I consider myself a ‘jeans and t-shirt’ kind of girl, but it had always been one of my dreams to visit the Fashion Capital of the World, Paris. Little did I know while I was dreaming big as a little girl, my dream would come true much sooner than I had anticipated.
My high school humanities class takes a ‘Europe Trip’ every other year to various parts of Europe. My trip came the summer after my sophomore year. We traveled to Paris, Bavaria, Venice, Florence, and Rome. Before this trip, my farthest journey had been from Texas to Maryland.
I now was farther from home than ever. Being able to visit all of these diverse places was a huge blessing. While in Bavaria, I loved seeing the stereotypical little markets and the funny beer steins everywhere. In addition, I was in awe when I was able to see the different paintings and building we had so often studied in class. One of the highlights of the trip was when we were visiting the Sistine Chapel and I stared at Michael Angelo’s ceiling for probably twenty minutes or more. My studies all made perfect sense now — I could see all the pieces fitting together to get the big picture.
While I learned many valuable lessons on my trip, one that I will use for the rest of my life is to pack using a ‘master list.’ This probably sounds very strange to most people, but when you are a girl traveling for two weeks and you are only allowed one suitcase, it helps. I had a two gallon size bag for each day and that held my outfit, all ready to go.
This technique prevented my ridiculous over packing. I teased my teacher, who taught me this trick, that it was the most valuable thing she ever taught me, much to her chagrin. One of our worst and most memorable moments on the trip was in Rome at about 11:30 at night.
Our tour guide would walk us around wherever we were visiting all day. When it was time to go back to the hotel, she would wind us around the streets so we could not get out at night and find our way — not that teenagers would ever sneak out. We had been visiting a square in downtown Rome to haggle with the street vendors. Since there were fifty of us and only three teachers, we each were assigned one of the three to check in with before we left anywhere.
Two of the freshmen students checked in with the teacher and ran to buy batteries thinking they would make it back to the group before we left, but were left behind. About half way through our winding walk back to our hotel, we realized they were missing. So now we had two students wandering around a square in Rome at midnight, with no cell phones or anything.
Luckily they returned safe and sound with the teachers later that night and we all felt at ease again. One of the quirky things the teachers did on the trip was to tape our doors on random nights. This was so if someone decided to leave their room after bed checks the teachers would know in the morning who was to be in trouble.
On our overnight stay in Heidelberg, our doors were taped. While I was showering the lights went out, so I peeked my head out the door to see what was going on. Unfortunately, I heard a ripping sound as I opened the door. My roommate was not pleased with me. The teachers understood and the power came back on in the middle of the night of course.
While on this wonderful trip I took a step back and realized how huge our world truly is. I live in a little Texas bubble, in a huge country which is part of a huge continent, but which is a small piece of a gigantic world. We all need to take a step back and appreciate what we have and understand people in the world have their own way of doing everything, and we should appreciate our diversity. My eyes were definitely opened much wider than they were before my trip. This world truly is a wonderful place.
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