Gathered in the basement of Wild Boar Coffee House Tuesday evening, a group of about 15 students came to share their exciting, yet scary, stories from their time spent abroad.
Travel Tales, hosted by the Office of International Programs, allowed students who traveled abroad to engage and discuss their experiences.
The following are stories told by two of the attendees:
Sabrina Nesladek, a senior microbiology and biomedical sciences major with a Spanish minor. She studied in Sevilla, Spain:
In Spain, there’s two spring breaks. I didn’t do a whole lot during my first one, so the second one came around and I had to do something. I was abroad, and I had to make it count. My host mother kept telling me to do the Camino De Santiago. It’s a pilgrimage in northern Spain. I found the perfect setup where I was able to do nine days on the Camino De Santiago, and I hadn’t really thought it through a whole lot and had not researched a whole lot about it.
I was so happy, the day was young and I was going to check out the city before I started walking, and each day I had to walk at least 20 miles to get to the next destination, which was essentially a hostel for pilgrims.
I was about two hours in and realized that walking was a lot slower than I thought. I kept passing cities I knew I needed to pass, but I wasn’t in the space I needed to be. It was getting to about 5 p.m. and I still was only half way there. At this point, my backpack had rubbed my hips raw, my feet (had) blisters forming and I (was) miserable sitting on the side of the road.
I found some sort of inner strength, I guess, to keep going. I guess I just didn’t want to sleep on the side of the road. I made it to the city I needed to, and I was trying to find the hostel I needed to stay in. I was walking down the road and this little, old lady pops her head out of her house and she asked me if I was a pilgrim. I said yes. She said, “You stay with me tonight.” She kinda ushered me in and I didn’t know what to think; I was tired and I was hungry. It all ended up working out just fine.
Monika Bochert, a graduate student studying history and German. She studied in Tuebingen, Germany:
It was a Friday night and I arrived at the train station. I had been sleeping on couches for the last three weeks and just wanted to go back to my home city of Tuebingen. I was waiting for the bus and, as I got on to the bus, I realized my bus pass had expired, and the one thing to know about German culture is don’t ride the bus without a bus pass. I thought, “I will be fine.”
My bus pass has never been checked before and I didn’t even have enough money to buy a single ride. I was flat broke. As soon as the doors of the bus shut, there’s this thundering, booming voice of, “Tickets please,” in German, but I understood that much. I thought that maybe if I was really sneaky I could get to the back of the bus and they wouldn’t notice. I picked up my backpack thinking that no one would see. They caught me immediately and this one lady walks over to me. She just looked tough – she looked permanently angry.
She started off in really fast, rough German: “Let me see your ticket.” She already knew what the answer was; I didn’t have one. She wanted to see my ID and I didn’t have one yet. We stopped and stepped off the bus and she continues to write my ticket and I remember I have my passport buried in the bottom of my backpack. So, I dig it out and she’s just waiting there with a ticket already filled out, and I hand my passport to her. She looks at my passport, she looks at my face, looks at my passport again, looks at my face, hands me back my passport and tears up the ticket, and says, “You’re OK this time because my name’s Monika too.”
Collegian International Beat Reporter Megan Fischer can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MegFischer04.