So this is an entry from my blog from November, but is completely relevant to anytime, especially since it is still early in the study abroad semester:
Traveling is a drug. If smoking weed is a gateway drug, then so is that first long distance trip. I am not talking about that week you drove to Disneyland with your parents, or that 12-day Caribbean cruise, or that 5-star resort you stayed at off the coast of South America. I am talking about pure, naked traveling. I’m talking about that moment where a 12-hour flight, 20-hour train, or 12 kilometer hike is nothing in terms of the exotic unknown awaiting you at your final destination. For most of us it comes in the form of a cross-country road trip, a summer backpacking around Europe, or more commonly, studying abroad. I would more than likely attribute my desire to travel to my exploration of Brazil. Though my friend’s dad guided it, it was my first soiree into a land unlike one I had ever been. This just confirmed my desire to study abroad. If Brazil became my gateway drug, studying abroad in Florence, Italy formed my addiction. As I begin compiling my thoughts of my gap year, I am sitting on an airplane from Istanbul to Milan. In the last twenty-four days I have spent 8 hours each way in a car to Interlaken, Switzerland, only to wake up the following morning to a twenty-four hour bus/ferry trip to reach Corfu, Greece. The week ended with an 11 hour bus to Athens, followed by another twenty-plus hour ferry back to Italy. After stretching my legs for three hours back in Italy, I repeated this exact same trip, ending in Rome one week later. A night out in Rome saw me waking up three hours later en route to Rome Fuimocino Airport for a flight to Istanbul for a “vacation” from work. Three days later, here I am am, in the air watching one of the most beautiful occurrences of our existence., the sunset setting at 30,000 feet above sea-level. It’s moments like these that those of us who choose to take risks and just go realize how lucky we have it. As I watch the perfect color spectrum dance above some foreign (hopefully soon-to-be not too foreign to me) ex-Yugoslavian nation. I don’t even care that I have to sit in the train station of my lest coveted Italian city, Milan, for four hours due to my flight getting in after the last train back to Florence for the night. Not once does it strike me as an inconvenience I won’t be in Florence for another 12 hours. Once you start traveling, time in transit is noise in the background. Two Americans backpacking the world who I met while in Istanbul considered a train to Tehran, Iran that was only 33 Euro. Despite the close proximity of Istanbul to Tehran (similar distance of two major U.S. cities), the trip was over a day and a half. It was not the time that bothered them, or even Iran’s hostility towards American’s that stopped them. The only thing that stopped them was the possibility of not being allowed in or U.S. customs giving them problems for having an Iran stamp in their passport. A 36 hour trip is nothing. Just give me my thoughts, my memories, and some scenery. Or for my wait in Milan train station, my thoughts and my memories will prove to be just fine.