Tag Archives: Europe

Traveling With Your Significant Other

Best friend. Boyfriend. Meanie Pants. Feeshy. (Insert profanity here). I called Nick A LOT of names over the past two months but I swear they were all out of love.

We started talking about this adventure almost a year ago, and last week was when it finally came to an end. Over the past 2+ months, I have learned many things. Not only about myself as a person, but myself as a person who is committed to someone else. Many people raised their eyebrows a year ago when we started talking about this so far in advance, “what if you guys don’t last?”; (1) thanks for your support. Yes, that is my sarcasm speaking, and (2) what if we do last? Obviously, we did last despite what some people thought. Not only did we last over this past school year, but also we successfully survived our journey together…although we had some rough patches at times.

Traveling with your best friend is an adventure, not only because you’re hopping from one country to another every other day but also because you learn so much about each other on the way.

What I Learned:

Patience: Yeah, maybe my patience isn’t exactly where it should be (not even close), but it has definitely improved over the past couple months. Before this trip, I had absolutely ZERO patience. I could hold no horses whatsoever. Now, after being forced to hold those horses and take a deep breath (thanks to Nick), I have learned that it’s a lot less stressful when I’m not freaking out about something. Not everything is going to go my way and that’s just something I have to deal with…eventually.

How to plan: I am the definition of a control freak and nothing bothers me more when something doesn’t go my way (see above). This time, there was another person there doing the planning along my side so I had to quickly adjust to working with another person to make sure things ran smoothly. Procrastination often drove our “planning” into the ground, and after being stuck in France for the lack thereof planning, we learned our lesson. It took us a few times to get everything together for each trip but it was well worth the time, effort, and money. I have absolutely no idea how travel agents do this, there are so many minor details that needed to be worked out *sigh*.

How to budget money: Budgeting has not always been my strongest area and I quickly learned that I needed to work on that area unless I wanted to go into debt. I was doing fine: booking flights/hotels/train rides that were all reliable but cheap, and not buying a lot of souvenirs or expensive meals. Since Nick and I aren’t married, we don’t share a bank account so I was doing this all on my own. THEN, about two weeks before our trip ended, I lost my credit card. I had gotten a special Chase account so that I wouldn’t be charged international transaction fees which worked great until I didn’t have that anymore or a debit card to use. This is where Nick came in. He agreed to take care of everything else that had to be taken care of (with me paying him back of course). Unfortunately, since this was no longer my money I was spending, I became obsessed with making sure that we weren’t spending a lot since it wasn’t mine. This was quite the adventure and we were able to work through everything together *high-five*.

How to open up: Nick and I have always been particularly close since we go to school together but we were able to become even closer on this trip (awhhhh). Although we were with other people the first few weeks, I still didn’t have any of my close friends to rant to or take a shopping break with. I felt even worse when we were on our own and all I had was Nick. Don’t get me wrong, he is the best but there comes a time when a girl needs her girlfriends. Of course, I couldn’t keep anything bottled up when something was wrong so Nick learned how to be a “girlfriend”/great listener while I learned that it’s okay to let everything out to him. After all, he is my boyfriend.

How to live: It’s one thing to be on your own and be under the impression that you are truly living but it’s another thing to be with someone else who shows you how to live. I never thought the day would come when I met someone who wanted to push life’s limits just as much as I did. Nick and I went on so many adventures and we did things that I probably wouldn’t have done on my own. He pushed me. I pushed him. In turn, we discovered this amazing force that drove us both into the fast lane. It was truly a great feeling.

So if you are thinking about traveling with your significant other but have doubts, remember this: all of your “kinks” don’t need to be worked out to go somewhere. Traveling can help a relationship grow stronger and it truly shows whether or not that person is in your life to stay or go. Personally, I would love for Nick to stick around, he is the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I thank God for him everyday. Love you, Feeshy.
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Identifying With Culture

Last week not only did we have to attend class but we also had to attend the TAD conference that took place in Luxembourg City (Transatlantic Dialogue). This conference was showcased by Luxembourg University, which is now celebrating their tenth year as a university. The theme of this conference happened to be “A Vision in Global Citizenship” which should have really been renamed to “Lets Shit on Americans Conference”.

It’s not so much that the conference was terrible or directly aimed towards the problems Americans face with applying culture and language into their academics, it just seemed to be a topic that loved to be brought up. I went into this conference having an open mind since I knew absolutely nothing about what we would be doing for three whole days. As I sat and listened to multiple speakers, all of whom were extremely qualified and interesting, I realized that everyone seems to think that Americans do not have a desire to explore other cultures like they do over here. While I realize that most Americans cannot speak 3+ languages, I do not feel as if that should be indicator as to whether or not we want to explore other cultures.

