And that feels good, somehow. Even though it might suck in the moment.
Full disclosure: This article is NOT encouraging you to be an jerk and be disrespectful in other countries (or anywhere, really). This is more like a chronicle of my mistakes for your reading pleasure. And to let you know that it’s OK TO MAKE MISTAKES. Just go, and deal with them as they come.
Okay so, here’s a summary: back in the summer of 2013, I studied abroad for a month in the UK (2 weeks in York, 1 in Edinburgh, and 1 in London), then traveled for a month with 3 of my college roommates/friends on a whirlwind city tour.
Here’s what went down my first time abroad:
- Wore lace up boots to the airport that took forever to take off
- Got a UTI (Ok, so maybe this is TMI but WHY?! It’s just another health problem and it hurts like fucking HELL)
- Almost cried on a 2 hour bus ride because of said UTI and I thought I was going to pee my pants and our professor was a dude, so I was too scared to explain the situation and when I said I had to use the restroom, he wasn’t too worried and said there wasn’t one for another 30 minutes
- I didn’t pee my pants but ran into the museum’s bathroom and got confused by the elevator
- Had to navigate the UK’s healthcare system (which was actually surprisingly easy) and the first round of drugs didn’t work, so I had to go back and get more (those worked)
- Ate too much beans for breakfast too many times (you fill in the rest)
- Stayed out late way too many nights & drank too much (in my defense, I was 20, and so this was my first time in actual bars and I was like I’M SO COOL NOW! But spoiler alert, I wasn’t)
- Took shots on a train ride to Manchester
- Then missed the train back to York and had to stay up until 6AM to catch the next one
- Took too many cringe-y cheesy pictures
- Was told we “weren’t really Californians” because we didn’t surf and didn’t want to smoke any of this random guy’s weed, and then he got mad and yelled at us as we walked away
- Melted in London because there was a heatwave and our hostel room had no AC, one window that opened only a tiny crack, and a tiny fan
- Lost and then found my Passport, credit, and debit card at EDC London (but really did lose my phone and state ID)
- Missed our flight to Barcelona and had to spend the night at the airport sleeping on the lawn, only to be awoken by a storm
- Couldn’t find our hostel in Barcelona and it was HOT AF and we had our heavy backpacks on
- Realized we’d only booked one night at said hostel and were basically screwed since it was high season (we ended up finding more nights at another hostel nearby after lots of anxiety and some tears)
- Almost left our friend behind when our bus driver took off without her on it (she had to ride the next bus alone)
- Took EVEN MORE cheesy photos
- Got in an argument with my friend that basically stemmed from paying extra to get into a club because we’d arrived so late, which led to us standing on the beach fuming at each other
- Was groped multiple times by suspiciously young looking guys
- Yelled at a guy after he slapped my friend’s ass in front of our hostel in Barcelona
- Was super mean to my friend in a moment of hanger in Berlin
- Fell asleep at a fancy club in Berlin
- Met a German guy in Amsterdam and was a jerk and never responded to the email he sent me afterwards (I still feel like a jerk)
- Got hangry in London and my poor friend had to eat the greasiest ball of a burger (it was literally a ball of meat that just leaked grease)
- Missed our flight to Paris because we went to the wrong airport (and we were so proud of ourselves because we’d gotten to the airport the night before! We were so early and on top of it! …But then we weren’t)
- For my 21st birthday, I insisted we go out 3 nights to celebrate
- Night 1: spent in Paris; it was a weeknight so no one was out and our cab driver was really mean
- Night 2: spent in Florence, I drank a liiiiiittle too much and got kicked out of the karaoke bar, then proceeded to get angry at my friends
- Next morning I had to walk from our hostel to the train station (which took about 30 minutes) incredibly hungover – and then the bathroom only had one stall and a very long line
- Night 3: spent in Rome, and after the most terrifying cab ride of our lives (the driver was a speed demon and didn’t seem to obey any traffic rules), we went to a very strange concert
However, I like to think that I’m a much older and wiser and more mature traveler now LOL. But probably not.
I hope you have/had an amazing (and hopefully not as much of a disaster as mine was) time your first time abroad! If you have any good stories, spill – I wanna hear them!