My Biggest Challenge Abroad

Study abroad is not all sunshine and rainbows. Although I have had the most incredible experience, there have definitely been some tough times and problems I’ve had to overcome. I would say the greatest challenge that I faced was during my spring break trip. I arrived in Scotland on Monday morning and was supposed to be there until Thursday before hoping on a flight to Copenhagen, Denmark. Scotland was beautiful – I even texted my mom telling her how I never wanted to leave. Be careful what you wish for…

constantinoj62On Wednesday, a snow storm hit the United Kingdom. This never happens. Because this never happens, Scotland had no idea how to deal with the snow. They didn’t plow the roads. The trains shut down. All flights were canceled. Restaurants were closed. All of the Universities canceled classes. Museums and monuments weren’t open. Apparently this was the worst snow they had seen in almost 10 years. They called the storm the “Beast of the East”. People were skiing in the streets (I’m not even joking).

constantinoj61Our flight Thursday was canceled. At this point, we were just trying to get a flight back to Italy. People were telling us we weren’t going to get home until NEXT Wednesday, and we had class on Monday, plus we couldn’t afford to spend an entire week in a hostel. We found a bus to London on Friday night and a flight to Florence from London on Saturday morning. So after waiting around all day Friday, the bus was canceled, which meant we wouldn’t make our flight (thank goodness we purchased insurance). Again, still no trains running. The airport did reopen, but because that was the only way out of Scotland, flights were over $500, which was not an option.

constantinoj60So Saturday morning, we woke up early and went to the bus station. We were told the first bus out was not until Sunday night. Then we went to the train station, and just when we were about to lose all hope, we overheard talk of a train to London. We bought tickets right away and hopped on. This was the first train out of Scotland since Wednesday. Long story short, we got to London late Saturday night, slept in the airport (wouldn’t recommend), and flew from London to Italy early Sunday morning.

constantinoj64I learned through this that staying positive is key! Embrace the adventure! It’s all a part of your journey. Looking back at it, I’m so happy that I went through this. I learned how to get myself out of an unfortunate and challenging situation without the help of my parents. More importantly, I learned that everything will always work out and to just keep a good attitude. We could have sulked during our time stranded in Scotland, but instead we found a movie theater open and treated ourselves to a fun sushi dinner! It’s all about making the best of each situation! I have gained the confidence to face any problem that is thrown my way when I arrive back to the States.