Broke nervous student goes to Europe

All Posts, My 20s

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

March is here! Thank goodness, because February was a doozy. Or, as J.R. Stockton put it,

“February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March.”

I have literally no idea who J.R. Stockton is. But he had it right. So, he’s alright by me.

Anyway, it is a particularly exciting time for me because I am going to Europe in 3 sleeps!

The Idea.

This trip has been in the works for a while, but to be perfectly honest I have been really busy and it just sort of…crept up on me.

Last summer Luka (somewhat jokingly) asked me if I wanted to go to Germany with him. I (definitely jokingly) said sure. But then I started to think about it and realized why not? So we started talking hypothetical details. The more we talked, the more things lined up. Here is the highlight reel:

  • His family lives in Germany (i.e., touring with locals)
  • We would stay with his aunt and uncle (i.e., friendly accommodations)
  • His mom and dad would be there (i.e., familiar adults)
  • We could go to his Opa’s birthday party (i.e., too cute to pass up)
  • His whole family speaks English (i.e., I don’t have to learn German)

So this was pretty cool. But I still had two problems: (1) I can’t miss school and (2) I have no stable income.

But then it got better.

Problem #1 – No problem at all. THE TRIP WAS PLANNED DURING MY MARCH BREAK!

Problem #2 – Don’t worry about it. We found round trip tickets for a steal.

So basically, I was going to Germany.

Germany. And Amsterdam. Oh, and Brussels.

As it turns out, all the countries in Europe are pretty close to one another. As it also turns out, the distance from the Amsterdam airport to Hamm, Germany (where we are visiting) is the same distance as it is from the Frankfurt airport to Hamm. So Amsterdam it is. 

We arrive in Amsterdam in the morning and take a train to Hamm in the afternoon. Just enough time to have a cute breakfast, hit up a coffee shop, and tour the freaking Van Gogh Museum!

Obviously going to Amsterdam and Germany is awesome. But, seeing as we have a friend who lives in England, we thought maybe we could take our trip one step further. We decided to be fair and meet halfway. We had never been to Brussels, so why not? Well, actually I had nothing to do with the decision to go to Brussels, so I’m not 100% sure the decision was made. But I also didn’t have a problem with it. We have plans to see some statues of boys and girls peeing (apparently this is a must). Other than that, my only plan is to hold up my promise to a friend to eat Brussels sprouts in Brussels. So day trip to Brussels it is. 

The Anxiety.

Most people who know me know that I am very risk avoidant. I have many friends who would be very excited to be travelling Europe in a few days. And I am excited. But I’m also pretty nervous.

Note: I do not have an anxiety disorder. But like many people, I do experience anxiety from time to time.

When you have anxious tendencies lots of things are scary. For example, I don’t love experiencing new things. I know that sounds just awful…but I thrive in familiarity. I also worry about things like not understanding people, not liking the food, getting sick, getting lost, and packing (again with the packing!) 

At the forefront of my list: I am very nervous about flying. Luckily I have had a lot of people give me super helpful tips about panic attacks, sleeping on flights, calming down, and sleeping pills. Because I knew flying would be an issue for me I was able to have a plan of attack. I’m still a bit nervous for the flights, but I am confident that I have it under control.

One thing I did not anticipate being nervous about is missing out on the trip while I am there. The thing about depression is that it can stop you from feeling pretty much anything. I’ve been having a lot of really good days, and I’m excited about that. But I’ve also unexpectedly had a few bad days lately. Another thing about depression (for me at least) is that when I have one bad day, I stress about having another bad day – which precipitates actually having that bad day. I also know that a few of my triggers are being tired and being stressed. I fully anticipate being both of those things during this trip.

When I am having a depressed day I find it hard to focus, hard to be pleasant, hard to find enjoyment in things, hard to stay in the moment, and hard to engage in conversations. I am also incredibly irritable during these times. Being irritable, inattentive, unpleasant, seemingly disinterested, not present, and unable to converse are definitely not things that make for a good trip. To add to the distress, I worry that I won’t be able to “hide” these feelings and Luka’s family will think I’m not having a good time or that something is wrong with me.

The Plan.

Deep inside I know that I am going to have a great time. I just have to get my mind on board. Luka and I are able to make an adventure out of everything, and he is really good at engaging me when I can’t seem to do it myself. So it’ll be okay.

If I didn’t have depression, it would probably be enough to just say it’ll be okay. But, because I do, I need a tangible plan that I can follow through on. It’s kind of annoying, but it helps so it’s worth it. Because I love writing, I have decided that I will turn each mini part of the trip into a mini adventure to write about. Basically, a storybook of my time abroad. Gabriella’s Adventures in Europe, if you will. This will help me stay in the moment. I have a tendency to rush through life as if every thing I do is something to cross off a list. So, creative journaling will also help me reflect on what is actually happening rather than rushing through it. Last but not least, I am hoping that writing about everything will help me realize that my feelings are just normal feelings…and that everyone gets tired while traveling, gets stressed about trying new food, and is hyper aware that they don’t speak every language in the world.

If you’re curious to see how my trip goes, stay tuned. I may decide to share my adventures on this blog!

Also, have you ever been to Germany, Amsterdam, or Brussels? Have any tips for me? Want to send me good vibes? Comment below 🙂 


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