Writer talks taking every opportunity

By Jill Baker, Abroad Writer

There were nine minutes to disembark from the train, find the ticket booth, find the next platform and board the connecting train through Switzerland. There was a 12-second window to decide what was next.

“Wait,” I said. The decision was made; we were staying. We stepped from the train and into a large dome station. Pushed by others rushing to catch their own connections, we snapped back to reality.

In Milan Central Station gathered our thoughts and asked the looming question, “Well, what now?”

My best friend and I had traveled Europe for a week at this point, with no plan and no destination. The only parameters we had were our flights out of Paris, France on Nov. 25.

We started in London, England, made our way to Venice, Italy and had to make it back to Paris. Waking up each morning unsure of where we were to sleep that night was exactly how we wanted it. If we were drawn to a place, we would hop off that train and explore.

Nearing the end of our trip, we had woken up that morning in Venice, both having the romanticized vision of traveling across Italy and France seeing the countryside through the train’s window.

We had found a route from Venice to Milan and Milan to Paris, our final destination. We boarded the first train. The idea to explore Milan came up as we were pulling into the city’s central station; the skyline looked intriguing. It was a city we had both heard stories of. But it was still ten hours from where we had to fly out of two days later.

I self-describe as “option paralysis.” When posed with choices I simply stall, panic over each variable and am paralyzed as how to proceed.

Studying abroad, this is a massive obstacle as each weekend opens the opportunity for adventures; you can go anywhere. But that’s exactly it, how are you ever supposed to decide between all the beautiful places in Europe.

In this moment in Italy I was forced to make a decision, to choose something and stick with it. It ended up being one of my most rewarding decisions.

Milan was one of my favorite cities I visited all semester.

It could’ve gone wrong, but the important part was taking the chance, making the adventurous decision.

I like to have things planned to the minute, but if you’re studying abroad or can budget for a trip, plan one, but not too much. Don’t over schedule so you can jump on an unforeseen opportunity.

If I had plans in Paris I would have had to swallow the urge of hopping off that train in Milan. My biggest adventures over these months have not been written on my itineraries, but the ones spurred on by seeing something and my whole body telling me to go do it.

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