This post comes to us from Florence student and guest blogger, Erin Condon. Erin is from the University of New Hampshire.
There comes a point in every study abroad student’s experience when “it” happens. It happens quickly and silently and they won’t know its there until it’s already too late. For me, it happened on a nearly 12-hour bus ride to Prague, Czech Republic. I signed up for Prague a week before departure, on a whim and before I knew how long the trek would be. It was one of my roommates and my first weekends in Florence so we were still in the process of adjusting to a completely new lifestyle. We were impulsive, excited, but most importantly, we weren’t completely broke yet.
So, we clicked confirm and in a week we were off to Prague. While on the bus to Prague, my knees crushed behind the seat in front of me, my phone lingering on 20%, and knowing we still had upwards of 6 hours to go—it happened. I sat there anxious, well aware of the fact I would be spending 24 hours traveling to a country that I would be in for two days, and I felt something inside me switch. A surge of ecstasy ran through my body at the thought of being able to check another country off my bucket list. There was no going back. This is what catching the travel bug feels like.
Catching the Travel Bug is putting the thrill of exploring a new city before a decent night’s sleep. It’s falling asleep on every bus the second the driver puts the gear into drive. It’s the feeling of pure glee when the pilot announces the temperature, no matter how cold in whatever city you’re landing in that day. It’s the hours leading up to your departure, trusting your preparation has been enough and praying the bus you’re hopping on will leave on time to get to the airport. Catching the travel bug isn’t like a cold you can kick with some medicine. It’s addicting, it’s permanent, and it’s here to stay.
My aunt warned me about the travel bug. As a military wife she’s accustomed to adapting to wherever her husband is stationed next. But it wasn’t until he was stationed in Rota, Spain, when she was handed the ability to travel, that she experienced this sensation. I remember following her posts on Facebook, feeling so envious of all of her travels. But now, so fantastically, the tables have turned as she sits behind her computer in Colorado Springs, awaiting my own updates.
When my aunt first asked me what my top three places were, it seemed nearly impossible to be able to answer honestly. It’s a privilege not knowing the answer to the question, “What has been your favorite place?” You might have a favorite, but it would be harsh to answer without defending all of the other amazing things about the alternative choices. However, against my will if I were forced to pick a top three, it’s almost comedic at how different my choices would be:
- Paris, France
- Galway, Ireland
- Burano, Venice, Italy
Every place had something unique about it that genuinely awoke my spirit, each individual time.
I’ve never felt smaller than I did after seeing the Eiffel Tower light show from the perfect view. I don’t know if there’s a city that can make you feel as small as Paris can. Not only the literal size, or all of the sights to see, but the confidence that the locals exude walking down the street. It’s clear who the Parisians are, and you can’t help but feel extremely jealous that this is their city. Even the overall mood of the city, though busy, is just magical.
But then, there’s a spirit that runs through the streets of Galway that produces a contagious cheerfulness, which no one is immune to. But once again, it’s the people that bring the city to life. The bartenders will treat you like family, and tables surrounding you will chime into your conversation with no hesitation. There are street singers of all ages but the ones that make you stop are thirteen years old, the ones who sing with not only passion but hope, too.
And though Burano is little in size, I will never forget the way it made me feel. The sweetest fishing village you’ll ever come across in your life. It’s colorful even on a gloomy day.
However amazed these cities have left me, I remain hopeful that these are my temporary Top Three. I still have more countries to see and cities to visit; the list is ever changing. More importantly, my list will be a work in progress long after my Study Abroad experience is over. But like I’ve been saying, that’s just a side effect of catching the Travel Bug.