Within the past two weeks, I’ve traveled to Capri and Bologna. I loved both of these places for different reasons and experiencing these new places with friends from IES Abroad has been really special. However, as I’ve been traveling more and planning more trips, I am constantly learning from the missteps that I took and am preparing for possible problems that might occur while I’m away.
For example, I went to Capri with seven other people which seemed like a good idea — ‘the more the merrier’ type of attitude — but I quickly learned that traveling with a large group just practically isn’t the best way to go. Everyone has their own ideas of what they want to do, where they should stay or eat which is completely reasonable and expected. However, when there’s a large group this makes it hard for a consensus to be reached. Not to mention, splitting costs of meals, accommodations and tickets can be stressful on its own.
This isn’t to say I didn’t have a good time with a large group. I had an amazing time jumping into the Mediterranean Sea for the first time, stargazing at night and taking big group pictures. But, I think it’s just one of those things that I had to experience to learn that maybe traveling with a smaller group can avoid some stressful situations. This is why I chose to go to Bologna with only three other people. It was dramatically easier to do things that caused problems with seven people. Small things like being able to get a table for four people at restaurants or fitting in one taxi were simple to do.
While in Capri, I also learned that while you travel, there will be situations that no one can see coming. In particular, an unexpected rainstorm in Naples caused the cancellations of all of the ferries out of Capri the day we were supposed to leave. This forced me to endure the pouring rain, standing in ticket lines for three hours while Italian men were fighting about who was first in line and getting trampled while boarding the only ferry that left Capri for the entire day. But, these kinds of things happen — no one can control the weather and the inconveniences it might cause. I learned that day that the only thing I can control in these types of situations is the way I handle it and move forward. Spoiler alert: it requires a lot of patience and trusting that things will be okay.
This unexpected rainstorm experience made me really aware of the unknown possibilities that might happen while I’m traveling. While booking for future weekend trips, I’m always sure to purchase refundable tickets even if it means spending a few more euros to cover the cost. And I especially made it a point during this past trip to Bologna to check the weather and bring my umbrella!
The return trip to Capri came with its upsides, though (I promise you it wasn’t all bad!). Since our initial return ferry to Naples was canceled, we were forced to take the ferry to Sorrento. This was a really cool experience and one that would have never happened if it weren’t for that rainstorm. Yes, we were all wet and grumpy, but looking back it was really cool to be in Sorrento for a few hours and experience another Italian destination. I know it’s cliche, but it reminded me to keep in mind that when one door closes, another one opens!
These experiences while traveling are really valuable though they might feel extremely stressful at the moment. If you’re anything like me, this might be the first time you travel without the help of your parents. It’s scary and overwhelming, but I know now that making mistakes is just a way of learning the right way to do something. For example, navigating the train system in Rome was really hard to do the first time—I missed both my original and rescheduled trains because I had difficulties getting to the platforms and reading the board with all of the different arrival and departure times. But, this stressful experience made me really familiar with the train system and now when I use the train, I’m able to do it seamlessly.
Traveling can be difficult, but it’s all worth it in the end. When I look back at my trip to Capri, I don’t think of how stressed I was, I think of how relaxed and happy I was while I floated in the clearest water I have ever seen in my life. I’m slowly learning from my mistakes when it comes to traveling, but I’m really proud of everything that my friends and I have been through so far.
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Hi! My name is Mia and I'm a junior at Occidental College studying Sociology and Art History. I’m from Kailua, Hawaiʻi and love to surf, practice yoga, roller-skate and listen to music! I’m so excited to be studying abroad in Rome for the Fall 2022 semester and can’t wait to experience life in Italy. I’ve got a passion for writing about culture, art and style and can’t wait to explore these interests during my time abroad.