My travels so far have been full of many expectations that have not lived up to reality. Examples of moments like this include but are not limited to the following:
Expectation: See a wonderful West End play on a night that you are already in London to save money and travel hassle!
Reality: It takes you about an hour and a half to get all the way over to where the play is showing to buy your tickets because of station closes. The play that you see that night (in my case War Horse) is completely worth it – but then your train home is delayed two hours because of a suicide attempt earlier in the day. Instead of getting home around one A.M., you’ve been in the same train station trying to figure out which trains are actually leaving Paddington, how long they are delayed, and basically what the heck is going on, because no one will tell you anything. Finally, you make it on a train, but this one will only go to the station before yours, and you have to ask someone if the train service will pay for a taxi the rest of the way home since all of your options got cancelled. They do, but you end up getting home at three A.M.
Expectation: Go see Stonehenge, it’s an easy day trip!
Reality: You were up until three the night before because of the London train fiasco and don’t want to leave your bed to get to your ten o’clock train. You do, and the train part is easy (thank God), but when you get to Salisbury, you realize that by the time the bus gets you to Stonehenge you will have less than two hours to see everything before it closes. This is fine, there’s not much to see at Stonehenge, but it would be nice not to have to rush. When you get there you see the trolley that can take you from the main entrance to Stonehenge, but you decide you’re too cool for that and you walk. It can’t be too far! Just kidding, it’s a little over a mile, and you probably should have taken the trolley. Oh well, English countryside is nice! Right?
Expectation: Study abroad with some of your best friends, it will be fun!
Reality: About halfway through the semester (or sooner) you realize you want to kill everyone because you’re with them constantly and always stressed. You love these people, but somehow everything they do gets under your skin.
Expectation: Go to Italy! You know how to travel!
Reality: You’re sick, you just want to sleep, and for some odd reason all of your teachers decided to assign huge assignments due right when you get back. I’m talking two whole books to read, a six page paper to write, and a big Greek test. Oh, and the only bus that will get you to the airport for your 6 A.M flight is the one that leaves at one A.M. No rest for the weary! So Venice goes well and is quite amazing (seriously, I loved it), but getting to Rome… They put a train station outside of Venice and call it Venice?? Why didn’t I think to double check on this?? Well what’s another 55 euros for a new train ticket? As long as all the trains to the station it leaves from aren’t delayed. Oh, wait. So much for a non-stressful trip.
So, there you have it. Travel will never meet your expectations. You can’t expect it to. And I complain about these things, but really, I’m loving Study Abroad, despite the flukes. War Horse was worth all the delays and lack of sleep, Stonehenge was one of the coolest things I’ve seen and an amazing day trip, and I really do love all of the people on Study Abroad. I guess in life to get some lemonade you really do have to squeeze a few lemons. And that’s what God’s teaching me. To give grace, and have patience (a word to the wise, never pray for patience, there’s no lesson God likes better to teach). But really, I have learned a lot, and I’ve experienced more in the span of a few months than most people experience in a lifetime. And I suppose that’s worth all the delays and cancellations in the world.