After spring semester at LCC, Rachel (another study abroad) and I strategically packed our two bags and traveled across Europe, prepared to take all that we had learned through the semester and all that we feared about being alone, along with us. We woke up early on May 2nd feeling nervous and excited and completely out of tears from how much we had cried the last few days after saying goodbye to all of our new friends. We headed to Vilnius by train. By mid-morning we were in Lithuania’s beautiful capital, all of us thinking back to the beginning of the semester, Vilnius being where we started our journey, though at that time the ground was covered in icy snow and that’s all we could tell you, because that’s all we focused on to keep from falling flat on our backs. Vilnius was just the beginning of our Europe adventure. We traveled to Sweden, Hungary, Germany, Ireland, France, and England after that. Each place holds a special place in my heart.
Though I would love to sit here and tell you each detail of my trip that would not be entertaining for you and it would probably cause my fingers to go numb. The whole thing was amazing. I would encourage anyone to take time to travel. It causes you to learn so much about yourself, along with the places you go. When you travel you get the chance to see beauty all over the world; beauty in people, in buildings, in nature. This beauty causes you to worship and be amazed by the creator. This balances the feelings of stress that can come from constantly being in a plane or on a train or in a bus.
I will tell you that my favorite place that we went to was
Budapest, Hungary. It had it all. It had the beautiful buildings and the rolling hills and the city wonderfully surrounding a grand river. It had real Hungarian people that I got to experience living next to and walking the streets with. It had culture and history. It was beautiful. A lot of my heart went to this city and at one point I am bound and determined to return to experience it all again.
I’ve been home for almost a week now. I found it easy to come home to my family and difficult to function in it at times. Part of it has to do with how much happened while I was away; in me and in my family. I have found myself being amazed by things that were routine in my life before I became a world explorer and I found myself ready to live a simpler life in a not so simple society. Everyday will be a challenge to not lose all that I learned and to begin to implement a new life style. I have found myself thankful for each challenge that I face, knowing that the tough times are what helps me grow and learn the most. I am still discovering values that I have learned and ways I have changed over the past few months but I love every minute of discerning the new me.
Home is where the heart is. My heart is with the wonderful people that I have met in these past five months and in the places I have explored. I wouldn’t change one minute of my experience; each place has stolen the pieces of my heart forever. At summer's end I will return to Westmont to again readjust to a new living environment, but again: every challenge spurs growth if you allow yourself to learn from it. It's an important lesson to learn which allows you to leave the pieces of your heart in other places but move on in one place, at the same time...a challenge in itself. May you grow.