Studying abroad is all about new experiences, big and small. Although the smaller day to day details may be forgotten over the course of time, there are a few memories that I will never forget. These moments were branded on my memory, and every time I think about them I can’t help but smile, or even laugh to myself. It was the little moments during my time abroad in Florence, Italy that made my experience what it was; unique and extraordinary. I wanted to share a few of my small, yet favorite memories during my time abroad! They may seem silly to an outsider, but they will give you some insight into the kind of significant experiences that changed my life, broadened my perspectives, and taught me lessons that I won’t soon be forgetting.
Every Tuesday night at Bebop, an underground night club, you could find my friends and I jamming out to their Beatles cover band. There were two times that I got pulled up on stage to sing with them, and I swear I felt like I was back in the 1960s during Beatlemania. It was a tough reality to face when all of my friends had to consistently remind me, “Leah, you know those aren’t the real Beatles, right?” Sadness.com.
Lesson Learned: Hmmm.. I can’t sing, but I sure can rock out.
I went on a trip to Croatia with a travel company called Bus2Alps during my long Easter weekend. It was sort of a last minute decision, and also a random country to visit. The second day we were there, I was walking down along the bay when all of the sudden I heard “LEAH!!!” I turned around and I see one of my best friends, Kat (who was studying in France at the time), running at me. What are the odds? Seriously, small world.
Lesson Learned: Friends are EVERYWHERE! Literally.
While I was in Turkey for my spring break, we took an ATV ride through the valleys of Cappadocia. At one point, we all got off of our ATV’s to stop and take pictures at “Love Valley.” After taking a few, we started walking back to our ATV’s and I noticed that mine was rolling back down the hill. My first instinct was to run after it as fast as I could. My instincts may have been spot on, but my awkward running posture was not on board with the idea. I tripped over my own feet, did two somersaults down the hill, laid there for a second, and then jumped up to catch my ATV. I was crying from laughing so hard, and the only other two people who saw it were my best friend Kelly (who was also on the ground laughing) and my tour guide Caglar, who could do nothing but shake his head. I didn’t realize until it was too late that my camera had fallen out of my pocket during my clumsy shenanigans… oh well, at least we got a laugh and a memory out of it, money can’t buy those!
Lesson(s) Learned: It’s important to be able to laugh at yourself. It’s also important that you don’t always dwell on materialistic matters, such as a lost camera. Once I stopped concentrating so much on taking pictures, I was able to really take in what was around me and appreciate everything through my own eyes rather than a plastic lens.
I don’t have a picture for this next one… and to be honest, no picture would be appropriate at a Turkish Bath. Our tour guide in Turkey convinced us seven girls that this was something we had to experience, and he was right! It was terrifying and awkward at first, try and imagine Turkish women (who are naked) soaping and scrubbing you (also naked) to the bone. If you can’t imagine it, I really can’t blame you. It was a very interesting and cultural experience for all of us, but we enjoyed it so much that we ended up doing it again before we left! I can honestly say that I’ve never felt cleaner.
Lesson Learned: When introduced to an entirely different culture, it’s not always enough to step out of your comfort zone. I promise you, you’ll get much more out of life if you leap as far as you can instead.
For our last supper, four of my roommates and I walked up hundreds of steps to the top of Piazza Michelangelo (we took a few rest breaks on the way up). We all sat together at the top and had our own little picnic and watched the sunset over the city that had become our home. Anyone can climb to this Piazza and look at the city, but how many get to do it with roommates who quickly became friends then gradually turned into family?
Lesson Learned: All great moments and experiences must come to an end, but friendships have the ability to go on forever.