A eurotrip after graduation, “studying” abroad for a semester or backpacking across continents may be what you’re looking for. You’ve grown up in the sheltered Midwest and need to create experiences. You need to become a person who is relevant in today’s global economy. You are worried about jobs, bills, and haven’t put your smartphone down in two years – and you need to slow down and gain perspective. You want to say screw you McDonald’s I’m going to eat Foie Gras in Paris, Pallela in Spain, and Whatevertheyeatinafrica in Morocco.
You’ll plan your trip months in advance so you can be as prepared as possible and make the most out of your time. Hostels, flights, trains, excursions are all booked and with your passport in hand you are ready to jet off (after an emotional goodbye to your friends and family as it will be a full 12 hours before you have wifi and can let them know you landed safely).
and now you’re alone.
The fear kicks in and adrenaline keeps you awake the entire Transatlantic flight. Should you pay the insane price for a cocktail to help quiet your mind? No. Listen to your Eurotrip playlist and write in your new moleskin bought for this trip.
You learn how to be alone. You learn to laugh at yourself as you get miserably caught in the rain running to the station. You learn to wake up to catch those early flights, or you don’t and learn how to be flexible and make friends in airports. You learn to have fun – forgetting to jog every detail into the pages you kept too close days before.
Maybe if you’re lucky you learn about people. And hopefully gain perspective on culture and gratitude for your experiences here and at home. And maybe, just maybe, you are only experiencing and not analyzing the things you should be learning and feeling and understanding.
So you have these personal experience. I could never generalize and have it relate to you because the trips are oh so unique and how it hits us is different for everyone.
But at some point your flight home is a reality and can no longer be put in the back of your mind. And just now you realize what a horrible idea this entire trip has been. Your heart is ripping out of your chest as you board the plane. What are you going back to? The stress, the friends you stopped missing weeks ago, the family you realized you can survive without? Your feet keep moving even though your brain can’t rationalize their movements.
And now you are home. And tomorrow your sister totals your car. Next week, you're back to bickering with your family. A week after that, you find out that the only friend you missed passed week one has got some life changing bad news. And in a month you get a job that is nothing you expected. The days drag so slowly you could nearly die of old age before 5pm. You take the train to work everyday and it’s a challenge to go to the city and not to the airport. Where you could fly away from all of this.
The wretched thing you wish you knew months ago when you booked your flight is that once you realize the gate is unlocked it’s hard to stay inside the yard.