Throughout the duration of these blogs, I will be addressing some assigned subjects. I can’t imagine a more fitting time to address My Current Attitudes and Beliefs toward Travel.
As a brief introduction, I do not have a surplus of travel experience. I’ve gone on vacations with my family, but we have only traveled by plane for very few of them. Even when we did, I just followed my parents without thinking about anything. I also went to Costa Rica to participate in the Plus 3 Program last summer, which was another case of me following others who were better at air travel. I know what I’m supposed to do, but I’m by no means an expert.
This past weekend, I traveled to Barcelona. The weekend had been planned very far in advance – I had flights booked, a hostel ready, and all of the details planned to meet a friend at the airport. I was scheduled to take off at 7:30 am, so my host family and I figured out the best way to take public transportation to the airport so early in the morning (I would have to leave around 5:00 am). Eventually, I went to bed early to ensure that I was as rested as possible for the fun weekend ahead of me. I feel asleep with ease, confident that everything was ready for me to leave upon awaking the following morning.
Well, everything was ready, except for my alarm clock. I came to this realization when I woke up naturally at 7:15 am, when I should have been boarded on the plane. In probably the most panicked state I’ve ever been in, I threw on clothes, grabbed my suitcase, and ran out the door. I didn’t have time to figure out the public transportation that we had so carefully prepared, so I chased down a taxi instead. I, unsurprisingly, missed my flight. After lots of conversations with different people about my options and stressfully wishing that it was only a nightmare that I would soon wake up from, I had a new flight figured out. Everything was okay.
As you can imagine, I had a wonderful weekend in Barcelona. I knew that I wanted to travel there as soon as I knew I would be living in Madrid for the summer. I have been wanting to travel to Spain for almost as long as I have been taking Spanish classes, due to my love for the language and desire to travel to Europe. The more I learned about the country, the more I wanted to travel here. And now that that dream is a reality, it only made sense for me to experience Barcelona during my time living in Madrid, since they are Spain’s largest and arguably most iconic cities. My weekend of site-seeing certainly did not disappoint.
As our weekend came to a close, it was time to head to the airport. The man who worked at the hostel gave us directions for how to take public transportation there. We anticipated a 30 minute commute. However, we either misunderstood some key details or were given bad information, because this commute actually took two hours. We ran like mad men throughout the airport to check in and go through security (of course we had to go through security twice). We arrived at our boarding gate just as the line was ending. If it had taken us a few extra minutes, I would have missed my flight (again). At this point I had come to the rash decision that flying just wasn’t for me, and that I would never fly again.
Some outcomes from these disasters:
As I sat on the plane on my way to Barcelona, I came to a realization. I had just handled the entire crisis completely in Spanish. I did not know that my language skills were so strong, and I didn’t even realize that I was speaking in Spanish until the adrenaline had completely worn off. This was a huge realization for me and my abilities – I need to have more confidence in myself to be that strong of a speaker all the time.
At lunch on Monday, I was able to tell these stories to some other coworkers. I had told my direct coworkers the story that morning, and they brought it up at lunch. I was able to retell it to many other people who I had never spoken to before. This sounds very normal, but it was big deal for me. Lunch at work has always been the most difficult time for my language abilities. Everyone is extremely warm and welcoming, but the stories they tell are all very fast and consist of many unfamiliar words. It is a lot to process, and I am rarely able to contribute to the conversation. I was beginning to worry that the employees who don’t work directly with me would think that I was mute. I was extremely happy to have a fun story to tell (and to prove to everyone that I can contribute to conversation).
So, what are my current attitudes and beliefs towards travel? Well, I certainly do not agree with the fact that I’m “never traveling again”, even if that’s what I was thinking during some high-stress moments this weekend. I could not have had a more wonderful weekend enjoying the culture, history, and beauty that is in Barcelona. Also, with every disaster came personal growth and a fun story to tell. Traveling is absolutely worth the stress, and all of the new sites are very eye-opening. In my opinion, there is no feeling quite like exploring a new corner of the earth and being reminded of how much there really is in the world. There is so much to see and learn, and how you arrive at these new locations is relatively insignificant.
However… I might avoid traveling by plane when I can 😉
Hasta el siguiente!