22 days, 6 countries, 13 cities, every means of transportation, maybe 6 hours of sleep in total, and 10 pounds of cheese later, I have finally returned to Brasil after an incredible time in Europe. I’ve seen so much in such a short period of time that I almost feel like I didn’t even go! I didn’t experience cultural shock while in Europe, because in a lot of ways, it reminded me of a mix between the United States and South America.
I have so many things to say, advice to give, pictures to post, that I’ve felt overwhelmed thinking about where to begin. But one major theme has stuck with me throughout my Eurotrip, and that is the idea of expectation versus reality. There is a something called the Confirmation Bias, which essentially suggests that people are biased towards what they already believe. Meaning, if I’ve always heard how over-the-top amazing Europe is, I am going to see it just as that, amazing. Maybe this bias will make me ignore the negative parts of Europe, and only see everything as incredible and jaw dropping. Although my time in Europe was nothing short of amazing, I kept this bias in mind and tried to take Europe in as open minded as possible, making me realize that some things were very below my expectations.
While absolutely stoked to be going to Europe, I did have some expectations that I want to share with you, just out of personal experience. If you should decide to go to Europe, I think these honest tips would be helpful to know so you’re not disappointed.
Expectation – Seeing amazing views and getting incredible pictures / Reality – PEOPLE EVERYWHERE, but still got some good pics / There were some pretty beautiful sunsets, trails, views, but people piling up to get a picture, or being really tall and not moving. You really had to be wake up early in the morning in order to get beautiful pics with no people. Or if you don’t get the right angle or have Photoshop, there will be elbows in your Trevi Fountain shots and tons of heads in your Keukenhof Gardens pics.
Expectation – Frolick around famous monuments and learn about their history / Reality – bumping elbows, sketchy people following you around / If you plan on going to a famous location, plan on bumping into people & waiting in long lines. At the Eiffel Tower, people are harassing you to buy wine & trinkets, and at every famous area in Italy, there are pickpockets waiting to rob you. I knew tourism was annoying, but I really didn’t think I’d be shoulder to shoulder at some places. It ruined the big tourist attractions and made me appreciate all the other incredible hole in the wall places that I discovered as I roamed the streets.
Expectation – Running aimlessly around a new city / Reality – Only doing this during the day. / I mean, I guess this is basic common sense, but you really have to be careful in these foreign countries. I am normally a safety freak when it comes to night time, but I truly felt like I needed to be on watch at all times, especially in some cities. Cat calling and small allies really made me on high alert, so I couldn’t be totally carefree during my travels.
Expectation – Crazy adventure, partying a lot, meeting tons of people / Reality – Learning more about yourself / Because I love being safe and having privacy, I chose to use Airbnb for booking rooms, rather than hostels. My friend and I realized early on that because we booked Airbnb, which was super nice, clean, and safe, we missed out on meeting a bunch of people that we would’ve in a hostel. I also wasn’t a complete crazy partier when I was abroad either. I realized halfway through my trip that I was beginning to see the type of person I wanted to become, and had a major life epiphany while in Europe. I decided to quit drinking for good, focus on positivity, share that energy with those around, be more honest, not feel bad about saying NO, and just try to live my life the best way I possibly can. There wasn’t really a whole lot of craziness in Europe, and I am happy about that. I enjoyed taking pictures, exploring narrow streets, eating amazing food and enjoying/remembering my time.
Expectation – Trying to speak their languages / Reality – People hating tourists and your attempts / I’m usually very modest about my language speaking skills because I know I need to improve immensely, but after being told/starting to believe I am fluent in Portuguese, I was extremely excited to visit Portugal and show off my skills! I couldn’t wait to travel to a country other than Brasil and speak their native tongue. When I arrived, I was quickly reminded that I don’t speak Portuguese well and that in Portugal, they speak with a very thick accent and use a lot of different words. I could literally pick out who was from Brasil based on the fact that I could understand them. I was also surprised to learn that the Portuguese were very impatient with your language skills and preferred if you just spoke English. And in a lot of big cities, locals don’t like tourists coming in and disturbing the peace, which is completely understandable considering the pure congestion that is tourism.
Don’t get me wrong, Europe changed my life. I recommend anyone who hasn’t traveled much to definitely make the trek overseas. But remember that even though it is incredible, see past your biases and try to experience the negatives as well. Only then you will truly see the places you go.
If you have questions about places to go in Europe, I would love to chat! I’ve visited Lisbon Portugal, Porto Portugal, Paris France, Amsterdam Netherlands, Rome Italy, Florence Italy, Verona Italy, Venice Italy, Genoa Italy, Cinque Terre Italy, Barcelona Spain, and Madrid Spain.