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Getting dropped off in the middle of Europe, being asked to hand over your cash, cards, and personal phone, and then having travel from Berlin to Paris using only Red Bull as currency. To some, myself included, this is vaguely reminiscent of a recent nightmare. To others, the bold among us, the select few that read this description and think, “Wow! What fun!” – this is a voluntary, thrill-inducing choice. Three Fordham go-ers, Claudia Law, Arianna Shaljan, and Alex Rainone are among those rebel rousers, going as far as to enroll in a contest to partake in this adventure. With a mere 60 seconds to convey their up-for-anything attitude via film, the three headed to Times Square, accompanied by yours truly, to create their application video.
In a brief 3 weeks, these three girls, representing Fordham, accumulated the most votes on the East Coast, qualifying them as one of the winning teams from a pool of finalists. This means that they are now in preparation mode for their upcoming trip, awaiting the day that their whole existence will rely upon that ever-dependable can of liquid energy… What is the incentive you ask? According to the website,
“The three members of the winning team will be invited to be Contiki Travel Ambassadors for the entire summer, meaning they will travel across Europe experiencing the best adventures possible”
Ah, more adventure. At least we now know they are certainly not in it for the money– which actually makes this endeavor all the more impressively bold. They are driven solely by the stimulus of exploration, seeking nothing greater than an experience of a lifetime. With every sentence, I become more hyperaware of my hatred for moving in general, and self-loathe over a bag of popcorn.
How in the world did you hear about this?
AL: Our friend who is a student brand manager for Red Bull, Jack Landry, reached out to us about it and we couldn’t resist but apply.
AR: Alex (muh roomie) got super excited and ran out to the living room to tell me about “this crazy competition.” I said “right on, lets do it!” Claudia told Alex about it, and honestly we are three happy peas in this Bronx pod.
What do you anticipate this is going to be like?
AL: If I could answer that, I could probably start sleeping again! No for real – I think it’s going to be a lot of making friends and rejection. Someone won’t give us a free meal? On to the next restaurant! A train conductor won’t let us ride? We’ll ask the next train that comes. It’s all about continually pushing ourselves to talk to strangers and see if they’ll be willing to help. I’m excited to meet some characters along the way whether they help us get to Paris or not!
AR: THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST WEEK OF MY LIFE. We are going to be finding places to sleep, getting free food, and making friends all over Europe, I mean… that’s amazing. Sure maybe we’ll get a little stressed, but we’ll be a-okay.
C: I think this experience is going to go from 0 to 100, real quick. However in the past couple of weeks I’ve really tried not to anticipate anything. I decided to apply for “Can You Make It” because its my senior year. Lately all I’ve been thinking about is the next step and it’ll be nice for once to just let shit happen.
Any apprehensions going in?
AL: If you spin me around in a circle three times, I probably wouldn’t know which was left or right. I have the worst sense of direction and my biggest fear is getting us utterly and completely lost in the middle of Europe. I guess it’ll make for a good story…right?
AR: I’m just going to need to get some sleep – that’s all.
C: Of course I have apprehensions. Mostly, the lack of food part. Actually,100% about the lack of food part. A girl’s gotta eat, am I right?
AL: At first, my mom thought it was awesome and our video “was too cute for words”! But as we start advancing through the rounds, she couldn’t help but be nervous. When I called her to tell her we were selected, she screamed, “THAT’S AMAZING CONGR- where the hell are you going to sleep!? do they give you food!? why are you doing this?!” She’s honestly the reason I have such a bad case of wanderlust so she’s supportive despite her normal mom concerns.
AR: I called my mom when I found out we got it, and she was fast asleep, so she said, “wow, cool. Goodnight.” The next morning she called me back to ask if she was dreaming, when I told her she wasn’t she yelled, “Aw yay adventure!”
C:My parents were really cute throughout this whole process. My mom kept asking me how she could vote on our application video. I had to tell her like 40 times that she couldn’t’ because she doesn’t have a Facebook.
What are you guys allowed to bring on this trip?
AL: Pretty much just ourselves. Oh and a backpack with a tent in case we can’t find a place to sleep. It really is just the essentials. There are some weird exceptions to the simplicity of it all like small motorized and non-motorized vehicles (still trying to find my old razor scooter) and non-technological entertainment like guitars and books. We’ll be given a team smartphone so we can update our team page, social media links and in case of emergencies. Other than that – we’re on our own!
AR: Basically just clothes and our razor scooters. You can count on me for packing some snacks and a plethora of sunglasses.
C: We are allowed to bring one backpack each. Ya’ll already know, I’m packing snacks.
When do you guys leave/ come back?
ALL: We leave April 10th and get back on April 20th (you know….if we survive)
Well, there you have it. 3 girls, wanderlust, a nauseating amount of caffeine, bartering skills, a batch of really really accepting parents, razor scooters, 24 cans of red bull, 6 checkpoints, 7 days. What a time to be alive!
With only five days left until take off, reality is setting in. Aside from the basic task of staying alive (*which should be prioritized), the team at the Rival has requested that Alex, Claw, and Ari keep a notebook to journal their daily adventures, setbacks, and emotions as they journey through Europe. If this request impedes upon/negatively effects the likelihood of survival, we retract the request in advance. Also, if a notebook deems them liable for disqualification, this conversation never happened. But, we’re also kind of greedy and want some official documentation. So, tune in the week of April 20th to see whether or not we get to vicariously experience a week of adventure through the words of three crazy, ambitious, and fearless Fordham seniors.