Sharing Stories

I spent three months in Europe this summer. During the month of May I was on the Grand Tour, a study abroad experience focused on the gardens and art of Europe. During June and July I backpacked around Europe with another UGA student. I think it’s really easy to romanticize travel, and oftentimes we create a narrative that discounts some of the bitter realities and nuances of the experience. When someone returns home after they have been traveling for a while, they bring with them monumental stories of triumph and hardship. These stories are often portrayed on an epic scale, a scale that is so much larger than life it is sometimes hard to reckon with and relate to. I’ve shared a lot of stories since I returned home from Europe, epic and otherwise, but I think that the daily mundane happenings are sometimes the most potent. Sure, I felt alive when I hiked a mountain in Salzburg, but who wouldn’t? I probably felt more alive when a train attendant made me fearfully aware of the 80 euro fine you can receive for resting your feet on the seat. Sure, maybe waking up in an unfamiliar hostel is exciting, but what’s more interesting is the night before, spent in a cramped dorm room with a perpetually occupied WC, and beds full of snorers that make you vividly aware of the supreme transience of sleep (and the murderous intentions of those that cannot find it). These are often the funniest and most insightful memories from the trip. Sometimes these memories are also the most tangible for friends that have not yet been abroad.