Traveling with strangers

Isn’t it funny when things don’t always go as planned? Today, I was supposed to go on a tour of Masada and the Dead Sea with two other MIT students, but as it turns out, I ended up on the one departing from Jerusalem, and they ended up on the one departing from Tel Aviv. Fortunately, everything went smoothly anyway—no pickpockets or luggage mix-ups. In fact, I was actually able to meet up with my two friends during lunch and later at the Dead Sea (pictures below).

This was my first time participating in a tour by myself, and I found it rather interesting to observe the different people in my group (in a non-creepy way). There were six MIT Sloan grad students originally from China, and they spoke to each other almost entirely in Mandarin. When we were getting ready to leave Masada, one of the Korean guys in our group started talking to one of the Sloan students in Mandarin. Apparently, the Korean guy had taken two years of Mandarin when he was in college; I was very impressed with how well he was able to converse with only two years of the language under his belt. Anyway, he was a history student heading to Jordan and Turkey after leaving Jerusalem. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone quite like him.

At the Dead Sea, one of the Sloan students asked if I was an MIT student, probably after seeing my brass rat. I said yes, and then she asked if I was there alone or with a tour group. I wasn’t sure how to answer her question at first, but eventually, I responded with “I’m in your tour group.” She was a little embarrassed at first, but we quickly changed the subject and had a nice little conversation. I guess this was just another example of how we often think that everyone notices everything about us, but in reality, everyone else is too busy worrying about themselves. Moral of the story: don’t sweat the small stuff because other people might not even notice.

When the bus started dropping people off at their hotels, it was sort of sweet how everyone said bye to each other even if they hadn’t previously talked during the tour. Over the course of the day, traveling in the same bus and following the same tour guide had created a sense of camaraderie among us. The bus driver even personally gave me his phone number and said to call if I ever needed a ride around the city. I’ll probably never see the people on my tour again, but I’m glad our paths crossed today.

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