Traveling through Europe, for many, is a once in a lifetime opportunity; I may never get the chance to come back to these countries. This is why I think it is so important that I see as much of these places as possible. I think of it like a sponge soaking up water. The more of Europe I get to see, the better. Our SSU program takes us to Spain, Italy, France, Austria, Switzerland, England, Belgium, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Our program gives us a fair glimpse of each of these countries, but there is still a lot more to see. Our non-program days are opportunities to seek out and experience just a little bit more of Europe than what is offered in the program. I wouldn’t call myself very ambitious but, like I said, seeing Europe is a rare opportunity – it is no longer that unknown place across the Atlantic now. I am glad that I have been taking the opportunity to go the extra mile: seeing a world renowned landmark, going to the place where a particular movie was filmed, going to the site of a historical event. I am trying to soak up as much of Europe as I can, in case I don’t end up back here.
I didn’t do anything during our non-program day in Nice, and I regretted it because Nice was such an interesting place. Recuperating is important, and I need it, but the possibility of seeing places I may never get another opportunity to see wins out most of the time. For example, so far I have made extra day-long trips into Barcelona and Florence. I got to see different parts of these cities which I didn’t get to see on program days. While in Rome, I went out of my way in order to see the Colosseum. We pretty much got the full tour of Italy, traveling to Assisi, Rome, Florence, Sienna and Venice. I had the chance to see even more when I heard a few other students were taking their non-program day to go to Pompeii. We got up at 5:30 AM and arrived back at the campsite at 12:30 AM. It was exhausting. In the time that I should have been recuperating, I was making myself even more tired. Still, I got to see Pompeii, which is a rare experience: seeing the world famous volcano, the ruins of the ancient city, and a great view of modern Pompeii. I also got to see a glimpse of Naples. So, in being a little more ambitious on my non-program day, I got to see much more of Italy than I would’ve been able to otherwise. Similarly, last night I took an extra trip into Venice with some classmates. I got to see more of Venice this way, and I got to experience the city at night. We got lost in a remote part of the city, and walked down winding roads, and inter-connected alleyways before stopping for Gelato ice cream.
I don’t know if I will continue to spend my time off in this way for the entirety of the trip, but I have not regretted it so far. At the end of the trip, when I’m reflecting back, I will have even more things to look back on. Going the extra mile seems to be worth being tired (and having to write my blogs at the very last minute).