I scrimped and saved. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, but I knew that I would get there. I signed up to go to Vienna. No particular reason. I knew Vienna was in Europe and I knew that it would be fabulous. We were required to take a class preparing us for our time abroad. Everyone was on their best behavior knowing that we would be spending three months together.
I sat next to a pretty girl. She had flaming red hair and a quiet demeanor. She was one of those people that was gorgeous and had no idea. We didn’t really talk. I found myself drawn to others in the group that were loud; those that voiced opinions about traveling to Spain and France, meeting boys, and making this the time of our lives. That was my plan. Live loud, fast, and exciting.
A month before we were scheduled to leave, our Professor announced our rooming assignments. I dreamed of a city location where I could party into the late hours of the morning without worrying about getting home. Instead I was to live 45 minutes outside the heart of the city. With the red haired girl. We made eye contact across the old square room in the maser building. She was quiet. I was nervous.
We got on the plane to Vienna, all 17 of us, and the red haired girl and I still hadn’t spoken more than two sentences to each other. We didn’t sit next to each other on the plane. When we landed they shuttled us off to a hotel and said. “Do anything but sleep.” Somehow we translated that into, “Sleep as much as you want.” We woke up grumpy and exhausted.
Now it was time to separate from the group, the two of us off with our host mother. Alone together. We arrived at a quaint house in the countryside. Covered in fresh flowers and slugs. She directed us to our separate rooms in the attic. This is what we would call home for the next three months. We settled in still unsure of how to act around each other. We spent our evening unpacking and then we slept.
The next morning we waited for the bus. We spent a lot of time that summer waiting. For the bus. The Tram. The train. For friends. And it was those moments where we got to know each other the best. They weren’t empty. Talking, dreaming, expressing fears, being 100% honest. The red haired girl turned out to be one of the loveliest people I had ever met. She loved her family. She craved adventure. She laughed at my jokes. She was a diehard romantic. She loved fresh underwear. She loved working out.
We spent the summer experiencing Europe like it was meant to be experienced. Living off of nutella and bread. Backpacking through Italy. Sleeping on trains. Forgoing make up. Morning runs through the lush forests. Going to art museums. She was the best friend a girl could ask for. And she still is.
I often think about where I would be if Professor Plummer hadn’t assigned us to be roommates. I literally have no idea who my friends would be. Life is pretty interesting like that.
~ Krystle Perkins, Puyallup, Washington