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Traveling Europe at 18

11 Countries in 12 Days

Yes, I know, the video is horrible quality. But cut me some slack, it was filmed on an iPhone and it was my first time making one! I'll start off by telling you what was so out of the ordinary about this trip.

Three years ago my loving, beautiful grandfather passed away. He and my grandmother live in a small European country called Slovenia, so me and my family halted our lives for a few days and hopped on a plane from New Jersey for the funeral.

In the airport terminal, there was a cluster of young, really tall, light-haired boys. A few of them kept looking my way then turning to speak to the others with sly smiles, and 14-year-old me blushed indefinitely. However, I didn't pay them too much notice... not until we got on the plane.

Me and my two younger brothers ALWAYS fight about who has to sit next to a stranger. So much so that we created a points system that determines who has to take the forsaken seat on each plane ride. Well, after much arguing and to my pleasure, my little brother took the middle seat in our cramped, four-seated row. I smiled at him slyly, happy that I had won the argument, until one of the tall, handsome boys ducked his head under the overhead baggage and plopped down in the seat right next to him. The sly smile I had been flashing at my brother was quickly wiped off my face and transferred to the face of the little twerp. Like, COME ON.

The boy and my brother began to play games on the TV-screen in front of them and talk. I listened in on the conversation and butted in a few times, until the conversation between my brother and the boy turned into the boy and me. His name was Jeroen (pronounced Ye-roon) and he was 17 and from Amsterdam. His basketball team was flying home from a tournament they had just won in New York. 

Finally, I convinced my brother to switch seats with me so that we didn't have to talk over his head, and I began to learn more about the mysterious basketball boy from Amsterdam. We talked for hours, comparing our lives and sharing our stories, but mostly me correcting his broken and thick-accented English. Seven hours later, before the flight landed, he gave me his Instagram so that we could stay in contact and we parted ways.

Once back in New Jersey, I spoke to Jeroen every few weeks. We updated each other on our lives and shared new stories. I was ecstatic to have a foreign friend. These conversations went on until the summer before I entered my sophomore year of high school. I met a boy and fell very, very hard. The catch was he didn't like me speaking to other boys, even if they lived half a world away.

Me and this boy dated for two years. I tried to convince him multiple times that Jeroen was just a good friend and that there was nothing to worry about, but ultimately, I was forbidden to speak to my foreign friend. I honestly thought I was going to marry my boyfriend, so it wasn't too much of an issue for me to give up speaking to another boy who I had only met once on a plane.

Well, the controlling nature of my boyfriend only got worse, and two years later we broke up because of it. Although I was completely devastated because of losing the boy I thought was the love of my life, I experienced a newfound freedom that I hadn't had in two years. And what did I do with it? I contacted Jeroen of course!

Jeroen was at a school in boarding school in Pennsylvania playing basketball, so naturally I invited him to New Jersey so that I could take him to spend a day in NYC with me. A few weeks later he hopped on a train, and when I finally saw him across the crowded NYC street, I ran and jumped into his arms. 

We had a great time catching up and exploring the city, and he ended up staying the night in my guest room back home. We had both changed so much in the three years that we spent apart, but there was no awkwardness between me and my old friend from the plane. The next day I ended up having to drive him all the way back to Pennsylvania because of a train arrival time mix up, but I didn't mind at all because it meant I got to spend another few hours with him. The goodbye was sad, because I didn't know when I would see him again, but I knew I would.

Me and my ex had been planning on touring Europe that summer since it was my last summer before I left for college, so obviously that didn't happen. I was eager to follow through with the plans, but all of my friends already had their summers planned out. 

I was about to give up on traveling when I got a FaceTime call from Jeroen. While the ringing of the phone pierced through my room, an idea popped into my head. I worked up some courage, clicked the little green answer button, and I asked the boy I had technically only met twice before if he would go on a two week adventure with me.

The rest is all in the video. :)

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