Sometimes when we travel, and just in life in general, things don’t go as planned. The curriculum and life skills with which we provide our students allows them to be more comfortable and competent in handling these often inevitable situations. Community Leader and GO: Rome student Macaully Shumate has a story to share from her trip that depicts just this — and hopefully her happy ending can shine some light on any gone-wrong scenario you may encounter while traveling yourself!

By: Macaully Shumate

When I was asked to tell a story from my trip on the blog, I was both honored and very indecisive about which story to tell. There were so many from my trip, I didn’t know how I could narrow down and pick just one! However, one experience in particular continued to stick out in my head. My name is Macaully Shumate, and I went on the GO: Rome trip.

The second weekend of our trip, a couple of my friends and I planned a weekend trip to Innsbruck, Austria. We decided to utilize the train system for the first time to get the full European traveling experience. Before I knew it, my friends and I were on the train and off to Innsbruck. However, this particular train ride wasn’t direct and required a connection in Bologna in order to get to Innsbruck. Bologna was one of the first train stops along the journey, but not the final stop.  When the train made it to Bologna, my friends and I were pretty spread out. Assuming the train would be stopped for at least few minutes, we slowly gathered our books and laptops, said a friendly goodbye to the new friends we had made, and strolled to the exit doors of the train. As I began to take my first step out of the train, with my friends behind me, the doors shut in my face and shot off to its next destination. WE MISSED OUR STOP.

As rookies of the train system, we started freaking out. We clearly were going to miss our connection in Bologna and didn’t know how in the world we were going to get to Innsbruck. We chased down the conductor, and he helped us come up with a game plan. The only option was to take a train out of Milan, the train’s final stop, at 7am the next morning to Verona then buy another train ticket to Innsbruck. The plan sounded great except for the fact that we didn’t have anywhere to stay, and we wouldn’t be arriving in Milan until about 1am.

Once we arrived in Milan, we decided to go scope the scene to see if we could find any cheap hotels. All the hotels in the area were not exactly cheap. We begged a couple hotels to let us sleep in the lobby but didn’t have much luck. After awhile, we started to get really freaked out wandering the streets of Milan late at night and made our way back to the train station. We knew exactly what was about to happen; we were going to have to sleep in the train station.

We started walking around, trying to find a safe looking place to set up camp. This was no easy task. There are some very interesting people that sleep in train stations to say the least. We found the police office inside the train station and begged them to let us sleep inside. It took a lot of begging, but eventually they let us. As comfortable as concrete floors are, the three of us didn’t manage to get much sleep. The next morning finally came, and we got on our first train to Verona. It was one of the cheaper trains, so the name of each stop was not clearly displayed. You kind of had to know what was coming. Every stop we would jerk awake, unaware that we had even fallen asleep in the first place, turn to someone around us, and ask if we were in Verona. We asked so many times that as people exited the train, they informed us how many more stops we had to go until we made it to our destination. When we arrived in Verona, we bought out second train ticket (which included beds ☺ ), and the rest of the trip was smooth sailing from there.

Although this trip sounds like a bit of a nightmare, it was by far my favorite trip of my entire experience in Europe. This experience taught me SO much, but, most importantly, it taught me the importance of adaptability and a positive attitude. We made a mistake, we missed our train, but there was nothing we could do about it. We simply had to adapt to the situation and maintain a positive attitude to safely make it to our final destination. That is one of my favorite things about traveling. You never know what you are going to encounter, and the things you don’t plan on always make the best memories.

If I had half of Macaully’s positivity, I’d be content. This is something we love about our students; they embody so much positivity in times of quick thinking and adaptation. Just remember this story, and what a helpful travel tip it is to be flexible when making mistakes or experiencing things that are out of our control.

So, where will the train take you this summer on your weekends off with GO: Rome? Or…where do you hope it’ll take you? 🙂

-Anna and the Go Global team