There are three important things you need to know about me.
One: To say I don’t do well in crowds would be an understatement. I’m extremely claustrophobic - it’s amazing I made it through the flight without going into panic mode.
Two: I don’t take to getting yelled at or getting in trouble very well. It’s not that I have a problem with authority – it’s that I have a huge problem with breaking rules or not following them perfectly. I don’t know why I’m like this. But I panic if I’m in any type of “trouble”.
Three: Kristen Bell said on the Ellen Show, “If I’m not between a three and a seven on the emotional scale, I’m crying.” She pretty much described my exact emotional range as well. I cry when I’m sad, when I’m mad and when I’m happy. If the scale even tips a little, I’m in an emotional ball of tears. It’s pretty embarrassing actually.
On day three of my study abroad adventure, we went to the Vatican. Thankfully our professor pre-bought our tickets and we were able to skip the mile long line (seriously, it wrapped around the entrance and outside the wall heading into the city).
We were there to focus on The School of Athens by Rapheal. We quickly walked through the rooms that led that way, taking pictures as we went. The further we got into the museum, the more people started to magically appear. Before I knew it I was touching shoulders with people I didn’t know, getting lost and grabbing onto classmate’s shirts to keep up with them. When we finally get to The School of Athens I sat down on a bench to collect myself.
Twenty minutes later we were on our way to the Sistine Chapel. I put my fears aside and couldn’t wait to see this famous masterpiece. For some odd reason I didn’t expect the room to be full. This was a crazy assumption. We were packed in there like sardines. Every person was standing and staring at the ceiling (after about five minutes of that I thought my big head was about to fall off). You constantly had to listen to the guards yelling to keep quiet and not take any pictures or video. I completely understood in this moment that the guards weren’t personally yelling at me. However, my crazy mind took it extremely personal. I tried so hard not to have a crazy emotional breakdown. I had to focus on telling myself “You’re not in trouble”. Along with being stuck in a tiny room with only two outs, with way more people than I thought necessary – an authoritative figure was yelling. It was horrifying. I wanted out immediately.
Saint Peter’s Basilica was next. I have absolutely no background in art and couldn’t even tell you half of the work I saw. While my classmates were walking around practically drooling, I kept myself entertained by people watching. I found the Statue of St. Peter and watched people touch his foot for probably half an hour. I met with my group and we talked about what we’d do for lunch. Apparently we were too loud because the next thing I know, a guard was yelling at us at keep quiet. Once again poor ole’ me was on the verge of tears. My emotional scale was maybe at a 2.8. I quickly walked out of the Basilica and waited outside for my group.
When we got back to our hotel I had a crazy emotional breakdown in the middle of our hallway and bawled my eyes out. Embarrassing doesn’t begin to describe it. Along with the horrors of the day, I still hadn’t been able to contact my family to assure them our plane hadn’t crash-landed on the island of LOST. After some good people nicely told me to suck it up and enjoy the fact that I was in ITALY, I calmed down, took a Nyquil and went to bed.
Moral of the story? Don’t expect anything out of your trip to the Vatican. I'm not saying it's not possible to have an amazing experience - but it wasn't anything like I expected or wanted. If you’re terrified of crowds and being yelled at, you may want to think twice about going. And if you’re studying abroad and need to have a good cry – just do it. No one will judge you (to your face at least…)
Travel diary shared by Nichole Manna