I originally planned to take a much different approach with this week’s column. My friends and I had all bought our tickets for the senior trip, a cruise around the Boston Harbor, a couple weeks ago. As I was excitedly getting ready for the cruise, I realized that Boston would be the perfect topic for a column. A major city only an hour and a half drive from Storrs, filled with museums, restaurants, marketplaces, parks and so much more to explore. It is basically the perfect destination for UConn students! I scribbled down some notes about what I would write: a description about what it is like to take a cruise around Boston’s harbor and recommendations to visit a couple places in Boston I particularly enjoy.
However, when traveling, as in life itself, things don’t always go according to plan. As many of you probably heard, one of the four buses going to the senior cruise caught fire. The bus was engulfed in flames and only its skeleton remained once the firefighters put out the blaze. Guess which bus my friends and I were on? While luck wasn’t on our side in terms of picking which bus to ride, we were very lucky that no one was hurt during this terrifying ordeal.
This was probably one of the scariest moments of our lives. While we obviously wish we our lives weren’t put in danger, we now have this insane story to tell and I feel closer to my friends than I did before this catastrophe.
The quote, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” came to mind when my friends and I were sitting at dinner, after being brought back to UConn. We kept saying to each other, “We were on a bus that literally burned to the ground today.” Our senior trip will be one that we will never forget. Would the actual cruise have stood out in our minds 10 years from now? Probably not. But surviving a bus fire together is definitely something I will remember for the rest of my life.
I have learned that it is the weird, unavoidable stuff that stands out in one’s mind. When I was studying abroad, I distinctly remember the first time I took the Tube by myself and successfully made it from one place to the other. I may have looked like a tourist walking around with a map and asking people for directions but I made it to my destination. I made a few wrong turns but I was so excited to be in London, I wasn’t even bothered. I found a delicious bakery, stopped for a snack and kept on going. Looking back, I have no memory of where I was even trying to go but I remember the sense of accomplishment I felt afterwards. It’s the journey that was significant for me and it’s the journey that made me feel proud of myself.
Traveling is the perfect way to teach you how to roll with the punches and how to keep going when things get in your way. Traveling has taught me to be less rigid. Incidents can happen that are totally out of your control. You get lost, trains get delayed, accidents cause traffic, buses catch on fire…you just need to make the most of the situation and appreciate the fact that you are alive and unharmed. Be thankful for your safety and realize it could have been so much worse.
When waiting to get picked up by UConn transportation, I realized that even though we weren’t on the cruise, my friends and I were still spending time together. This lessened the disappointment. After all, wasn’t the purpose of the trip to do just that? I have a picture of all of us in front of the Husky dog statue in our dresses and button-down shirts before we boarded the bus to head to Boston. Even though we weren’t on the boat as fancy cruise-goers, we were the best dressed people to ever spend the afternoon on the side of the Massachusetts Turnpike.