Shifting Perspectives

Written by bethanyeverts June 13, 2024

“We’ll take chicken and fries, please!”
Sometimes familiarity and simplicity are needed amidst so much change.
This weekend, I traveled to Lake Como, my dream destination spot in Italy. I had built this moment up in my head for years, envisioning the blue waters, scenic gardens, and lush greenery that was the setting for many iconic pop culture moments.
When we arrived, I was disappointed to see that, while beautiful, it wasn’t quite the picturesque landscape I had imagined. The company I booked the trip through dropped us off at the bottom section of the lake, isolating us from the area I had for so long envisioned. My dreams of beautiful landscapes were replaced by loud boats and busy crowds pushing through to reach their final destinations.
To intensify matters, the night before, I had walked 10 miles around Milan with two restless hours of sleep. The exhaustion and disappointment quickly made it hard to experience Como fully.
My group and I explored what we could, but mostly planted ourselves at a small café to look out on the lakefront. The bus ride back to campus was spent in solemn silence, disappointed by our contradicting expectations. Halfway back to CIMBA, we pulled over in Sirmione, Italy, for a dinner stop.
At this point, it was down pouring, and the lake was almost unviewable in the fog. We trudged along, shivering, until we stumbled upon a small restaurant near the lakefront.
Immediately, we were greeted with kindness and warmth. The wait staff brought out tablecloths for emergency shawls and laughed at our disheveled appearances. They insisted on being a part of the pictures we were taking and bantered with us as they took our orders.
With our drinks, the staff brought out an array of snacks and fruit as a complimentary bonus. They continued to joke and laugh at us “Americans” as we ordered chicken and fries, a familiar comfort dish we had all been craving.
We spent the rest of dinner, enjoying each other’s company, filling the room with laughter, and devouring the warm meal we so desperately needed. The rain continued to downpour, fogging up the glass walls surrounding us and dotting the sidewalks with people hurriedly out running the downpour. The restaurant was our sanctuary for the night, a dry, warm place to connect and relax.
As I soaked in the scene, I realized that as I reminisce on my time in Italy, it won’t be defined by disappointments and inconveniences, but by moments like this.
This seemingly simple dinner was enough to completely turn around the weekend; it was a reminder of the importance of human connections, the difference a little bit of familiarity brings, and the recognition of the privilege I have to travel to Italy with my friends.
This new perspective completely shifted how I viewed the weekend and its initial letdowns. Despite the unexpected obstacles, I formed so many great memories along the way.
The time sitting at the café in Como was an opportunity to recharge and converse with new friends from CIMBA. It was an environment that a busy trip to the top just couldn’t replicate. These connections and these memories far outweighed the negativity I had previously let drag me down.
All in all, we can’t “control the uncontrollable.” Things will happen, and you will inevitably run into roadblocks and disappointments. However, we can always control how we respond and through what lens we see these failures.
Choosing to find the joys in small moments will enrich your time and connections abroad. Ultimately, it won’t just be about the grand views you experience in Italy, but the laughter and connections you form here at CIMBA!