if i can do this, i can do anything

some mountain, somewhere across the polska border, czech republic
some mountain, approaching the polska/czech republic border, some time ago

A week from now, I will be making the very long trek from New York to Montana in my beautiful Big Blue tonka truck, which I randomly loaned out to a stranger friend on the East Coast to look after while I was gone. If you don’t know what a stranger friend is, you’re missing out, they are kind of fun.

I am completely overwhelmed and swimming in denial. I can’t speak in complete sentences and have trouble formulating thoughts beyond, “Mmm, good,” or, “I have to pee,” and it’s not because I’m fully experiencing the Czech Republic, self-proclaimed land of the greatest beer in the world. Yeah, no, it’s definitely partially because of that. They do have really good, abnormally strong, pivo.

Market Square, Wrocław, Poland
Market Square, Wrocław, Poland

But it’s been awhile since I’ve made a list. Besides, I am sure you are dying to know all of the life-altering pieces of knowledge I’ve picked up over the past ten months. So.

Useless Knowledge Obtained Abroad 2014:

1. I will never be okay with public selfies. I just can’t. When I watch other people, I am embarrassed. I can’t even do a private selfie without this intense feeling of shame afterward. Seriously, what is that? No one wants to see that. No one. And that goes for all of you. No one.

Janowice Wielkie, Poland
Janowice Wielkie, Poland

2. Despite my natural bitchy exterior layer, I must have an invisible sign that says, why yes, I would love to take your photo, because I am always chosen from the massive sea of tourists to take someone else’s selfie/not a true selfie/but still a selfie when you think about it, or group photo in front of the *insert tourist attraction here.* And I totally don’t mind. I’ve come to expect it. But this one man in Vienna made me take six photos, SIX, in front of the Chistkindlmarkt because of 1. the old man in the background, blocking his figure 2. the tram blocking part of the tree 3. his hair awkwardly flopped in the wind (to be fair, it was pretty awkward looking) 4. something about light 5. blinking or squinting, we couldn’t really decide 6. finally got it. This photo shoot took 13 minutes, waiting for old men, clouds, wind and trams to pass by and eyes to open up. A lot of time to spend photographing a stranger without getting paid. I mean, it’s not like I had anywhere to be, so I just found it entertaining, but if I did, boy oh boy.

Kraków, Poland

3. It’s so much easier to have a dog in the family whilst living in Europe, because they are allowed errywhere. Pubs, restaurants, shops, hospitals, libraries. I am considering moving here just because of that. Dogs are people too, people.

Jelenia Gora, Poland
Jelenia Gora, Poland

4. European phones must not come with a silent or vibrate option. In fact, they have one setting, and it’s Obnoxiously Loud. I have never eaten dinner, ridden on public transport, taken long train rides, or walked down the street to the tune of more dings, dongs, bells, whistles, and ridiculous ring tones, in my entire life. And what is with the GD keyboard clicks!? TURN. IT. OFF. Believe it or not, no one around you wants to hear all of your misspelled words and LOLs. I moved from vibrate to silent years ago, as part of my slow escape from reality.

Budapest, Hungary
Budapest, Hungary

5. Every country I have traveled, from Finland to Bosnia, the UK to Poland, has claimed they drink way more than anyone else. And from my experience, No One is wrong. When it comes to drinking, we’re all winners.

6. Languages are hard.

Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

7. As an American, I’ve heard countless tales of how shitty our food is, how it’s all fried, how unhealthy we are. Cheese. But I have never in my life eaten more deep-fried goods, more delicious sweet treats or more greasy eats than in Europe. And all the Cheese. Which leads me to the obvious conclusion that all of Europe operates on the binge-purge method. There is no other explanation, and even if there were, I would not listen. My mind is made up. (Except for Scotland. They gobble it all up and deal with the consequences. Ahhh…Scotland.)

Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

8. Working for tips has its pros and cons. Pro? Servers get paid a respectable wage no matter how ridiculous and stingy patrons are. Con? In some countries, servers could give two shits if you: a. are served b. actually get anything you ordered c. are happy, sad, confused, doing okay, etc. d. need anything at all, ever, especially if it’s something only they can get for you.

Zagreb, Croatia
Zagreb, Croatia.

9. Trains. Trains. And more Trains. And then some more. All of the trains. All of them. Choo Choooooo.

10. For the love of all things holy, why can’t we just call the city what’s it’s called in the language of the country in which it resides? Do we really have to translate Firenze to Florence? Wien to Vienna? Polska to Poland? I mean, I don’t even understand how those things can be translated. Did we hear Deutschland and just make up a new English word? “Deutschland…ahhh, yes…the German word for Germany.”  It would make reading train schedules A LOT easier.

Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik, Croatia

11. I was a wee bit nervous to travel alone. I actually made a list of things I wanted to do alone before I went on this extended adventure, which makes me laugh now, reading it.

Because if I can do this. I can do anything.

No joke, I feel like I am flying right now. This beer is really good.

Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor, Montenegro

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