Lifestyle, Travel

5 Lessons You’ll Learn In Europe

Girl with map at Brandenburger Tor


I finished my first year of uni and I wasn’t sure about my degree anymore. I did exactly what I was told not to do – I took a gap year and I went to Europe for a six-month jaunt. I bought my plane ticket a month before I left on a trip that taught me some valuable lessons (that includes my dislike for clichés).

I am by no means an expert at travelling or life – however, I learnt certain lessons that helped me understand how I can make university work for me.

1. You’re Stronger Than You Think

I wasn’t planning to travel alone; I decided that before I went to Hungary I would take a pit stop in Vienna to split the trip. I’m an extremely social person; I struggle to be alone at any part of the day. My phone has more traffic than the M5. I was referred to a distant relative that I had never met before, who I found difficult to communicate with, which led me to wander the streets of Vienna on my own. I had to become my own tour guide; I visited Schonbrunn where I was that awkward chick asking other tourists to take photos of me. I was basically a glorified schizophrenic keeping conversations alive with myself. However, when I saw the Hundertwasser architecture, I felt a sense of trust within myself that I could do this alone. His architecture is eclectic and insane and, so was I in that moment, I turned out okay and so will you. That being said, take time to be alone on your trip; you do not need to be on Contiki the whole time – go do something for yourself.

2. Your Relationships Will Become A Soap Opera

Let me make this simple; be aware of who you choose to travel with. It may seem like a great idea at the time where you’re strolling the streets of Paris braiding each other’s hair and feeding each other croissants while gazing at the Eiffel Tower. Imagine spending every waking second with that person of every day in a foreign country – how do you feel now? If you have a boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, domestic relationship, de facto muse, an unnatural love for your animal etc – that relationship will be tested on this trip if they’re waiting for you at home or on the trip with you.

I travelled around Croatia for three weeks with my then boyfriend and for part of the trip I was with his family. Unless you’re planning to marry that person, don’t do it. During the extent of my whole European trip, we broke up about five times.

This is what happened to me:

  • Rumours -> Apology
  • Infidelity -> Apology
  • Wanderlust -> Apology
  • Silent treatment -> Apology
  • Lies -> Apology

I arrived in Croatia and saw his face, which was somewhat underwhelming – I wanted to go back to Skype calling. We then ended up on a beautiful beach surrounded by clear waters, strong cocktails and sexy European men; I turned around – he was there. Was it the European water? Was I happier when he wasn’t around? Was I drunk on independence? Europe is the ultimate test for your relationships.

3. Don’t Be Another Australian In Bali

Immerse yourself in cultures. Enjoy yourself – spend time with people who live in the country, listen to their music, drink their wine, eat their food and most importantly party with them. I spent the majority of my time in Poland but the most memorable experience was a party to celebrate the beginning of summer on a Wednesday night. My cousin invited me to a lot of his events, majority were house parties, art gallery openings and dinners so I didn’t expect this to be any different. It was explained to me as a small party to celebrate the opening of a seasonal bar, the size of a shoebox, in a park. So I grabbed a few bottles of wisniowka (traditional Polish cherry liquor) at a train station and tottered on as a brawl ensued behind me, which I may or may not have started by cutting the line convincing those around me I was a famous Australian actress until I started bellowing my order in Polish.

I learnt very quickly that this wasn’t the niche artsy event that I was expecting, when hauling ourselves towards a death valley and there were hundreds of people following us. Thousands of people in a small park, street fires, fireworks gone wrong, fifty different musicians playing all at once and the best night I had ever had in Poland. Don’t be afraid to do what the locals do.

4. Who Do You Think You Are?

I went to Europe believing I would come out still wanting to teach. I was wrong. I was travelling with three guys: one a close friend and meteorologist, the other who ended up buying a Lebanese bride, and Frank. Interesting point, I travel better with guys than with girls. We all ended up in Prague. We went to the most famous club in Eastern Europe, a five story venue which included a floor dedicated to 70’s disco, an ice bar and a floor dedicated to Tiesto’s roided groupies. Whilst in the infamous ice bar I chanced upon a 13-year-old girl who had broken her ankle, while she was trying to convince me she was of age, she was positively pre-pubescent. Bizarrely I stayed with her for the entire night – my main goal was trying to use my limited Czech to convince the cab driver to take six people to the nearest hospital. This part of the trip taught me to treat myself, my friends and strangers better.

I knew that uni was inevitable and I do genuinely care about people, but from that point onwards I became more interested in human communication or our lack of it.

5. It’ OK to take a Gap Year!

As Billy Joel once said; Vienna waits for you.

Img: World of Wanderlust

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I have an unnatural obsession with mob movies, Gilmore girls, Tinder and frozen yogurt. A world traveller who's main predicament is a fear of flying. >>>>>>>>>>>


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