Stranded Abroad: Fulbrighters Share Their “Lost” Stories

Even the most experienced travelers among us sometimes get “lost”. Whether missing a connection or getting off on the wrong stop, these serendipitous moments often leave us with a cherished memory or lesson. Here are a few stories. Have your own “lost” story to share? Email us at

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The entryway of Marianna’s “tiny” studio, with beautiful tall ceilings, doors and windows, and old (easy to break into) hardware.

While living in Vienna after my [grant], my flat was broken into. I had to call a friend to even know the right number to call [for help] and the exact phrasing for what had happened. Building a community to rely upon and knowing the resources for emergencies when abroad was a big lesson!

-Marianna de Fazio, 2002-2004, Foreign Language Teaching Assistant to Austria (Wels, Upper Austria)

One time, back when I couldn’t speak or read Ukrainian very much at all (I had been here for only one month), I walked along the side of the highway, [in the] POURING rain, [trying] to find a bus station. It was in the middle of the interstate outside of my capital city. When I finally got there, I waited as other buses came and went, wondering where mine was. After about 40 minutes and wondering if the bus was cancelled, I noticed a grey bus had just started its engine on the other side of the station. I ran over and was told it was my bus, so I got on and we drove for about five hours. Then, we stopped in the middle of the night and I was told that I had to switch buses to get to my next destination. So, once again, we stopped on the side of the highway, and I couldn’t tell which van I was supposed to get into; luckily the bus driver pointed at [the right] one and I hopped in.

[After] another six hours, I finally arrived at my destination. [I had been] totally confused and scared that I would be left quite literally on the side of the road.

Colleen Prince, 2019-2020 ETA to Ukraine

FLTA Pooja Ranade
hiking around
Lake View Drive
(Road to Nowhere, near
Bryson City, North Carolina)

During the Fall Break, [some friends and I] went to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On the second day, we were hiking around the Lake View Drive (Road to Nowhere, near Bryson City, North Carolina), when we came to the edge of a tunnel. Engrossed by the wall graffiti, I didn’t realize my friends had gone ahead. Unable to spot their outlines across the tunnel, I had to walk in there alone. As the fear of being lost and claustrophobia took hold; a surprising surge of adrenaline made me sprint across the tunnel, relieved to find my friends waiting for me there.

I realized those ten minutes were scary, but liberating, at the same time. They changed me- knowing that there was always a way out!

For the rest of my Fulbright year, I opened myself up to adventures, from learning to ice skate in the Millennium Park, to walking alone on the Brooklyn Bridge. Getting momentarily lost that day taught me it’s alright to be alone and at sea sometimes, that the Road to Nowhere can be special and if you walk towards the light, the end of the tunnel is always near. 

Pooja Ranade, 2018-2019 Foreign Language Teaching Assistant to the U.S.A, University of Notre Dame (Indiana)

One thought on “Stranded Abroad: Fulbrighters Share Their “Lost” Stories

  1. Pooja Ranade

    The picture on the main page, leading up to the tunnel is from the Smokies, that was where the Road to Nowhere went. I clicked it before some minutes before losing the track of my friends (seen in that pic).
    Anyone hiking near Bryson, should definitely visit that area, to check out the awesome graffiti, or to get an eerie but exciting experience in the tunnel!

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