Friday, July 8, 2016

La Vida Loca

Hola! It’s been a while, so I should probably update this for all my fans (mom and dad). My time abroad has been seriously flying by. Maybe it’s because I have been lucky enough to travel to some incredible places most weekends.
Since I last posted, I have been to Barcelona, Lisbon, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Milan, and Venice! Everything has been absolutely incredible, but my favorite so far is Venice, hands down. 24 hours, 17 miles of walking, 2 (okay, 4) scoops of gelato, and 3 different Venetian islands later, I fell completely in love. The countless canals and century-old, rustic Italian streets are even more charming than I had imagined. My favorite part of the day, though, was a tiny off-the-beaten-path island called Burano. It is an enchanting little island town about an hour ferry ride away, with colorful canal-front houses and warm Italians who really say “ciao, bella” as you walk by (a happy cliche I was delighted by). Whoever decided to create this town and paint the buildings every different color imaginable, I love you. I walked around with such a huge smile the whole day that my face was sore by the time I got back to my hostel. Lisbon and Amsterdam were also super cool cities. Surprisingly, my least favorite has probably been Paris. I ran into some bad luck during my weekend there, and it was relentlessly raining the entire time, so I think it didn’t live up to my high expectations. Although it was undoubtedly beautiful, I prefer the other cities more.
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I want to talk about something that has really shaped my abroad experience: traveling solo. I have gone on both a couple trips with friends and several alone. People tend to be really shocked when I tell them I’m traveling by myself, so hear me out on why I love it so much. I do love to have company while enjoying a new city. It’s really unique to be able to share that experience with someone, and it sure helps to have a companion when you run into bumps in the road. In Lisbon, I travelled with my amiga Louise and we had the most amazing time exploring the city and meeting friends from around the world. But, there are also many pros of traveling alone, like teaching me some valuable life lessons.
For example, it has taught me to rely on myself and be super independent. In each city you have to figure out how to get from the airport to the hostel to the metro to the tourist spots…etc… without any wifi and without ever having been there before. It’s stressful, yes, but it has taught me to be organized, independent, and self-reliant.
Traveling solo has also taught me that people are good! If I am ever in a situation where I get lost, the locals have always been more than willing to help me out, even walk me all the way to my hostel. Especially in our day and age, the media influences the public to believe that everyone is a shitty human being, but I have happily learned that it is not so. And you end up making great connections and friends out of it! I met a 35 year old Italian woman named Valeria at my hostel in Venice who “recognized my island soul” (thanks, Hawaii) and approached me while I was eating breakfast. She lived in the Bahamas for many years and we ended up having so much in common. We ate our breakfasts together, chatted and laughed for an hour, and exchanged phone numbers.
Plus, when traveling alone, you go by your plan! One of my favorite things to do in a new city is go to the center and get intentionally lost. I make left or right turns simply depending on which street looks the most interesting to me. I can stop and listen for 30 minutes to a street performer playing the harp without worrying about whether my travel companion wants to do that, too. I can eat gelato 3 times in one day and no one is there to judge me for it😉. If I had waited to go to these cities until someone else could go with me, I would have missed out!
Besides traveling, everything else is amazing. Classes at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas are awesome and thought provoking and I am adjusting to the Spanish life really well. I do get homesick from time to time, because, well, Hawaii is an easy place to miss. Not to mention, I have incredible people in my life back home (that’s you, mom, dad, HPU friends, Charlotte!) who I miss so, so much. But, I'm still so happy to have this opportunity to explore a whole new culture and can't wait to make the most of every minute.

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