Finishing the Semester

Written by juliabernstein May 7, 2024

Finishing off this semester has been a whirlwind of emotions from stress about final exams to the sadness of leaving my new friends and Europe. This experience through the CIMBA program has been worthwhile and I am really dreading leaving Europe. As the semester ends, here are my top two takeaways from the past few months. One, do not be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, and two, you will learn a lot about your preferred travel style.

Takeaway one: Stepping outside your comfort zone

Through this semester I have loved all the adventures I have had. However, many of the trips I have taken have encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone. I say this as almost everywhere I traveled I had a different issue I wasn’t prepared for and sometimes the way I planned my trip never worked out. You may ask what specific times this semester I had to step outside my comfort zone and of the many times I had two distinctly stand out in my mind.

The first time I stepped out of my comfort zone was when I went to London with another student. This was the first official long travel week in the semester, and I was hesitant to go on this trip as I had no idea if I would like the city or the person I went with and part of me worried about finally traveling without my family. However, I took the risk of going with someone I was not too familiar with, and I ended up doing some things on this trip that were very spontaneous which I was not prepared for. I did enjoy this trip even if some issues arose and nothing was planned in advance and surprisingly this was very out of my comfort zone.

The second time I was very out of my comfort zone this semester was over the past weekend when going to Florence. I went with a few friends and had anticipated everything would go smoothly as by now we had all done quite a bit of travelling, however somehow, we managed to get on the wrong train. How we did this none of us knew but we got off at the next stop when realizing this and had to figure out how to get from our currently unplanned station to the desired station in Florence. I was very challenged to go out of my comfort zone here as I tend to prefer to not talk much to people i don’t know but I had to find enough courage to ask some of the locals what train to get on in order to get back on track. Luckily enough for me this was not the end of the world, and I was only out 30 euros and some time.

Even though these made me uncomfortable and challenged me in different ways, I benefited from the amount of self-confidence and quick-thinking skills I learned in these situations. Even further into other situations I found myself in, I was able to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and I consistently benefited and learned from these situations. From these moments in the semester, I have defiantly seen that getting out of your comfort zone can cause you to grow in a multitude of ways.

Takeaway two: You will learn about your preferred travel style.

This was a takeaway that I somewhat expected to have, however the immense amount of knowledge I now have about my preferred travel style is insane to me. This semester consisted of a lot of trial and error when traveling and one week I could love where I went, what I did, and who I went with which other weeks I could have hated something I never even thought about. This was the beauty of having many choices of friends to travel with as everyone travels differently, and it takes a lot of time to learn what you prefer.

After a short time, I learned I prefer to travel in a budget friendly way. This came from not only my budget but from my desire to see more places over having nicer accommodations. When traveling with some of my peers they preferred to stay at nicer places and preferred to spend more money on food than I did which caused some issues when we were trying to plan trips however, I was glad I stood firm in my choice to save money on the accommodations of my stay when I was able to stay longer than panned in some places. Due to my decision, I was stuck solo traveling for some weeks which was different, but I made the best of it and ended up preferring some of my solo trips more than group trips because I could get my accommodations and the places, I went to visit for prices I preferred.

Even if I missed out on some group adventures, I learned that I prefer to explore cities on my own rather than with tour groups as well. When going with friends I ended up going on tours of the city in specific orders and I quickly learned that I didn’t enjoy that. When I took my first solo trip and just explored the city at my own pace, I ended up enjoying things much more.

Even though I enjoyed all the adventures with my friends I am so glad that I learned what i prefer to do when traveling as I now know for the future and when planning my next trips, I will be able to plan things quicker and will be able to get more enjoyment out of my vacations.

As the semester ends, I will say the mixed feelings about having to head home are getting to me, but I will forever remember this experience and I can’t wait to see where I go next!