One of the most important lessons I learned while traveling is that the best way to have great experiences is to just say yes. This works at home as well as abroad.
When my friend decided he wanted an adventure at 11 o’clock pm on a weekday, I jokingly suggested roaming the tunnels under the school. I thought about it for a minute and realized why not? I never would have taken the idea seriously if not for my experiences abroad, but it’s changed my way of thinking. There are so many ideas and opportunities in life that we wave off because it doesn’t occur to us to just do them. They don’t seem like things that we should or could do, but what was stopping me from putting on some sneakers, hunting down a flashlight, and exploring some tunnels? So we went and it was one of the best things I did last semester. Another was agreeing to run through sprinklers at two in the morning with the same friend, who now happens to be my boyfriend.
Just take a chance, say yes to something you normally wouldn’t even consider, and the best things happen to you. Sure, it doesn’t always work out, but that’s okay.
Saying yes to a crazy proposition was how I ended up in Norway last February. It was one of the best trips of my life.
Long story short, a girl named Alex and I had some mutual friends. My mom found out about her, that she was in Edinburgh, went to the same university back home as me, and had also lost her father, and started scheming. I brushed my mom off, didn’t contact Alex, and thought nothing of it.
Alex, on the other hand, emailed me, asked if I wanted to go on a trip. I said sure, that sounds fun, and forgot about it. Then I got an email from her saying she had found cheap tickets to Norway and I thought why the hell not?
So I said okay.
Before I knew it, I was meeting her in Edinburgh to catch a flight. We got along right away and had some crazy adventures. The whole trip was one hilarious episode after another, from the guy who tried to pick us up by saying “watch out ladies, because I’m like a volcano; I could explode at any time” to exploring a nude sculpture park with a 28-year-old Mauritanian man we met in our hostel.
On our last night, we sat in our hostel eating salami and peanut butter because we couldn’t afford real food and a guy came up to us to ask if we wanted to come drink with him and his friends. We shrugged and said sure, and next thing we knew we were being ushered into a room of about ten 22-year-old Irishmen.
There are a lot of funny stories from that night, but the most important part was Dave, the 18-year-old younger brother who had brought us to the room. I was talking to him and stupidly (read: drunkenly) blurted “My dad’s name was Dave.”
Amazingly, Dave, who was so drunk by 8 pm that he didn’t even sound Irish, picked up on the past tense and said “I’m sorry about your father.”
He then proceeded to talk for several minutes about how he believed life was like a sleepover; your parents drop you off and you live and have fun, and you see them again in the morning.
When you give people a chance they will surprise you. There is always more to people than what you see on the surface, and by saying yes and opening yourself up to opportunities you encounter some pretty extraordinary people. Some people you will forget almost immediately, and some will stick with you forever.