My Traveling Paradox

So a few weeks ago, I was having this problem with my shyness. There’s a cute boy in my one psychology class. I’ve stared at him, probably obviously, since day one. So yes, I’m a creep. At the beginning of the semester, I was in this complicated thing with my ex. I guess we’re still pretty complicated. Anyway, it took some time for me to decide to talk to new guys. For about half a dozen different classes, I would try to get up my nerve to say hi to him.. and fail. I just couldn’t imagine what to talk to him about or what goes after the ‘hey, what’s up?’ ‘nothing, you’ ‘nothing’ conversation. Now listen, I have anxiety – Generalized Anxiety Disorder to be precise. I’ve had countless panic attacks and need medication to calm me down some times. After the one class, I was shaking, heart pounding, and feeling like I needed one of my pills. I realized I was crazy. I was on the way to having a panic attack over worrying about how to say “hi” to a boy. A BOY.

I had told some friends about this and every one of them (at different times and places) all related it back to travel and my courage to travel solo. They can’t understand how I’m so nonchalant about traveling the world by myself. How I could backpack Europe by myself or with (what started out as) a stranger (and turned into a wonderful lifetime friend.) How I can plan to spend a year in Australia by myself with no worries. How I don’t feel strange to go have lunch by myself. How I’ve lived alone in my apartment for 2 years. How I’m planning to move to San Diego for the summer – by myself. And then in a hostel in France, I can laugh and have fun with people I met minutes ago.

Nice, France

So here is my conundrum, why is it that I can easily go up to a stranger in a foreign country to make friends.. but I can’t say ‘hi’ to a boy here in the states? I don’t have any worries or doubts or fears of traveling alone somewhere where I don’t speak the language. I don’t mind, no, I LOVE being free on a topless or nude beach. I even like flirting with guys there. So this is my traveling paradox: when I am in another country or new place, I am free and confident to be myself. I absolutely love saying exactly what’s on my mind and talking to whoever I want to. I used to think it was similar to that whole YOLO phrase going around but it’s more than that. It’s more than just ‘hey, I’m leaving to go to another country tomorrow and I’ll never see you again so I don’t care if you don’t like what I say.’ I wish I could describe it better. It also has to do with seeing all these amazing new things every day and since you’re alone, you have to be blab to someone about it! And then there’s also because I’m in hostels where it’s such an amazing welcoming feeling. Everyone is there with similar purpose: to see something new or visit a lovely place or just live life. It’s a whole way of life – hosteling. With all of us having a similar outlook on life, we’re freer to open up and talk and make friends.

What I need to learn is how to get that back: my confidence. Not for this specific boy or anything. I want to be the person I loved while traveling. I was happier and carefree. I smiled and smelled the roses a lot more often. Maybe that’s why I love traveling – because of who I am when I travel. Either way, I’m hoping to turn back into the girl who could start a conversation with anyone at the bar – even the cutest guy. I don’t like this girl who hyperventilates over thinking about say ‘hi’ to some guy.

Advertisements

¡Hola Barcelona!

I arrived in Barcelona yesterday in the afternoon after a long trip. I went with my family on Disney´s Magic cruise to Canada. We stopped in Halifax and St. John. Both were amazing, which I would love to talk more about in another post! Yesterday morning I got off the ship at 9 am. I spent the day with my dad and then got dropped off at JFK around 7 pm. The flight was horribly long. I believe something like 8 hours to Madrid. But with the time difference, I left at 10 pm and got to Madrid at almost noon the next day. I slept awful. The plane itself was absolutely fine, maybe some extra room would be nice. Then we had hop on the next flight to Barcelona. Once we were in Madrid, we were just completely engulfed in Spanish. I took three years in high school which barely helps. They talk fast. Not to mention, Barcelona is a bilingual city: Spanish and Catalan. It´s a big maze of one way streets and then streets that are just for walking and then big streets that the cars will legit run you over. It´s a little nerve racking, to be honest. The girl I´m traveling with, Kris, has a sister and brother-in-law who are living in an apartment in Barcelona for a month. ´They showed us around yesterday. We walked all over, mostly in the Barri Gótic and Las Ramblas areas. So many beautiful things to see just wandering around aimlessly. We went to a big market with all kinds of fresh foods. All the seafood was alive. A bunch of crabs, shrimp, lobsters… just hanging out on ice ready to be sold. No cages either, the ice makes them lethargic. So they just kinda move a little here and there. A lot of speciality foods were there as well, of course. But no, I am not a fan of seeing brains, stomachs, or fish heads being chopped off right there in front of me. Sorry, I am not that adventurous. Later that night, Kris and I headed out to a little bar which was so cute. The owner actually gave us roses! It was so sweet and I felt like I was in middle school and ready to write a note back of ´do you like me? yes? or no? circle one.´ Yes, I know, quite silly. Made it back to the hostel about 3 am. Overslept today through 2 alarms. Woops. I headed out to the Park Guëll and wandered around there for a few hours before getting off at the wrong bus stop back to hostel and wandering around because I was so lost. I´m back at the hostel now resting and making a plan for the next few days.

A deep sigh of relief that I really do like Barcelona. But, in a few days after seeing some more things, I´m very excited to head to France! Anyone have any suggestions of whether we should go to Marseille or Nice? Anything I absolutely can´t miss while I´m still in Barcelona?

