#TakeoverThursday: Tiffany Kuiper's Story on Travel & Personal Growth
Leading up to Italy, I had many things on my mind. My sister had recently gotten married and four days after her wedding, I was flying overseas for my first international solo trip. Not going to lie, I was really concerned for mum and how she would cope with losing two daughters within a matter of days. The day before leaving Brisbane to fly to Italy was interesting. I was excited yet extremely nervous at the same time, and didn’t sleep very well leading up to my trip, as my mind was running a million miles an hour. I didn’t know how to deal with all these positive and negatives emotions but; I didn’t let them get the better of me. I gained more than just 10CP, I discovered an inner strength and confidence that I didn’t realise.
On the 3rd of January at 11pm, my parents and I arrived at Brisbane airport. Dad wheeled my heavy red suitcase and mum comforted me as we walked to the airport. The airport was deserted and LED lights attempted to fill the space with light but still felt barren and unoccupied.
As the rest of the world was fast asleep, I was beginning to start my adventure.
I successfully checked my bag in and reality hit me that I was leaving very soon and that I forgot Pooh Bear. It broke my heart that I forgotten my international world travelling bear and I felt like such a goose. My family and I didn’t have much to say to each other; even though we tried to fill the awkward silence.
An hour had passed and I thought that it would be best to say my goodbyes. I didn’t want to cry as I didn’t want to make my mother more teary than she already was. I gave my parents one last hug and kiss and slowly descended down the escalator. I tried holding back the tears when waving to my mum but a few got away.
I knew that I couldn’t look like a blubbering mess because I didn’t want to be hassled by airport security. I kid you not, every single blooming time I go to the airport, I ALWAYS get picked on by airport security! Why do you have to pick on me? What did I blooming do? Do I look like one suss kid? I NEED ANSWERS!
P.S. I made it through security and didn’t get hassled! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
It was the wee hours now, and I quickly power walked to the terminal and was eager to board the plane. When I arrived at the gate, it was as if I had stepped into a no-speaking zone, as everyone was quiet and had headphones on. I too joined the anti-social club and played a couple of card games on my phone before eventually boarding the plane.
I went from Brisbane, to Singapore, Dubai, and finally to Rome. Somehow I managed to make a friend on the plane from Brisbane to Dubai. His name was Mark and he was from the UK. At first, our conversation was awkward but we soon found common ground. We kept each other company for hours and looked out for each other whilst at Singapore and Dubai airports. We parted ways at Dubai and was getting ready to go our separate ways. Time flies quickly when you have someone interesting and fun to talk to.
I arrived in Rome late at night and was extremely exhausted from a 17 hour flight. You too would be itching for a good night’s sleep!
The hotel I stayed at (in Rome) didn’t have room service so, most nights I didn’t have dinner because; I didn’t want to be roaming the streets alone at night because I was scared and don’t enjoy eating out by myself.
I learnt in Italy that you’ll never seen someone eating alone because their attitude towards food is different to Australians. I feel that Australians just eat just for the sake of it unlike Italians; they enjoy the company of others as they believe that sharing a meal is an important social event. I hated being alone whilst eating but that soon changed whilst I was in Florence.
I briefly mentioned in my previous blog post that I met a wonderful group of girls I soon became good friends with, and we shared many meals together. It didn’t matter who I shared dinner with, but I learnt the importance of having a meal together. Food is to be enjoyed and it’s better when you have fabulous company.
Over the course of my trip, I asked many strangers for help and if they could take a photo for me. This was incredibly nerve racking because firstly, English isn’t their first language and secondly, I was handing over an extremely expensive camera. Asking for favours or help is incredibly daunting for me, personally. There were times when I didn’t get the help that I needed and I had to be optimistic about the situation.
I made sure to squeeze in as many day trips as I could whilst I was in Italy. Besides the opportunity to see more of this stunning country, day trips were a great opportunity for me to build my confidence and make lifelong friends. Confidence doesn’t come overnight and it’s something that you have to work at. At first, I was very shy on these tours but slowly came out of my shell. And I had to be confident as I had nobody to hide behind. A lot of people of these tours were shocked to hear how young I was and were astonished that I had travelled half way around the world by myself. Travelling by yourself is an accomplishment and you should be incredibly proud of yourself! It takes a lot of guts to do it.
University of California San Diego/ United States of America
This Contract Law program made it so easy to meet like-minded students from all over Australia, and to form life-long friendships in such a short amount of time. Professor Daniel Barnhizer was the best and most enthusiastic lecturer I have had and it definitely shone through that he was an expert in his field. A huge thank you to the American Semester Program and AIM Overseas for such a once in a life time opportunity.