“In 277 days I will be over the ocean on my way to Europe for a 35 day tour!!!!!!!!!! Can't wait for this amazing opportunity!!” said my Facebook status August 10, 2014. I never would have thought in a million years that I would be doing something like this. But I signed up, and it was very real.
On May 14, 2015, I arrived at the airport, all packed and ready to leave the country. I was excited, but I was scared. I questioned my decision to go on this trip at all several times. I didn’t know anybody who was going, and I was going to be gone for a long 5 weeks. But I put that fear aside and boarded my plane for this once in a lifetime opportunity.
The moment I landed in Athens, I knew I would never be the same again. I hadn’t even left the airport yet and I knew that I was in a whole new world; a world full of new adventures and the best times of my life. Travelling through ten different countries gave me a new appreciation for different cultures and a new desire to learn more and more. Each country has a different way of making you view the world, and the more perspectives I gained, the more I loved my adventure.
I can say that on the last day of the trip, I was a mess inside (somehow I contained myself on the outside!) I had to say goodbye to the friend that had become my sister so quickly, the friend that has more in common with me than anyone else I have ever met in my life. As I boarded my plane to come home, I knew that this would not be the end. Ultimate Europe made me desire more and more of the world, and I do not intend to sit back and let life pass me by without seeing all the world has to offer me.
Here I would like to share some tips and stories for anyone interested in this trip, or travel in general.
Tip #1: Sleep on the plane the best you can. The fun starts right away, and it’s best that you don’t start the trip exhausted.
Tip #2: Don’t be disappointed if your fantasy isn’t your reality. Everyone seems to picture Greece as this beautiful place with all the white houses and blue roofs. Nope! That is the Greek Islands. Athens is just a big city. Of course it does have its beautiful areas, like Acropolis and the Parthenon, but it’s not all glamorous. Paris is another one. I love the Eiffel Tower, but the crowded city is just not for me. Embrace it though, because it’s still like nothing you will find in the United States.
Tip #3: Embrace the culture. The first night in Athens, my friends and I were trying to find somewhere to eat. There was a take away shack on the street that seemed like it might be good so we walked over. The menu was all in Greek of course, so we had no idea what anything was. We decided to just point to a picture and order it, hoping it wasn’t some mysterious meat. It turns out that it was absolutely delicious! Make sure you try new things. You can have burgers and fries when you are back in America, but nothing beats a good old fashioned wiener schnitzel from Germany (trust me, I had that today for lunch and it was nothing like it!).
Tip #4: Keep an open mind. You are going to be thrown into a whole new world and will have to adapt to the culture. Don’t not try new things because you are scared of how it will turn out. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Tip #5: Have fun! Travelling is tiring. You don’t always get along with everyone. You will be exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. Don’t let it ruin your trip. Push through it and get everything out of it that you can. Do what you want to do, and try what other people want to do as well.
Travelling is the greatest thing I have ever done in my life. It has opened my eyes and turned me into a person who is full of life and adventure. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Go experience the world right away and discover the amazing things that happen when you do.