I had heard about the horror stories of pick-pocketing prior to going abroad, but never thought I would have to worry about it. It just so happened that the day before I left for spring break, that someone decided that I was an easy target! I have always been a very cautious, yet trust worthy person and somehow (I still am not completely sure how it happened), someone managed to sneak into my zipped purse. I panicked a few minutes after getting to the restaurant that I was going to, when I realized that my phone was missing.
In that moment, I thought it was the worst thing that could have happened to me, but looking back I am ironically thankful for that experience. I spent a week in Greece without any access to the outside world. I had my camera, friends and views unimaginable around me. I even managed to use public transportation in Athens on my own to get to the airport to fly to Santorini. An older Greek woman tried to get my attention by explaining to a younger girl that I needed to get off and switch trains because the current one was on its last stop for the day. This young girl was also headed to the airport and needed to catch a flight much sooner than mine. As we tried to figure out a way to get her to the airport, a Japanese girl around my age approached us saying she was also en route to the airport. So, here I am in the middle of Greece, without a phone, in a train station, with two girls from different Continents than me. I suggested that the three of us could split a taxi ride if the Greek girl could communicate with the driver and make sure we would get there safely. It was one of the best and unique experiences I had abroad, and I did it all by “looking up” and using my resources.
For the two weeks to follow without my phone, I experienced undoubtedly my favorite day of life thus far. I ate real Greek food, ATV’d around Santorini and watched the most beautiful sunset with one of my best friends. Without having the distraction and desire of tuning in with my Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook friends, I was able to see and appreciate how incredible the beauty around me was. Not only did I experience more, but I learned so much in those two weeks and wouldn’t be the same without it. So, does pickpocketing happen? Yes. Did it make my traveling and communication with others more challenging? 100%. But would I change it if I could? I honestly can say I would never take it back because I grew so much over that period of time without always relying on a GPS, Google, and just focusing on what is in front of me.
So, my biggest advice for someone who is or about to go abroad is NOT to lose your phone. However, I cannot stress enough how much more you will get from this experience if you just look up and experience the world around you.
Julie Lamagna is a Junior majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders, and minoring in International Studies. She studied abroad during the 2016 Spring semester in Rome, Italy. She traveled to seven different countries during her time in Europe and learned more about her Italian Heritage. She loves to explore new places and is already trying to plan another trip!