The best ACU stories seem to come from Study Abroad trips. Rogue cows, runaway bicycles and broken limbs, if played correctly, can make you the life of the party for years to come.
Contrary to what some students believe, ACU is still sending a few students who didn’t make the Oxford cut to South America each semester. I’m a witness. I once saw more of Montevideo than I thought humanly possible on what could vie for a Guinness world record as the longest bus ride ever.
Uruguay has a lot to offer: a fascinating history, European-style architecture, great food, good people – and beautiful beaches. On this particular day, however, my roommate and I had a certain beach in mind. Buceo frequently cropped up in conversation with locals as the nicest beach in the city, and with only a few weeks left, we decided to seize what might be our last opportunity to go. Unfortunately, Buceo was not within walking distance like all of our favorite hangouts – it was all the way across town. Undeterred, Kelsey and I hopped on a bus, and away we went.
Eight long, language-barrier-filled hours later, we disembarked outside our house with sore feet and a long story for friends and professors who had begun to wonder if we might be dead. I’ll try to stick to the abridged version this time.
We made it to Buceo without any problems – and also without any sunscreen. After a few minutes, the two whitest girls on the trip were a delightful salmon color and sweltering. So, we shook out our picnic blanket, pulled it over our heads and took a nap in the sand. Eventually, we decided it was probably time to leave, so we walked to the bus stop and waited for the bus that would take us home. Or so we thought.
What happened next was a whirlwind of giant shopping malls, neighborhoods and ice cream stands I’d never seen before. The first bus took us even farther from our house, and after I asked for directions with the vocabulary of the most proficient 4-year-old, we got on a second bus going in the opposite direction of the first bus – and the house. Fortunately, we knew our address, and after a few more bus hops, we made it home giggling and mostly unscathed.
The thing I remember most from that day is not the fear of being lost or embarrassment at my broken Spanish. I remember the man sitting with his two daughters in front of us on the bus, singing The Lion Sleeps Tonight (in English, which was funny). I remember driving past long stretches of coastline in the warm afternoon. I don’t remember eating, but neither of us fainted, so I’m sure we were fine.
I also don’t remember panicking. Through the entire ordeal, we just laughed because we knew we’d eventually figure it out. We were together, we knew God would take care of us and we were having an adventure.
I’ve had a lot of adventures since then, not all as exciting or fun. Some of them were tough, others were scary. But all of them taught me something I might have missed if I had been worrying instead of taking a deep breath and getting on the bus.