Almost ten months ago I was able to go on the trip of a lifetime with a group of classmates from my university. For fourteen days, we traveled through Europe exploring cities, landmarks, art and more surrounding World War II. It was the first plane ride for several people in our little group and certainly was the longest plane ride that practically all of us had been on.
When we stepped off the plane in Dusseldorf, we were all the farthest away from home that we had ever been. It’s almost comical to read through my journal from that first plane ride because my thoughts were all over the place. I was writing about how the plane wasn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be and about how it was the longest that I would spend away from my boyfriend since we had been together. At one point about six hours in to our flight I wrote, “Am I supposed to feel a certain way about going to Europe? I feel like just saying ‘I’m going to Europe’ makes me sound pretentious but I worked hard to be able to do this so I don’t think that’s fair. Maybe being on the plane this long is making me worry about things that don’t matter, like how I am ‘supposed’ to feel about being in Europe. All I know for sure is that I can’t believe we’re finally on our way” (May 12th).
I am so glad that I actually wrote in that journal every day we were gone. There are things that I had forgotten that are found in the pages of this blue notebook that I get the chance to relive because I wrote it down. Little things like how I was panicking about being the only person who had to check a bag because American Airlines had smaller restrictions than our first flight, or how empowered (and silly) my travel buddy and I felt getting to go to a local mart and pick out German junk food for dinner instead of eat out late.
My favorite part of re-reading what I wrote during that trip is to basically get to watch myself fall in love with each place we traveled. When I was writing about our little convent in France, you can practically see me fall over in love with the chiming bells in the courtyard and listening to the sound of nothing but wind through my cracked window at night. I fell in love in Europe in a way that I had never experienced love before. It was a love for the physically places I got to see and experience, a love for the people whose stories we got to share, and a love for travel that I don’t think can ever leave me now.
It is ten months later and I still get chills when I think about stepping foot into Sachsenhausen. I still wonder who stayed in that same small room in the convent before me. I wonder who else walked down the streets of Berlin and all the lives that were changed because of the wall that our group witnessed from behind a fence. I wonder what other (then) 21 year old had taken the same path I had at Harlaxton feeling a little lost because of everything we had seen in two weeks. I wonder so much more because of that trip that I am sure that I will be forever indebted to the curiosity sparked because of those two weeks I took to go see these places while in college.
Tonight, I’m going to enjoy looking back through the rest of this travel journal.
Tomorrow, I’m going to continue to be a work of progress just trying to see as much of the world as I can.