I’ve managed to put off writing this blog entry for as long as possible now. I got back to Cork on May 1 after my month of travels, then hit the books hard for two exams I had last week. Now, however, the next exam is not until the end of the month, and I am suddenly finding myself with a surplus of time on my hands and I should put off blogging no longer.
It’s not me being lazy, I promise. I think this blog has been the most enjoyable school credit I have ever done, really it has, but I just don’t know where to start. I kept a journal for my month in Europe, to serve as a cross-reference for this blog, and so I can have “The Notebook”-style moments with myself in my old age. The journal is over 75 pages long, and it is accompanied by about 1,100 photos. But the more I think about it, the more I’m coming to realize that I could spend hours typing out word for word what I did, where I went and what I recommend, and do this blog up Rick Steves’ style, but I think in doing so I might overlook the most crucial parts. On the way home, and on our last couple days traveling around, Maura and I talked and I thought a lot about all the things we’d done. There really are no words to describe how truly amazing it is to have an experience like this. I have learned what it’s like to see the world from another perspective, to see my own country from another perspective. I’ve learned about the Coliseum, the Sound of Music, refined my German and learned that it needs a hell of a lot more refining, learned how to negotiate train travels through France, how to make Belgian beer and chocolate, and how to get through UK border patrol with a slightly illegitimate train pass. I learned that the best lessons are the ones away from the chalkboard, and that at the end of the day, it’s not really up to a school or an institution to educate you (no offense, Mary Wash or UCC). It’s up to yourself to decide how much you really want to learn from your teachers, from your parents and from your friends, and from the everyday world around you.
The most important lesson I think I did learn has been just how much is still out there to learn. That, and that I should appreciate minute of it. Thanks Mom and Dad for everything. I’ll never be able to tell you just how much all of this has meant.
But I’m done being a sap for now. So, without further ado, let me present the German, Austrian, Italian, French, Belgian, and English travels!