I don’t believe people when they say that life is about the journey rather than the destination. I love being in new places, but the process of reaching them makes me pull at my hair.
When I left for Italy, I had only ever been on two flights that I could remember. One on the way to Disney, and another returning home. I remember being shuffled around the LaGuardia airport that morning in a state of bewilderment, impressed by the sprawling size of everything: the length of the check in counters, their coiling rope-lined queues, the masses of people swimming through security, the contrived maze of court-sized rooms, the strange trails of duty-free shops. I couldn’t comprehend how it was possible that all of these people, my classmates included, understood without explanation how to navigate the endless, fluorescent liminal spaces.
If you read my first blog post, you know that to describe my experience flying into Italy as stressful would be an understatement.
Halfway through my time living in Italy, the stress of traveling hasn’t left.
Booking flights, trains, and buses is one thing. Traveling is hypothetical during the booking process: scouring websites for flight deals and comparing the practicalities of buses to trains are removed from the physical act of traveling. On paper the planning might even look fun. A long train ride might seem like a scenic excursion, and a flight an opportunity to read while passing over the Alps. In practice, however, I dare say I hate it.
During our fall break I made my first solo trip. First I flew from Pisa into London, and then rode a bus from London south to Brighton, where I met an old friend of mine. After a few days there I caught a train from the southern tip of England seven hours north to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. The night before my flight home, I took a bus to Glasgow for a concert, after which I returned to Edinburgh at 2am, and proceeded to stay awake until I left my Airbnb a 5:30 a.m. for an 8:45 a.m. flight into Bologna. Finally, I rode a bus from Bologna to Siena. I was back in my apartment at 7 p.m., half starved, exhausted, and smelling of public transport.
These things haven’t become more enjoyable, but they have become easier. Two months ago when I left New York I felt like an imposter moving through the airports, feeling as if everyone around me had been clued in on something I clearly couldn’t understand. Now when I enter an airport I no longer feel the anxiety that comes with confusion. Instead I am anxious about outcomes I can predict: delayed flights, missed buses, hunger, tiredness.
If you're embarking soon for your abroad trip, apps you should go ahead and download now are Omio, Trainline, Flixbus, and any airline apps for the flights you're booking (KLM, British Airways, Delta, etc.). If you're like me and enjoy hiking, the AllTrails app is an honorale mention. And one protip: if you're booking with RyanAir, you should check in online the day before you're flight in order to avoid incurring a late check-in fee. These hidden fees are the very reason their flights are cheaper. RyanAir also requires that you visit the check-in counter when you first arrive to collect your flight ticket, whereas Airlines like KLM and British Airways have integrated mobile tickets into their apps, which can easily be added to your Apple Wallet.
If you're apprehensive about traveling, the best advice I can give is to just book it. Managing the stress gets better with experience, and seeing places like Edinburgh or Amsterdam or Paris are worth it. I can also say that the sleep I get after a long day of traveling is always the deepest, most reparative sleep. Nothing quite touches the sweetness of a bed after hours of dragging a suitcase from one ungiving coach seat to the next, listening to the sounds of crying children and adults playing TikToks in public with their volume all the way up.
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My name is Olivia Bozuhoski, and I am a Boston-based Arts Administration student. I love painting, reading, journaling, hiking, wine, and learning about art history. I am thrilled to be in Italy this semester, and even more thrilled to be sharing the experience with students like myself.