Saturday, May 19, 2012

Missing Europe

          I am sitting in a Panera Bread right now in Reading, PA. I came from Anna Hershey's house this morning after dropping her off at work bright and early. I have had such a great trip so far. I really love traveling and seeing a different part of the country. Pennsylvania is really a beautiful state! Traveling also always reminds me of Europe and all of the adventures I had last semester. When I left Europe in December I was so happy to be coming home. I was so homesick and could not wait to be back where I felt I belonged. The first month or two of being back was so good and hard at the same time. I struggled with finding meaning from my trip. My friends returning from EMU Cross Cultural trips all seemed so excited about their time in some third-world country experiencing a lifestyle completely different than anything else they had ever experienced.
          But I had gone to Western Europe. I took classes that I did not really enjoy and spent most of my time with other Americans. Sure there had been some good times, but was it really worth it? I was back at EMU and loving being involved with everything, having a million friends, taking leadership positions, and really feeling like I belonged. However, this feeling did not last long as I hit some bumps. I took on too much with 18 credits, auditing another class, working two jobs, and being president of three clubs on campus. The stress became too much and I was having some personal problems on top of that. I was also missing Krissy like crazy. Suddenly, being back was not as great as I thought it would be. I began to miss Europe.
          This last semester was not all bad. There were some really great parts and life-changing experiences that I am still processing and hope to share. And by the end, I had reconciled my experience in Europe. Classes that I had taken in Europe started to become relevant to other things I was studying. Looking back now, I think that International Law and European Peace and Security Studies were probably two of the most relevant classes I have had in college for the career path that I hope to take. Even my internship has seemed to have more meaning now that I am back. And now, I miss Europe so much! Little things will remind me of something that happened and I find myself talking about Europe more than what people are interested in. I miss the cities that I explored and the friends that I made. I might have become close to mostly Americans, but they were Americans whom I would have never had met otherwise.
          I have realized that Belgium really was the perfect choice for me. As more EMU groups have come back, I see that I would not have enjoyed traveling with a large group. I love that I had some core friends, but I did not have to spend all my time with them. I had so much time on my own to explore and be independent. I needed the chance to go somewhere where no one knew me and get out of my Mennonite bubble. I wanted my own adventure to explore the infinite abyss and see the world without always having a strict schedule. And I did! I went out and saw so many new places and lived in a place where I did not always feel like I fit in. I learned so much about myself and now have memories that I will never forget! Even the bad times do not seem nearly as terrible. I do not know when I will get back to Europe, but right now, I cannot wait. 

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