There is something about being in a foreign country that brings people together. Over spring break I went to Rome with the GLS 100 class and the experience was better than I ever expected. What I expected was just the opposite.
Every Monday for six weeks I sat in class not knowing anyone. Nobody spoke to anyone else. Everyone just sort of sat there, occupying every other seat, going along with the motions of the class.
This behavior petrified me. Normally I am quick to make friends, but I was intimidated in this class. As the weeks went on the pressure mounted. I was afraid I would be alone for the whole trip and that it wouldn’t even be fun.
While I packed I pictured myself in front of the Colosseum, posing for pictures by myself. That was never how I pictured my trip to Rome. I had dreamed of going ever since I can remember.
Fast forward two days and this is not how it was at all. In just a few short days a group of strangers became a group of friends and all it took was being outside of America.
I was amazed at how quickly everyone bonded. For six weeks we sat together in a room in silence and when we landed in Rome friendships started forming immediately.
Maybe it was because we didn’t know the language but the moment we stepped off the plane everyone became a lot more talkative.
Over the next few days it was the cultural differences that brought us together. Why are the showers in the hotel so small? Why are there no to-go cups at the bar? And for that matter why are cafes called bars? These were things we bonded over because the only people who could understand these questions were each other.
By just the second night of the trip it felt like we had been friends for years. We were the loudest table in the restaurant because we could not stop laughing and enjoying each other’s conversation (wine may have played a part in this, but hey, it’s Italy, there’s gotta be wine with dinner).
For the duration of the trip we shared more adventures than I thought possible in just a week. We tried new food, encountered creepy vendors on the street and walked up more steps than I care to remember.
On the last day I did not want to leave. The whole trip was almost the equivalent of one massive girls night out (there was only one guy) and it was more fun than I ever imagined.
I am happy to say that I went to Rome with 16 strangers and I came home with 16 new friends. Without this trip I probably would have walked by those people countless times without saying a word and now we all have a bond that will remain forever.