Well GTL, this is it. This is my last post. Amidst the impending chaos of final exams and the packing and cleaning of dorm rooms, I think it hasn’t quite sunk in yet that this is the last week we have as a group in Metz. Reflecting on my semester, it seems like only a week ago that a very jet-lagged and food-poisoned girl walked into orientation and met her professors for the first time. Now as an engineer, it is my job to provide you with the hard data results of travels.
Weekends Traveled: 15
Countries Visited: 9
Cities Visited: 20
Museums Visited: 18
Classes Taken: 4
Travel Mishaps: 8
Now, before you go making graphs, fellow engineers, I would like to share that a GTL experience cannot possibly be measured with just numbers. Not in the above statistics: The amazing lifelong friendships, the feeling of being alone in a place with a language and culture far different from your own, identifying with a city where you don’t even speak the language, and learning more about the history of the world than you have in your whole life prior to coming. This feeling of novelty, of being out of my comfort zone, and this feeling of wonder when I learn new things about the world I didn’t know before will be hard to hold onto when I go back to the US.
Now that I am done uncontrollably sobbing about going home, here is a detailed account of some of my favorite memories every weekend. Planning a trip to one of these places? Check out my favorite things!
In Heidelberg, the first city I visited, my favorite memory was standing in the Heidelberg Castle grounds, looking at the city below. I will never forget the look on my friend’s face as he looked out over the valley. It was his first time in Europe.
In Paris, I loved the Hall of Impressionists in the Musee D’Orsay. I remember the light feeling I had looking at the Degas paintings, inspired to dance and do ballet again. This is when I truly made a new friend, my fellow blogger Sam.
In Salzburg, I loved talking to the Australian guy in our hostel. He came with our group to get dinner and we learned so much about his culture, and he about ours.
In Prague, I loved going to the communist museum. Reading about the communist occupation of the Czech Republic from the perspective of someone who lived through it was truly eye-opening. It proved to me that we can’t be complacent in the world, because terrible things were happening in our parent’s lifetimes.
In Garmisch Partenkirchen, I skied with an infinite view of the top of the world. It reminded me how small I was, and how lucky I was to experience such beautiful nature. I also got to know a really great group of people, and experience their wacky skiing mishaps with them. It really brought us together.
In Venice I loved going to the Doge’s palace. I learned about the immense wealth and power the city state had, and how much that sea-based land could be worth.
In Rome, I loved the Roman forum, standing in the footsteps of the greatest ancient civilization and realizing that our world has come a long way since Roman times. The ruins reminded me that nothing is forever.
In Florence, I learned that art is captivating, and the more life-like the painting or sculpture the more talented the artist. I also became friends with two amazing people here. (What up Bryston and Peugh!)
In Cinque Terre, I loved hiking to each of the villages. Each were unique in their own right. I felt strong and happy.
In Amsterdam, I thought the Van Gogh museum was beautiful. It reminded me that things don’t have to be exact to be beautiful, and don’t have to be completely real to make you feel.
In Berlin, I loved going on the walking tour. It showed me that my love of history doesn’t just belong to me. Looking at all of the people in my group made me realize I love this earth, and we can learn a lot from our history, good and bad.
In Krakow, I visited Auschwitz. I walked the path of the millions that were slaughtered. It reminded me that hate cannot be allowed to win, and acceptance is the only course of action.
In Munich, I loved the Deutsches Museum. It reminded me why I became an engineer, and gave me back that childlike sense of wonder for science that I had forgotten in school.
In Interlacken, I learned to push myself. I didn’t give up, and rode 28 miles on rough hilly terrain. Even though I needed to rest I pushed through and I am very proud of myself.
In Stuttgart, I visited my exchange student and attended Wasen, the big festival. I made great friends and I really felt a part of traditional German culture.
My experiences are unlike anyone else’s. They are uniquely mine, and I am infinitely lucky to have been able to experience them. So if you can, come make memories. Travel. Be outside your comfort zone. Because you will grow so much. Thank you all, and to all good night.