Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

“We should have counted how many times they asked us to buy selfie sticks.”

This past weekend, Amanda and I traveled to Rome. Since it is a very popular tourist location, local merchants stand along the streets in front of the most popular attractions and advertise their items. These include beautiful jewelry, small trinkets, polymer slime heads that cried when they hit the ground (seriously no idea why anyone would buy one), and of course selfie sticks. Needless to say, we refused their countless offers and proceeded to wander around Rome, gazing at all of the incredibly old and beautiful structures.

Wandering around is a fairly accurate description of how we spent our time in Rome. Keeping with the “let’s-be-spontaneous-and-have-no-expectations” motto, we decided to “get lost” in Rome and see where we ended up.


And it worked out really well. At the beginning of our adventure, we used Amanda’s phone to help us find the Coliseum because that was the only site we absolutely needed to see, but then we took a slight detour on the way because a different street looked cooler than the one we were on. After standing in awe of the size and history of the Coliseum, we decided to meander around and see how many interesting places we could find. Our adventures led us up stairs to views high above Rome and down peaceful streets into beautifully decorated basilicas. We found parks and fancy restaurants, and ended up outside the Pantheon and in the middle of famous Piazzas.

We peaked into the Roman Forum from outside the fence. It really amazes me how they have combined the really, really, old city with a modern one.
We peaked into the Roman Forum from outside the fence. It really amazes me how they have combined the really, really, old city with a modern one.

At one point, we decided we wanted to find the Spanish Steps. We started using Amanda’s phone again, but her GPS was having trouble locating our exact position. We thought we were heading in the right direction, so we decided to briefly stop to buy some of the most amazing dark chocolate gelato I have ever had (it was like eating brownie batter filled with delicious chocolate chunks). Also incredibly messy (well mine was). Anyway, we soon realized we weren’t in the right place as we crossed the river and saw Vatican City to our left. A somewhat unexpected, but still very pleasant surprise, we paused our hunt for the Spanish Steps to marvel at the Vatican.

We found the Tiber River!
We found the Tiber River on accident…

Rome and Ciampino (the small town outside of Rome where our hostel was) are very different from Munich. Not only is Italian a very different language from German, but the architecture (different materials for the roofs and lots of small gardens), the climate (I had no idea there were palm trees in Rome), the meals (obviously Italian and German food are quite different, but Italians also eat later and have longer, more elaborate meals), the street signs, and even the public transportation were all different from what I have become accustomed to experiencing. When we arrived back in Munich, I realized that it felt familiar and comfortable. A rather nice Gefühl (feeling).

Because when in Rome...
Because when in Rome…

Studying abroad in Munich has pushed me beyond my comfort zone. Giving a presentation about refugees in Europe, discussing psychological and cultural theories, and learning about the Europe Union, all auf Deutsch, are not exactly easy tasks, but they are possible. And each day it becomes a little easier and more comfortable. I’m fully aware that I have so much more to learn (about the German language, culture, and just life in general), but I’m also learning to accept where I am today.

Today means many unanswered questions and countless mistakes, but also new revelations and new experiences. For example, Amanda recently informed me that the word for light bulb in German is Glühbirne, which literally means, “glowing pear.” (Because, you know, an incandescent light bulb has the shape of a pear and it glows). German is full of these word pictures, and that’s part of the reason why I love the language so much. And there’s your fun fact of the day.

Looking out over the city from the park we stumbled upon.
Looking out over the city from the park we stumbled upon.

Anyway, our adventure to Rome reminded me that it’s okay not to have every single detail of my life planned out, because something will happen, and it has a good chance of being pretty cool. And even if it were all planned, it probably won’t happen that exact way. I still could very well end up at the Vatican when I’m aiming for the Spanish Steps. Unexpected, but still wonderful nonetheless. As one of my housemates reminded me this week, we have our whole lives to have many different adventures. Just because we take a detour now, doesn’t mean we will never hit our destination.

I got lost, but look what I found.” –Irving Berlin


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