Miles from home: 4847 miles | Fun meter: HIGH
There has not yet been a perfect word to describe the enjoyment, adventure, and learning I have had to do in the past few weeks. Although the start to my travels was as rockier than I would ever have imagined, I would now look at back at it and realize just how short-sighted I was at the time? So what am I talking about here? You see, I didn’t realize until late that traveling across Europe for 12 weeks would require so much preparation; physical, mental, financial, and emotional. I learned earlier on that I would need a visa to travel, and so I began the application as early as I could.
However, as ‘bad luck’ would have it, my visa was delayed until quite literally four days before my departure. Being the kind of person I am, I had already started making plans B and C just in case anything would go wrong. As we neared the departure, I was in a complete state of uncertainty. See, I had applied for a summer internship at of my favorite companies in the world, Patagonia, and I got it. Patagonia required me to start work in the third week of May. This was also the same week I was supposed to begin my pre-departure classes in Atlanta.
On the weekend of the second week of May, two days before I was supposed to start work at Patagonia and the first day of classes, I had to make a quick decision: work or school? But it wasn’t as easy that. You see (pardon me, but I love saying “You see”), I didn’t have my visa on by that weekend, and this meant that if I attended the pre-departure classes, and still not have a visa by May 28 (the actual date of departure), I would have wasted a whole week to end up staying behind. At the same time, I could just go ahead and start work at Patagonia since I already had the position and was 10000% sure that everything was going to work out as expected. But this would mean that I was closing down the school chapter for the summer and focusing solely on my internship and other plans.
BUT HERE’S THE THING, if I dropped out at this stage of the program, I would be charged up to $17,000 since my school had a strict “no cancellation refund” policy. I would be charged this amount because my entire study trip is paid for using scholarships and funds that are all contingent on me being enrolled in classes. So what do I do? Or what did I do? Well, after considering everything and having trusted myself as a ‘great’ decision maker, I decided to stay behind and go to work at Patagonia on Monday morning. And so I did.
That was until early morning on Thursday when I got a notification that my visa was finally approved and was ready for pickup from my UPS store. No, I was not relieved at all. Not even in a single second did I jump around with real excitement that the only thing that was standing between me and my dream summer travel destinations was, well, nothing. But…but…but I had just started work at Patagonia, and they loved me a lot, so did I enjoy the environment more than any other place I have ever worked at. I was terrified of suddenly quitting my job after only four days.
At the same time, I had already missed four days of class and two exams that I was never going to catch up. In the midst of all this dilemma, my school sent me the one and only email no student ever wants to read in their academic career: “Dear Carlos, if you don’t continue the program, you’re going to be dropped from all your classes (12 credits total) which means you’d have failed them all. Additionally, you’ll soon be billed the entire program fee and there is nothing you can do about it. So, the ball is in your court. Let me know by the end of Friday noon. Yours truly, the heartless monster.” Okay, maybe she didn’t say all that, but you get the point. As my friend would say, “Dude, I was screwed.”
Soon after reading this horrifying notification, I let my boss at Patagonia know that I was going to leave for a while, but he’s such super cool dude that he literally asked me to let him know when I return, and we’ll ‘figure something out.” With that out of the way, I was back in class first thing Friday morning and ready to kick off a summer to remember. Of course, I’m not going to bore you with the packing and logistical details but let’s just say…it was quite the experience.
Right now, I’m relaxing in my hotel room in Prague, sipping on Summer Berry (that’s a thing here) and anxiously waiting for morning to come so I can go and explore again. Before I close off, I am supposed to give a lesson of the week, and quite honestly, everything was a huge and valuable lesson to me this past couple of weeks, and I am just so grateful for the experiences. Oh, also I should never make any quick decisions again without looking at the big picture.
Sbohem for now and enjoy these ‘amazing’ shots from Berlin and Leipzig.
Bode Museum – Berlin, Germany.
The squad at Museum Island – Berlin, Germany.
Berliner Philharmonike – Berlin, Germany.
Sanssouci Palace – Potsdam, Germany.
Sanssouci Palace – Potsdam, Germany.
Johann Sebastian Bach’s church – Leipzig, Germany.
The squad before the Berlin symphony – Berlin, Germany.