Traveling with a group is an exhausting process.
Florence is the home of the Renaissance, so it is very art and science heavy. Our group members each had very different affinities for art and science. The spectrum ranged from those who enjoyed walking through a museum and focusing on the exhibits that spoke to them, to others who want to inspect every exhibit. This created conflict on the first day because some members would finish earlier, and would sit for 30-45 minutes waiting for the remaining members to finish. On Friday, some activities were left incomplete which left some members of the group feeling like they missed potential experiences because of a mismanagement of time.
On Saturday, we decided to tackle the problem head on. After some discussion, it was decided that if 75% of the group was finished with an activity it was okay to tell the remaining two that they should try and finish up quickly because there were other things we needed to see.
Overall, this system was fair to everyone involved. Different individuals took longer at art museums and cathedrals, while others spent more time at the science museums and markets. This policy made it easier to approach people and let them know that they should increase their speed a little bit without sounding pushy or rude. No longer did those who knew they were on the slower side feel like they had to rush, nor did those who were on the quicker side feel uncomfortable asking others if the group was willing to move on.
Besides designating different amounts of time towards certain activities, large groups struggle with trying to satisfy the needs of every member of the group. People become hungry, thirsty, and tired at very different intervals. Because it is considered rude to leave one member while they use the restroom, a single individual can determine the direction of the whole group. While In the majority of instances, the group must decide as a majority what activities to do. Those who were in the minority may feel as if their opinion was not respected or may become disappointed because their expectations may not have been met.
In Venice, we were forced to deal with the issue of coordinating a large group. It was our free day, and Dr. P had nothing planned for us. Personally, I am not one for large group activities because they tend to leave me feeling frustrated. Decisions that an individual or a pair can make in an instant take ages because more opinions have to be weighed. Sometimes, I feel like more time is spent deciding what to do, rather than doing. Thankfully, this issue was quickly resolved. Early on, Madelyn and I were talking and became separated from the group. We used this time to explore the city for about 30 minutes until we happened to stumble on the rest of the group. When we rejoined the whole group, I then split off again with Connor to try and find a store where we had seen a leather watch band. After making a massive U-turn, we reached the watch store.
Traveling in a pair was much more enjoyable than in a group. If we wanted to go right, we went right. If we wanted to go left, we went left. If we wanted to enter a shop, we entered a shop. We got to do exactly what we pleased. Eventually this strategy dumped us on an empty dock overlooking the canal. There we sat and admired the beauty and the controlled chaos of the Venetian canals.
Later on that day Connor and I had yet to see the rest of the group, so we ventured to St. Marks Cathedral where we saw the worst amazing mosaics of the entire experience. These mosaics covered the ceilings of massive domes and glistened as if they were tiled earlier that week. In order to see these amazing murals, I was forced to buy a shawl because my shorts were too short. Wanting to make the 1.50 euros go as far as possible, I wore that shawl for the majority of that afternoon.
When we finally reunited with the group, Connor and I were relieved to hear that the rest of the group had an amazing day as well. Neither one of us was a fan of the large group dynamic, but we were worried that being in a large group may have prevented others from having the same experience we had. Thankfully, everyone sounded as if they had a great time. After Venice everyone is feeling rejuvenated and ready to roll on to Rome.