Learning As I Go

This weekend contained a vacation within a vacation. Me and two friends took a weekend trip to the Amalfi Coast area which we learned is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world! For good reason, it was breathtaking. We stayed in Sant’Agnello for 4 nights and spent our days exploring Sorrento, Pompei, Positano, Amalfi, and Capri. Though this trip was great because of the amazing views, historical ruins, and incredible beaches; it was also the most challenging time I’ve had abroad so far. A lot of time was spent planning for this weekend, but few of our plans went as anticipated. Scheduled tours were cancelled, transportation was unreliable, and all 3 of us were sick with either tonsillitis, pink-eye, or a bad cold mixed with food poisoning.
Here are some things I learned during this weekend:
1. It doesn’t matter how much you plan, outside factors can cause those plans to change. I did a horrible job of adapting to the adversity we faced this weekend when things did not go our way. I let my frustration over things I had no way of controlling ruin my day 2 out of the 3 days I was there. If I would have just accepted the fact that things weren’t going to go as expected, and then move on and look forward to what I would experience instead, I would have had a much better attitude towards the situation and allowed myself to enjoy the day instead of wallowing in the frustration.
2. Just because I’m in Italy, doesn’t mean that “real life” stops. Getting sick this weekend was certainly not in the plan. Not only did I start the trip with a pretty bad cold, but the 3rd night I also got food poisoning. Again, this wasn’t something that I could control. This could have happened in Minnesota, this could have happened in Kansas. So of course it was possible that it could happen in Italy. Though it seems I’m a million miles from home and my regular life, being on the other side of the planet doesn’t change everything.
3. It’s okay to take a break. Traveling, sightseeing, and constantly being around masses of tourists is all exhausting. I want to be able to make the most of my time here and do everything possible, but it’s so hard mentally to keep going now that i’ve been on this adventure for about 4 weeks. I shouldn’t feel bad about needing a break from it and staying home for the day to relax and reenergize before going out again.
Before leaving for Italy, everyone told me how this study abroad experience would be the time of my life. What I failed to realize was that while yes, it absolutely is the most amazing experience, it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I spent a lot of months preparing myself for this trip, but the learning I’ve had to do while I’ve been here has been a major adjustment for me. Nothing comes easy being alone in a foreign environment so I’m going to have to keep learning as I go.

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