Cultural Experience | Europe

Travelling Isn’t Always As Perfect As It May Seem

And that’s what makes it so great

For most of my generation- young adventurous students, our primary way of communicating our travels is through sharing photos on various social media platforms. Communicating in this way has one drawback: people see all of the highlights of the trip and none of the low. To assume that travelling goes according to plan 100% of the time is foolish and short-sighted. The truth is that no matter how many picture-perfect vistas are shared to friends and family back home, they will never tell the true story. Things don’t always go according to plan and you shouldn’t want them to. It’s the setbacks and roadblocks that we encounter that make for funny stories and good life lessons. Here is a comprehensive list of everything that went wrong in my 6 months abroad. Despite all of these, my time in Europe was the experience I had always hoped for, and I’d do it all again, roadblocks and all. Please laugh along with me at my trying times:

1. I was robbed on the train– Complements of my super cool parents, I left my time in Ireland with them with a wallet full of euros. Shortly thereafter, I promptly lost all of them. I had travelled from Amsterdam to Berlin, and we were taking a much needed break in a German beer hall. I pulled out my wallet to pay for my pretzel and bratwurst but much to dismay my wallet was empty. Void of all cash. Drier than Arizona in August. Still not clear on what really happened but my best guess is that while I slept on the train to Berlin someone helped themselves to all of the cash in my wallet. My friend slipped the 5 euros I owed for my food to the nice German man while I cried.

2. We got fined on the bus- In order to get to the airport in Prague, we had to take a tram and a bus. Logically, we assumed that we could get our tickets for the tram at the tram stop. Obviously, the Czech government likes to troll people, for when we got to the stop there was nowhere in sight to buy the tickets. Following our line of logic, we supposed that the next reasonable place to be able to buy a ticket was on the tram, from the driver himself. Wrong again. So now we were riding this tram free of charge and very on edge, worried that someone hop on to check tickets. No one did. Success! Except we still had to take a bus, which is where our luck ran out. A rather inconspicuous man got on the bus and started calling for tickets, which we didn’t have. We were fined 800 koruna. We were marched straight to an ATM so that we could pay the scary man.

3. My friend got meningitis- No need to go too far into this one as it is pretty self-explanatory. However, I’ll leave you with two details: 1. She was alright, and 2. I cried. You can read more about that here.

4. My clothes fell overboard- I took a week-long sailing trip along the Croatian coastline and at one point we hit waters so rough that it bucked my favourite dress off of the railing and into the Adriatic, gone forever. Before this incident, I had never seen anyone else wearing this dress. Since then I’ve now seen 2 women wearing it, and they looked dang good in it too. The universe hates me.

5. I smashed my phone screen- After taking the morning to explore the Colosseum and Forum, we returned to our apartment in Rome to take a little break from the crowds and the heat. In the foyer,  I reached up to take off my sunglasses and somehow managed to drop my phone face down in the process. Not being a stranger to dropping my phone, I picked it up naively expecting it to be perfectly alright, as it always is. Not the case. I turned my phone over and was quite surprised to see that the screen was absolutely decimated. My friends graciously took the stairs up to our flat so I could ride the elevator and cry. It miraculously still worked, though the cracks in the screen meant I couldn’t really see what I was typing and consequently I made more than a few weird typos.



So there you have it. I returned home from Europe with a lighter wallet, a broken phone, immunizations against meningitis, down a dress, and on the bad side of the Czech transit authorities. At the time, all of these were huge blows to my attitude and outlook on travelling. However, all it took was some reflection and a little bit of perspective in order for me to realize that I was still having the experience of a lifetime in Europe and that none of these ordeals were insurmountable.

Kearan Meagher

University of Calgary | 9 stories

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