It has now been a few weeks since I have been home from my trip to Europe and I have been trying my best to transition back into my crazy, American lifestyle. For some, transitioning back from a major traveling experience is no big deal. They can pick up where they left off. For me, on the other hand, it hasn’t been as easy. After the very few times I have been out of the country, I realized I have a hard time and am sensitive to the shift of cultures and lifestyles. The good thing about this is that it forces me to deeply reflect on the experiences I had, where I am at now, and where I am moving forward. Another reason why this transition has been so difficult is because of the challenges I stumbled upon and how they have changed my outlook and perspective on life. That being said, and without going into those stories, I will say I am incredibly grateful I had an opportunity to figure out and manage some difficult things while being on my own for five weeks. If it weren’t for this time away and my self-dependence, I would not feel as grounded, centered, and surer of who I am.
To sum up my trip, I traveled to London, Malaga (Spain), Valencia (Spain), and Prague. I began my trip in London seeing a friend of mine who was studying for the past semester. We visited the National Gallery, China Town, Camden Market, the Sky Garden, and ate outstanding food. My time here was short, but it was wonderful to be back for my second time. From London, we traveled to Malaga, Spain to visit another friend who has been studying. We soaked up the sun at the beach, jumped into the Mediterranean Sea, went paddleboarding, saw many street art performances, and ate tapas, tapas, and even more tapas. This, too, was a short trip and the fun only lasted a few days. I then journeyed via train to Valencia, Spain where I stayed with a host family. During my time here I interned with Villarreal CF (professional Spanish futbol team), took Spanish classes, visited Spain’s voted most beautiful city (Albarracin), visited the famous Ciudad de las Artes y Las Ciencias, and made some memorable friendships. For my final destination, I flew to Prague to visit another friend that moved there. We roamed the city, visited the Prague Castle, spent time at the river, ate the best gelato of my life, traveled to a city outside of Prague (Karlovy Vary), watched a Czech rap show, and watched the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.
I think it is important to acknowledge that traveling isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, it doesn’t always live up to your romanticized expectations, and it is okay to struggle on such a journey. It was the people I met along my trip that helped support me through my days and challenges. From the people I met for an hour on a train and will never see again to the people I met that I now call my best friends. Life is definitely too short to get stuck in our bad experiences and let them dictate how our life moving forward will be. It has taken me almost three weeks since arriving back to the United States to process everything I experienced in five weeks and I think I will continue to process for a while. I am grateful for the time I had, the friends I got to see, the friends I got to meet, and all the beautiful cities I got to visit along the way. Now it’s time to take the lessons I learned and put it towards my final year in college and onward.