Since I left home in August, I have visited eight countries: Spain, England, the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and France. Before I leave, I will have seen two more: Morocco and Ireland. So far, I’ve loved everywhere I’ve been. My favorites are probably Sweden because all of it was impressive and comforting to me, plus it was fall and chilly and had beautiful foliage, Germany because it’s also gorgeous everywhere and it reminds me of my family, and Czech Republic because Prague was so cute and full of readers and nice cafes.
I’ve also come a long way in Spain. I’ve gotten a lot better at communicating with people for two reasons: one, I understand a lot more than I did before, and two, I’ve generally stopped caring as much about being wrong and have been able to just speak a lot more openly with people. I’ve also become pretty familiar with Salamanca and feel at home here, I’ve gotten used to the different times for eating, and I can walk around my apartment in the dark now, which seems like a pretty big milestone.
I’ve become more independent through traveling and have survived several nights sleeping in the airport and multiple solo travel trips, which I actually also really enjoyed. I’ve overcome so many sicknesses and physical and emotional challenges that have made me a stronger, healthier person. I’ve learned to be more comfortable in my own skin, to listen to my inner voice and body, and to confront my feelings in an attempt to be more honest with myself and other people.
This sounds like a lot of brags, and it kind of is, but they’re also lots of things to celebrate. This trip/experience has the potential to break people down, to push them to their absolute limits, but I’ve survived so far. And not only that, but I’ve gotten much stronger. I’ve overcome serious homesickness, illnesses, and all the challenges that come with traveling, and I have not allowed any of it to break my spirit completely. I’ve had a good time, kept a positive attitude, and kept pushing through when things are hard. I’ve even managed to keep writing every day, even when it seems like it doesn’t matter and no one cares. I’m not without flaws by any means, but I’m proud of myself for all of these things, and I believe in celebrating even the smallest accomplishments.
To wrap up my recap of the first two months and celebrate how awesome it’s been, here is a list of my favorite moments so far:
- Potentially the most vivid favorite memory I’ve made was at Oktoberfest, when I stood on a table in a massive room of people all jamming to the same band. They played a song my mom always sang, and I stood on that table singing it with all my heart, in total awe of the huge amount of people all enjoying the same moment and song. I cried afterward because of how special that song is to me because of my mom and because of how beautiful that moment was.
- The cafe we visited in Prague for breakfast called “Cafefin” is my absolute favorite cafe. I still think about the oatmeal I had for breakfast all the time. Coupled with the book-like atmosphere of Prague, it made for one of my favorite trips.
- The concert I went to in Sweden for my birthday is still unreal to me. It couldn’t have been cooler with the already incredible band, mixed with the coolest music and a really comfortable venue. It was like a dream, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else for my birthday. That entire trip was actually perfect. If you haven’t read about it, I would suggest popping over to the Sweden section of the blog because that was truly unforgettable.
- The night my roommate and I went to the river at night and sat and talked for hours. We were both holding in a lot of feelings that we weren’t sure how to cope with given that everything is new and different for us, and we finally got to let it all out and got closer for it knowing we really do have each other on this trip. I’m so thankful for her. Also our “romantic” getaway with the two of us to an apartment in the mountains of France was really great.
- Eating lunch on top of a castle was pretty baller too. That’s just like, a dream come true. I ate lunch on top of a real castle. No big deal.
- Finally, I’ve loved all of the volunteering I’ve done and teaching my host mom’s granddaughter, but my favorite memory of that was the day I let the granddaughter make up games for our lessons and her mom walked in on us playing dress up in her little clothes. It was funny and lighthearted, and I just love that girl so much.
There are so many other memories I cherish dearly, like the time I didn’t know my roommate was home and I thought my bed was being moved by a ghost, or the time I got to meet my roommate’s friend from the states and spend time with the two of them. I’ve seen beautiful and crazy things. I’ve met a version of myself I really love that is more confident and independent and honest. I have so much more to look forward to with the rest of my time here: Heidelberg, Germany next weekend, Morocco the following, Ireland two weeks after that, more volunteering, exploring Salamanca, finding gifts for people I love, and even more that I can’t anticipate. Here’s to an incredible one and a half month to go.