(…or should I say “in the air”?)
Well, the time has finally come. Tomorrow morning we are leaving our Youth Hostel in Geneva, Switzerland at the dreaded hour of 6am to head to the airport. From here we fly to Munich, then to Philadelphia, and finally I will be arriving in Pittsburgh at 6:30pm tomorrow. It looks like my NINE country (Belgium, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and France) tour of the world has come to an end.
The past two weeks in Europe have been… let’s face it, much harder than expected. I was ready for culture shock, but not to such an extreme level. It seemed that all of my friends changed, life became 10 times more expensive, and food became 100 times richer. I had mental break downs on a daily basis, diarrhea at the Pope’s summer palace, and allergy attacks from pollen overload.
Reflecting back on it, I think the roughest part of all was the fact that I changed. The place I once fit in life didn’t seem to exist anymore. In addition to that, it seemed that no one really wanted to hear my Tanzania stories. In reality, touring a medieval German castle wasn’t the best time to explain that all of the ivory being shown was a product of colonizing slave labor in Africa, and maybe speaking Swahili while others were trying to learn German/Italian was a bit confusing too. Somehow, over the past two weeks, I’ve pushed through these struggles, attempted to find my place and tried my damnedest to enjoy Europe.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved getting my science-nerd on in Europe at sites like the Vatican Observatory, Munich’s Paleontology Museum, the Einstein Museum in Bern, and CERN. Instead of just learning the “history of science” I got to take a physical tour of where these people lived; and for me especially, the added “influence of religion” was all the more fascinating. We saw beautiful cathedrals of all shapes and sizes, each of which took my breath away for different reasons.
Today, we went on a tour of the Gruyere Cheese Factory and Castle. I went off on my own for some time, sat in the palace gardens, and just contemplated life… These past three and a half months have been so challenging, yet I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I have grown an astronomical amount as a person, and I view my new found speculation and appreciation for things in this world as a treasure. I may not know where I want to be five years from now, next year, or even this upcoming fall semester, but that’s okay. I am nineteen years old. Theoretically I have a lifetime ahead of me to make decisions, mess up, and start all over on various paths. Instead of making a “new life plan” on a daily basis, I just need to go with the flow and make sure that I am happy. I realize that certain situations call for a serious attitude, but in general, I just want to enjoy life. I have no idea what the future holds, but for me that is all the more reason to strive for everyday happiness and general peace with my life.
In case any one was wondering, after my much anticipated two weeks home this summer, I head up to Camp Lutherlyn. Have I mentioned that this is one of my favorite places in the entire world?! Going off of my “enjoy every moment” theme for life, I will be working as the Crafts Director all summer! Yes getting a research lab position or hospital shadowing experience could be beneficial to my future, but for some reason I cannot allow myself to do that. I want to spend my summer outside in nature, enjoying the beautiful creation God has provided for us, and empowering youth to do the same. Who knows where I will end up next, but in my mind, anything is a possibility.
My view of the Swiss Alps as I contemplated life…