“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” [Tom Hanks] This past summer, a dream of a lifetime came true for me. I’ve always planned in the future to travel to Europe, but never would I have thought my future plans would happen so soon. When I though about Europe, I wondered would it be like the movies, or was it even real! Being a young African American, you think,” I’ll never get to find out myself, I’ll only read about it in my History books, see it in movies and magazines, and dream.” But now, I can say and pass on that it is possible.
This past summer I took a three week journey to Europe with thirty-one strangers and the leaders of People to People Student Ambassadors. We all started out as fellow ambassador strangers, but by the end of our trek, we were all like family.Our expedition started at the raving Eiffel Tower and ended at the ancient theaters of Greece. Our goals were to show civilization between two countries, and intake the beauty of a different culture. To conquer our goals, we visited an orphange and nunnery, homestayed with an Italian family, visited a multitude of museums and historic sites, and cleaned a local beach in Greece.
With many adventures in so little time, alot of good and bad can happen. As they say, there is always a dilemma in every situation. During our escapade, there were points were we had to walk up inclined walk ways and even one of our sites, Mount Vesuvis. Mount Vesuvis is basically a volcano. So to walk up the highest peak in Italy, was a bit of a challenge for me, but I did make it to the top. When you go on trips, you expect to travel with people you know, but in this case i did not, as mentioned earlier.
The Chattanooga, Tennessee delegation of this trip was small so we added five people from Arkansas to our delegation.T his matter lead to an emotional ending of our trip because we all were so close. I took it the hardest because I had befriended this guy named Reggie, and we might never see each other again. Although we were closest, everyone was still in tears. Another situation that was not a “working” situation, was staying at an unsanitary hotel. Yes, I said it…UNSANITARY! In the middle of the night, we had to be transported to a healthier hotel. They should have been reported to the Better Bureau of whoever, and have all of their stars taken away from them. They had mold behind headboards, in the bathrooms, and even blowing from the air conditioner. Just plain nasty! The funniest bad thing to me was when my suitcase broke. Yeah, doesn’t sound funny but me being the person I am, boy was it funny. I did everything to make it endure til the end.
On a positive note, the food in Europe is AMAZING! I’m a picky eater but I tried almost eveything we ate. In France, we had duck and some other food. They never told us what we ate. Scary, i know right. Then in Italy, it was Pasta day and night. That kind of got tiring after awhile. Finally in Greece, it was like home sweet home. They had the most Americanized type of food. Another thing that was successful was giving me and my fellow ambassadors the opportunity to meet foreign families, and amplify our confidence. While we stayed in Italy, we had to challenge ourselves by repelling off of this skyscraping medevil tower. The whole day I was excited ready to conquer it, but once I was horneced in and hanging over the edge, I was terrified! Although I exceeded, it showed me that my confidence was not at a sufficient level.
Something I was terrified of doing was our home-stay. For three days, I had to live the life of an Italian family. At first, I was afraid to meet my family because we had no clue who they were, and they probably would not be able to understand me. My family treated me like a Princess. As the first night went on, I loosed up because I figured what good will it do to be uptight; I won’t learn anything out of it. During my home-stay, we went swimming, walked this Art museum in a mountain, went to this church party thing, and ate ice cream. I must say Italians love “gelato!” [ice cream] the funniest experience was when we ordered pizza and they asked what kind would I like, and I said pepperoni. Never order a “pepper”oni pizza, because they will give u peppers instead of the meat we call pepperoni.
Going abroad or traveling period, most of the time, you think of it as just a vacation, but this extravagant journey was a life lesson for me. It taught me how to trust more, have more confidence in myself, and follow my dreams no matter what anyone says.It also gave me the idea that if something negative happens, there’s always a positive notion behind it. It also gave me a better outlook on life. I met people I thought I never befriend. Kind of like the TV show, The Real World, but it was more like the Real World in Europe. The friends I made and memories we made shall never be forgotten. When I think about the journey I took, and how everything fell into place, it still feels like a dream. Only difference, it was a dream come true. T
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