Preparing To Accept Both the Highs and Lows of Travel

Victoria Pembroke
September 2, 2021

Well, I pretty much put off this post until the very last possible moment. Not merely out of procrastination (although I do procrastinate a lot), but more because I wanted my predeparture post to feel as authentic and real as possible, and up until this moment, my trip to Milan felt anything but real. But now, with me sitting in Terminal 4 of the JFK airport watching the monitors that read “Milan” and “On Time,” everything about my study abroad journey this fall is starting to feel incredibly surreal, and with that, has come all of the nerves.

For the past couple weeks, I’ve managed to keep extremely busy, visiting different friend groups one last time before my trip to Milan and even being a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding halfway across the country. This has led me to be in Hartford, Boston, Denver, and of course, New York City (where I’m flying out of) all within just two mere weeks, which has in-turn enabled me to not really have to think about my study abroad experience all that literally yet. Up until now, I’ve had constant conversations with friends, dinner reservations, and drives and flights to make. And while yes, studying abroad in a couple weeks was always in the back of my mind throughout it all, it was simply only a concept, an idea. But now, as I prepare to board my eight-hour flight to Italy, the trip is all incredibly real and present.

So now, naturally, the worries that have been somewhat suppressed for the past couple weeks are all beginning to surface. Did I pack way too much? Did I pack not enough? What will Milan be like? How will COVID affect my journey? Will I experience a lot of stress or culture shock? Will I be able to make friends and have fun? Will I get homesick, or have enough money? Will I love my housing or absolutely hate it? Will I be able to keep up with self-care and stay both mentally and physically healthy?

These are just several of the thoughts rushing through my head as I spend my last hours (at least for a few months) in the United States. And, my guess is that if you’re studying abroad too, you likely have a lot of the same worries.

But in all honestly, the only way I can truly respond to my concerns is with a simple shrug of my shoulders.

Will I have enough money? For some things, of course. For others, maybe not.

Did I pack too much? Most definitely.

Did I pack not enough? Probably.

Will I get stressed? Yes.

Will I make unhealthy choices sometimes? Likely.

Will I get homesick and sad? Inevitably so. But…

Will I make friends? Surely.

Will I have fun? Yes!

Will I not want to trade a single moment—high or low—for the world? You betcha.

You see, travel (and all of life, really) is all about the highs and lows. I think many of us often romanticize this image of travel and studying abroad so much so that we often think every single moment of our journey has to be picture-perfect and flawless, when in reality, there will be plenty of unavoidable lows that might just not be glamourized on Instagram as the highs are. The sooner we realize this, the easier travelling will be because we’ll have an understanding that not every moment has to be perfect, and in fact, it’s often the moments of struggle where we grow and learn the most and that help us appreciate the good moments even more.

It’s funny—I wasn’t entirely sure at first what I wanted the theme or points of this predeparture post to be about. But just yesterday, I saw my boyfriend and his family once more before leaving, and ended up watching part of the Anthony Bourdain film with them. The film, while showcasing Anthony’s genius but also struggles and eventually, tragic end, really talked a lot about how one of Anthony’s greatest faults was that he was an utter romantic, always having this ideal vision of what life should be. However, as the film so accurately pointed out, when living life like this, you’re automatically setting yourself up for failure as life will never be able to live up to your expectations. You’ll always find yourself searching rather than appreciating the life right in front of you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an idealist just as much as the next person, and I think dreaming and romanticizing life is so vital. However, I think it’s extremely important to still expect that things will inevitably go wrong at some point (Murphy’s Law, right?). But just because they do doesn’t mean life is bad or we are a failure. It’s a bad moment, not a bad life.

So, while I begin my experience abroad for almost four months, I will continue to keep my expectations high and stay dreaming, but I will also welcome the lows as they come and try to laugh at the many mistakes I’m sure to make.

I want to grow and learn and live these next four months, and if I have no lows to talk about when I return home in December, then I can assure you that I did none of those three things.

Victoria Pembroke

<p>I'm Tori and I'm from North Bennington, Vermont USA. I'm currently a third-year student at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts studying Finance with minors in Spanish and Information Design and Corporate Communication. At Bentley, I'm treasurer of the Ski and Snowboard Club, Scholarship Chair of Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority, and a member of the Women's Leadership Program, Bentley Literary Society, and Habitat for Humanity. After graduating Bentley I hope to work in corporate finance or investor relations for a few years before eventually following my life-long passion of starting my own fashion brand! I'm therefore so excited to study abroad with IES Abroad in Milan through their Business Studies and Internship program because I'll not only be able to grow as an individual, meet so many new people, and experience an entirely new culture/see new places, but I'll also be able to have hands-on experience in this huge financial district and fashion capital of the world! In my free time I love to alpine ski, read &amp; write, explore new restaurants and visit Boston, have fun with friends, and of course, shop!</p>

2021 Fall
Home University:
Bentley University
North Bennington, VT
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