As an American, and I may be speaking for myself, but, I have a strong desire to explore and incorporate other cultures into my everyday life. In a previous post I talked about wanting to broaden my horizons and explore everything our world has to offer. I realize that no everyone has the same mind set as I do but it was extremely difficult to sit and listen to people talk about how Americans cannot come to Europe without traveling in groups—that no one explores other countries on their own like Europeans do. Well, the truth is, Americans have better opportunities to study abroad with their universities and actually earn credit rather than shelling out thousands of dollars to do something on our own. I have been fortunate enough to study on two different continents (other than my own) in the past year and I find it extremely frustrating that people do not think we want to diversify our experiences.

We actually had the opportunity to have a debate with German students (one of which was an American studying at a German university for the past four years). They all had open minds but I still felt inferior towards them just because they could speak in our native tongue (along with a few other languages) and we could only speak English. They made valid points about how Americans do not feel the need to learn other languages since a larger part of other countries also incorporate English as another language. Yes, this is true, we tend to think that everyone should speak our language rather than learning more for ourselves but I wish that would not label us as a country that does not wish to enrich our lives through multiple cultures. 

Culture can be defined in many ways and we made sure to spell out each of the ways as the days went on. Culture is not only defined through the music and arts but it is also defined with the way individuals in each country interact with each other, the “norms” each country has and how we are raised. Culture exists in many forms and to label a specific country as one that prefers not to indulge in other cultures is not fair. In a previous post I talked about how we tend to crave the things we are denied. I also mentioned that I grew up in a place that held no diversity so I crave things like this and I crave other cultures and I want everyone to have these desires (I realize that is a lofty dream).

The world is not only limited to those who have the resources at their hand, it is open to anyone that has the passion and desire to leave no part unturned. Don’t just dream about exploring other places; take initiative and make those dreams come true.

Jess 

Murphy’s Law: Anything That Can Go Wrong WILL Go Wrong

If you would have been able to contact me about an hour ago and asked me if I wanted to come home then my answer would have been yes. I wouldn’t have blinked an eye and would have jumped on whatever you were sending my way to bring me back to America. Now, I have calmed myself down and the tears are no longer streaming down my face in full force. 

Let me start from the beginning. Last week, we were on our study tour in London and Stratford with Liz and then were let free to go travel and do whatever we wanted for the next six days. I would like to consider myself an experienced traveler but these past few days have tested what I thought was experience as well as my patience. Most people who know me know that I have zero patience. When I want something, I want it now and I don’t want to wait; I usually have trouble waiting for my bagel to come out of the toaster. Anyways, we traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland to stay there for a night until we could catch the next flight over to Dublin, Ireland. This was the easy part of our journey. Dublin was beautiful, etc. (I’ll post about that trip later). We were under the impression that we would be able to jump on a ferry down to France and then on a series of trains back to Luxembourg with our Eurail passes. We were wrong. So wrong.

It’s not that there were no trains that take us to Luxembourg, it was just that ALL of these trains were booked. Our group ended up splitting up, and myself and two others took the ferry route. We boarded a ferry that would take 16 hours to get to France and while aboard the ferry is when we discovered all of the trains were booked. I also discovered that sleeping on the floor of a boat for that time period is not enjoyable. Lesson learned. Once we arrived in France, we took a couple smaller trains back and forth but never found anything that would take us to Paris which is where we needed to be. We had no wifi to look up the train times for tomorrow since conveniently today is the only day it was not working at the airport. We even tried to rent a car to drive back to Luxembourg (yes, we were THAT desperate) and unfortunately, you have to be 21 to rent one here in France. Guess what? Nick and I are still 19 and our other friend just turned 20. We begged and pleaded and the frenchmen would not budge on his decision for us to rent a car. After all, it was only a policy rather than a law. Frustration filled my entire body. After we exhausted all of our options for getting back tonight/early tomorrow morning (remember, we actually have to attend class tomorrow) we decided to book a flight into Paris and get a train from there to Luxembourg.

Now, we are in Brest, France in small hotel room that resembles something you would find on a boat, where I then found myself having a breakdown in the even smaller bathroom. Fortunately, we have found wifi and the first person I contacted was my mother. I would like to think I am an independent/strong woman but today is a day where I definitely needed my mom’s lap to lay in and cry. Frustration and anger filled my entire body and I couldn’t help but cry when nothing was going my way (which usually isn’t the case). Thankfully, my mother was able to calm me down and reassure me that everything would be fine, she reminded me to get some food, just relax and say a prayer. Thanks mom, I love you. 

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” -Isaiah 41:40