I’ve been using the words surreal, wow, and “I can’t believe we’re here!” way too much the past few days, but it’s true. After so much planning, prayer, and anticipation, Europe Semester is finally here. Its been surreal waking up in the morning at the Rezidence Lundborg just steps, steps away from the Charles Bridge. Is this real life? For the next three months, at least, it is.
On the flight here, somewhere over Michigan, we had front row seats to a thunderstorm. The seat belt light switched on and we watched the powerful lightning pierce through the thunderheads from our plane safe above all the commotion. Somewhere right around there, the magnitude of this trip hit me. Not 100%, but I definitely had a ‘woah, I’m really going to Europe’ moment. Then somewhere over Goose Bay, Canada, I realized that this is a me thing, too. No one in my immediate nuclear family has been on a trip like this. Being the youngest child, I always knew what to expect of things because I was the second go-around. That build-in comfort zone was an incredible blessing and is probably the reason why I love adrenaline and adventure so much. And now, this time, it’s all me. This semester is a lot of new and a lot of unknown and a lot of growth. It already been filled with so many sights, smells, and sounds in the few short days we’ve been in Prague. One country down, ten to go.
Prague was a great place to start our trip. The city is so beautiful, and each new day brought more adventures. We wandered and walked and got lost in the city. We meandered through the different artists and their wares along Charles Bridge, we’ve been to the Prague Castle, and we had our honorary first scoop of gelato. We’ve been caught in rainstorms, hung out with locals at a jazz club, and spent many moments doubled over in laughter. The jetlag made some of us a little crazy, and the products of that have been some incredible friendships and memories.
After four days, I’ve come to the conclusion that pictures won’t do this trip one bit of justice. I wish I could capture all these moments and use Harry Potter magic to send them out into the world. I wish everyone could see the architecture and taste the local cuisine and feel the uneven cobblestones beneath their feet. It’s a comprehensive experience, and pictures only capture one facet of these moments. I’m still taking pictures, of course, just more pictures of people and crazy adventures that I want to remember forever than picture after picture of architecture. I take one picture of the church or castle or monument and that’s that. I want to be present for my eyes to see and take it all in, rather than fix myself behind the lens every second and miss what I’m really seeing. I want to let this experience soak into me in deep, deep ways that I never imagined. I’m going to be challenged, and I’m going to grow, but I need to be present in order to do that. So, I’ll try to do one post in every city or country, depending on the duration of our stay. Instead of being on facebook or uploading pictures or blogging excessively, I want to be out wandering and experiencing these cities and making memories. So, if I drop off the planet for a bit these next few months, if I get behind on blog posts or never post pictures on facebook until I’m back in America, please don’t hate on me. I’m only going to have this experience once, and I’m milking it for all it’s worth.
We had our first day of class today, and yes, this semester is going to be a lot of work. Basically every morning we have two to three hours of class, then museums or excursions in the afternoons. We have many group dinners and also plenty of time to eat on our own and explore the city. We have thick course readers and papers to write. And while the homework aspect isn’t my favorite, I've figured out a way to make it manageable. Sitting on the terrace overlooking the Charles Bridge, drinking iced tea and working on readings like I did yesterday, is a darn good way to do homework if you ask me.
Tomorrow, we leave the Czech Republic for a week in the big city of Berlin. We'll take a day to visit Wittenberg and another afternoon at a concentration camp. We'll dig into classes, museums and the food, nightlife, and sights Berlin has to offer. It'll be a week packed with studies, walking, laughter, getting lost, hearty German food, and lots of emotions.
My devotional this morning said it perfectly, “As you move through your life today, look for ways to build your faith. Have your own spiritual treasure hunt, looking for those blocks that will make you stronger and more beautiful than ever.” That is what I want from this trip. I want to see and experience God in new ways. He is already challenging me and has been so, so faithful in new friendships and wonderful memories here.
So, here's to the amazing beginning of one of the most amazing semesters of my life, and the many weeks still to come. Over and out from Prague.