Lions, Tigers, and Bears…Oh my!

“If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness, and fears.” –Glenn Clark

Although it’s no dark forest on the way to Oz, any trip abroad (whether with TFT or not) can come with many fears and uncertainties. A fear of the unexpected and the unknown, a new place with new people, and a life so different from the one we are accustomed to. Often when going abroad, we are taking a risk or following a dream. There is so much anticipation and excitement, but always a slight hesitation in the back of our minds. Traveling is in itself one of the greatest adventures in life. It takes courage, audacity, and (above all) an open mind to jet off to a foreign country and leave your fears behind.

FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN

I know the fear of going abroad pretty well, seeing as I went through this most recently not even a month ago. For whatever reason, my biggest fear as I prepared to study in Rome for the semester was that I wouldn’t make a single friend. I came to Rome essentially alone – with none of my friends and only a few people I had casually met before. I did it on purpose, as I know how rewarding it is to make new friends from different places and backgrounds and I wanted to take a so-called “leap of faith.” I also boldly chose the “random roommate” option, instilling even more fear in me that I would be sharing an apartment with a bunch of  lying, stealing, evil girls.

I feared that this experience I have been looking forward to for almost my whole life would be ruined because I had to sit at a table alone every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As if I wasn’t scared enough, my parents (really, my Mom) had their own fears to add. My mom worried about everything from how I was going to fit everything in my suitcase and if we had bought enough travel sized items to the big things like my safety (who was I going to walk home with after my night class??). There are so many legitimate concerns that parents have as their child embarks on an adventure. The time difference and distance between us as I travel all over Europe is hard for my parents and I know they are constantly worrying about my well being, rightfully so. Just as the traveler must be brave, the parents must have a different level of courage altogether to let their child follow their dreams and trust that they are in good hands.

OVERCOMING FEARS

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new TFT friends + eiffel tower selfie = pure happiness

Imagine my relief when I landed in Rome and started meeting some of the greatest people I have ever met. From the airport, to the shuttle ride, to the final destination of my apartment, each person was more excited and welcoming than the next. We exchanged numbers, went out for dinners, met up for gelato and soon so many amazing new friendships were made. Looking back, as my roommates (and new best friends) wait eagerly for me to finish this blog post so we can go to dinner, I realize that I had no reason to fear at all because everyone was in the same boat. We are all embarking on this new and unknown journey together. As for my mom, she still WhatsApp’s me every minute of every day, but I think it is only natural for a parent to always been worrying a little as they cannot be physically present to see their child flourishing when they are so far away.

HELPFUL ADVICE

Travel For Teens’ Best Tips for Stress-Free Travel:

  • Parents: trust us. Your child is in good hands with TFT, we are experts at what we do.
  • Travelers should go in with an open mind and heart.
  • Parents, give your child space and don’t be discouraged if they aren’t constantly communicating – that probably means they’re having a great time!
  • Travelers: the most surprising people could end up being your best friend. Take the time to introduce yourself to everyone on the first day.DSC_1639
  • Parents should give their children guidance about safety when traveling, but not overwhelm or scare them with overdramatic warnings.
  • Travelers: know that your Trip Directors are always available to help you and keep everything in confidence, make sure to voice any concerns you have as soon as they arise.
  • Parents: sit back, relax, and be happy (…jealous) for your child and all the fun they are having.
  • Travelers: go along for the ride and have fun! There aren’t too many times in your life when you get to just explore the world for fun.
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