Euro-Trip Update with Tips!

Wow, so much to do still for my Euro-trip. I still need to pay for everything! I will be buying the plane ticket tonight from NYC to Barcelona on June 15th. I get off the cruise around 9 AM and my plane departs at 10 PM that night! I found awesome deals with STA… a student travel site. But I still recommend Kayak to everyone else! Actually, Kayak has the same plane ticket as STA but for about $10 less! A total price from Kayak for NYC to Barcelona with one stop is $469! Wow! Best I’ve seen since I’ve started looking on SO many different websites. Kayak FTW!

I also found out about a little community called CouchSurfing! It is awesome, and a little creepy. Basically you make a profile for yourself. Make friends. If you are traveling somewhere and want to either meet up with locals there, you can do it on there. OR the crazy part – you can stay with them in their house/apt/whatever for free. You can also be a host and put yourself out there for people from around the world to contact you to sleep on your couch/floor/extra bed/whatever. It looks awesome if you’re adventurous enough to try it out! The girl who I am back packing with and I are considering it, but nothing definite yet.

Also, the two of us have decided to buy Eurail passes. We’re gonna get the Select Pass for Youth for 4 countries for 7 days (within a 2 month period). I hope it’s worth it. It costs $385. That’s pretty steep, but then again, we are traveling through 4 countries in less than 2 weeks. It’s gonna be quite the crazy trip. Hence, why I’m SO excited for it!

Do you agree with my recommendations or do you have any recommendations of your own?

From Canada to Europe to California, Yes Please.

I really wanted to get all my pictures from when I went to London, England this past January and put them all into a little movie for your viewing pleasure… but I can’t stop obsessing over Greece! Let me just say, June 10th till August 4th I will be on vacation far from home minus a little less than a week! June 10-15 I will be on a cruise from New York to Canada (Nova Scotia.) The next day (well, I still need to buy a plane ticket, so hopefully the next day) I will be off to Spain to France to Italy and July 1st I will be in Greece until the 20th. I forget the exact dates but around July 27th until August 4th, I will be in California for my mama’s 50th birthday! Wow.

A little bit more about the Europe part of the trip: I talked to a few of the girls going on the study abroad trip and one said she was planning on backpacking for about 2 weeks before the trip. I immediately asked to join her. All I really know is we’re starting in Barcelona, Spain then going to the other countries and finally to Greece. Anything along the way, well it just happens! I love it this way, but I also want to start an idea of a little guide route on where I want to stop.

Barcelona to Paris to Nice to Monaco to Cinque Terre to Venice to Florence to Pisa to Rome to Naples to Amalfi Coast to Capri to Athens. I’ll have the weekends free during my stay in Athens so I’ll be able to go to Santorini and other islands then.

If anyone has any suggestions on where to go along the current (definitely subject to change) route or anything I should check out at one of those stops, let me know!

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but I am just going crazy with anticipation for this trip! Yes, I’m excited for Canada and California as well, but oh, my heart is set on this trip. If only I could just get past finals week and then obsess over this trip, then I’d be in good shape. Wish me luck! 

Study Abroad Process – Greece Update

Since fourth grade when we learned about Greek Mythology for the first time, I have been obsessed with seriously anything greek-related. My number one destination spot in the entire world would have to Greece. I just want to immerse myself in their culture, see everything I’ve read about in books, articles, and the internet, and see all the sites that make Greece, well, Greece.

In my opinion, college isn’t college without a study abroad program. After transferring schools, I lost some time and credits that force me to be a ‘super senior’ next year instead of graduating in less than a month like most of my friends. It’s alright, because it gives me another summer to be able to plan out a study abroad program. A few attempts in the previous years have failed, so I have my hopes high for this one to pull through. Last fall, I found my perfect program – through Google, no less. It’s through a Georgia university and teaches philosophy and art. Great, the art will count towards my art minor. Plus, I get to learn new drawing techniques ON SITE in GREECE. Wow. I was just whatever about the philosophy courses since I already had my philosophy 101 credit for my core classes. But, I looked into the syllabi, the one was all about greek mythology. My 10 year old self is shrieking with glee inside.

So, I found the perfect program, pretty affordable, and such a nice teacher that has helped me every step of the way. But the process for both schools is so tedious! I need this signature from this person, the syllabus from this teacher to give to that teacher to sign off, to this advisor, to that advisor, to faxes back and forth for signatures, then more signatures, and just ahh! I’m ready to pull my hair out. I’m not quite out of the jungle of signatures yet, but I’m probably 85% of the way there! Just wanted to give an update for my Greece trip.

As for my accommodations in Greece, I will be staying in an apartment in Athens, blocks from the Acropolis. It’s from July 2-20 with 4-day work weeks and 3-day weekends. Meals are provided during the 4-day work weeks plus a fridge in the apartment stocked with basics. All transportation (for classes) and entry into sites are included. I do have to book my own flight and pay for the airfare. Despite that, I think the price is great for what seems like such a perfect trip. I will continue to update as time goes along.

Have you participated in any study abroad programs or something similar? Would you like to/wish you could have? What was your experience like?