at the hostel before realizing that the airport didn’t open until 4:30am and the hostel only let us sit in their lounge until 11:30pm. “We are so much more homeless in Rome than Julie was,” several of my friends muttered as we sat on a safe-ish stoop outside and waited for time to pass.
It was an absolute logistical nightmare.
It was physically miserable.
It was fun.
I wouldn’t have expected the semester to end any other way.
(See below for the story in pictures.)
We fought for our lives to get onto the bus from the airport to the city, and then we swarmed a lot of other places. Traveling in a group of thirteen is like drinking an entire gallon of milk in one sitting – I’m glad we did it for the story, but I probably wouldn’t do it again or recommend it to friends with certain health conditions.
I took a solo trip to visit my sweet friend Pooja in Florence for a day. (The guy we asked to take our picture never took his thumb off the lens.)
Our thirteen-pack split up for some touring back in Rome, and we saw some super old things.
Then came the longest day that has ever been. It was my 21st birthday, but that was probably the least interesting thing that happened. First we got group-lost.
We eventually found the wrong catacombs, then the right catacombs. I tried to take pictures inside but a bald guy yelled at me. He wasn’t even the guide.
Later that night, we went out to dinner for my birthday, and my friend Jeremy bought a selfie stick.
Then came the homelessness.
We eventually got ourselves to the airport, then to the bus station, then home.
It was an adventure and a half, guys. We made it.