Tales from Abroad: Rachel Jones, Summer 2017 Sep22

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Tales from Abroad: Rachel Jones, Summer 2017

Final Thoughts of an American Abroad

Rachel Jones

I’m trying to think of what I would be doing if I didn’t go to Study Abroad. What would I be doing right now? Probably working, at home, or spending time with friends- nothing close to seeing parts of the world I have never laid eyes on before. It is incredible to think how much of a difference a change of environment can truly make. I feel older, confident, humbled, experienced, and am now aware of just how little of the globe I really have seen. As St. Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Leipzig, Berlin, Weimar, Wittenburg, Munich, Prague, Milan, Pisa, Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome, Amsterdam, Paris, Geneva, Nice, Monaco, Barcelona… I may have read a few pages, but I have a great many more chapters to go.

(Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy)

 

I am also learning how big a difference history makes, whether it be wars, time periods, or certain figures. Individuals such as Luther, Bonhoeffer, even the one man in the crowd of Nazi supporters supports who refused to conform – all of these people resisted the norms of their day and followed what they knew to be true. This is something I don’t think I could have fully comprehended at home – but being at the actual camp where Bonhoeffer was kept and murdered, seeing the doors to the church Luther bravely defied the Catholic church, standing where Hitler gave his dangerously moving speeches – this whisked me away from my current reality and showed me the emotions, pressures, and tremendous courage these figures must have felt.

 

(The church where Martin Luther nailed his theses, Wittenburg, Germany.)

One thing that stuck in my mind was the explanation of why Germany allowed so many immigrants into their country. They still, to this day, feel guilty for the atrocities committed years ago. I can’t help but wonder why the citizens of today feel this guilt for their country – the careful design of memorials, the intricate preservation of the past, the weight of murder still carried on this innocent generations shoulders.

The ginormous cathedrals on every corner are a constant reminder of the purpose of history, the ever-present nature of God, and His remarkable works throughout the world in the lives of His people. Whether grand, looming, and powerful like Paris’ Notre Dame, bright, colorful, and beautiful like Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, or the breathtaking detail in Rome’s Sistine Chapel, the character of God is ornately described in every city.

 

(Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain)

Among our travels, a number of gracious people took the time to help me and my group. Many of them knew we were simply college students with little money or influence, and therefore expected nothing in return. Whether it be directions when we were lost, advice on the best restaurants, a discount on a service, or anything else, the purely motivated kindness of the people I encountered was touching, and gave me courage to befriend people from all backgrounds and places of the world.

 

 

(Berlin, Germany)

I discovered I like Sausage and Mushrooms – two things I was fully convinced I would never like-thank you Germany and Italy! I also discovered I feel uncomfortable if I am not aware of my surroundings, or if I don’t know exactly

where I am directionally. One of my favorite habits that I developed over the course of this trip was pausing in spectacular moments and reminding myself to bottle that feeling, those sites, those smells or tastes up in my brain to save for a day far away. I now have a collection of warm happy moments I can recall without a second thought.

 

(Vatican City, Rome)

I am in Texas now, but Leipzig already feels like a home – even right now I wish I was curled up on my pull out couch, looking out the big open windows into the quiet streets of Germany.