I’ve been putting off writing some kind of wrap up from my trip. I feel like I just came home and that it wouldn’t fully be over until I wrote this post. Part of me is glad it’s over. I had some really difficult times on my travels and vowed I would never do something like this again. Then there is this other part of me that can’t help but think of the incredible people I met and the beautiful places I saw.
Being alone traveling through Europe was hard because of a few things. One was my ankle. Just to update you, I did have surgery on it. I’m doing ok now, currently resting it, but I am finally able to walk again making life a little bit easier. The pain that came from that really impacted how I saw things physically and mentally. Instead of walking my way through European cities all day, every day, I had to take breaks and not walk as far. There were a lot of things I didn’t get to see because of my ankle that I really regret not getting to. It also gave me some bad attitude days that I’m certainly not proud of. I would wake up and immediately feel pain and was just angry about it. I feel like I almost didn’t appreciate some things as much because I was focusing on pain instead of what was right in front of me.
Another thing that made it tough was loneliness. Don’t get me wrong, I met some incredible people, some I don’t remember the names of, and others that I just talked to this morning, but there were days where I didn’t speak to anyone. I would go about the city or town and no one would even look my way. Sometimes the conversations at the hostels would either end at the door or they wouldn’t even begin. It’s one of the most difficult things to be alone like that. You are left thinking about everything from how to say something to your new roommate to the one time you said that not so nice thing to your friend on the playground in 2nd grade. I can honestly say I have reevaluated every part of my life at this point.
One that is a little personal for me was my anxiety. I figured out I had an anxiety problem a few years ago when I would get so worked up, I would cry or get a migraine headache. I started doing exercises to curb those feelings when I started recognizing the feelings. Traveling puts you in some of the most stressful and mentally difficult situations and as much as I tried to prepare myself for that, I still had panic attacks. Those moments of panic can make you feel like you’re dying. At some point, I stopped caring if people saw me having these moments. I would never see these people again (most likely), what did they care if they saw some girl crying in the street? I’ll write more on this later, but it was really a big factor in this trip that I didn’t foresee.
Even though I had those difficulties, there were so many amazing moments that outweighed the bad. I spent the past few weeks going over the trip and even though I thought about the moments that weren’t the best, I love remembering the fun times I had. Like the time I spend the afternoon in Vienna admiring the artwork along the Danube, eating a bratwurst, and forming a new friendship. Or the time I bonded with some Norwegians over hockey, which actually cured some homesickness. Then there was the time I met someone in my hostel in Berlin who lived in Brighton, England who I was able to meet up with when I ended up there six weeks later. I loved exploring Galway with new friends and getting a spur of the moment tattoo to remember this trip by every time I glance at my wrist. The bottom line is that no matter how bad it could seem at the time, there’s a lot of good that comes out of it.
I know I can handle anything now. I’ve survived the most stressful and mentally testing times in different languages at that! I’ve gained a better appreciation for the world we live in and was able to hear from people from other countries about how they felt about things. I loved some places and hated some places, but I appreciated them all and the wild adventure it all was a part of.
I don’t think I’ll ever be done traveling, so this isn’t really an ending, but more of a pause in the story. I’m back working, but always reflecting on the places I’ve been and dreaming about the next destination. I’ve never been afraid of foreign places and even after everything that has happened to me and in these faraway places, I’m still not afraid. There are amazing places and people all over the world just waiting for you to experience it all and there is no need to walk around the world afraid.
This summer was the best summer of my life through all the blood, sweat, and tears and I would never take it back for anything in the world. I have a craving for new places that I cannot seem to satisfy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Here’s to the adventure of a lifetime, that will never truly be over. Until then, I’ll just start planning for the next time I get to find the world in a suitcase.