Wednesday, May 1, 2013

europe reflections

Whew.  So, there’s a lot going on!  Spring is finally here in Gaming, after a record-breaking sunless winter (least sun in 100 years. Vitamin D deficiency, anyone?)  The bikes are out, the birds are singing, and we as a student body are significantly happier! :)

It’s hard to believe that I have less than a week left in Europe.  In 5 short days, I’ll be back in Virginia.  Yikes!

I am both looking forward to and dreading it.  I am, of course, anxiously waiting to see my family, to spend time with them, to tell them about my adventures, to give them the little things that I may-or-may-not have picked up around Europe :)  I also haven’t seen my friends in a very long time (some in over a year!), so it will be nice to see them too.  I want to eat chicken, be able to read signs in the grocery store, and listen to the radio.  As many little issues that there are in American culture, I miss it as a while.

So, what will I miss from Europe?  I’ll miss the beautiful buildings, the historic churches.  the easy public transportation.  The nature here in Gaming.  The culture and the food (granola! wienerschnitzel! wine!)  Traveling virtually anywhere I want.  Experiencing these countries with wonderful friends.

I’m afraid that I’ll be overwhelmed at first, with the airport and the grocery stores and the traffic.  I’ve been to 3 international airports while I’ve been here- each of them has had a maximum of 50 gates, I believe.  Grocery stores? Ha.  The one we go to here in Gaming has maybe 8 aisles and 2 checkouts.  I’m used to stepping into the road and having all cars, trucks, and buses stop for me instantly.  (Last week, I rode in a car for the first time since January 13.  So strange!)

And what am I returning to?  Well, my first stop in the states will be the Chicago Airport, which essentially has 3 different buildings depending where in the world you desire to go.  Gone will be the days of 10 airline counters, all of which do check-ins for the other airlines.  Macy’s at home is the size of an entire mall in the town of St. Pölten here (which is about 40 minutes away from campus).  In Virginia, I wouldn’t dare cross the street except on the sidewalk, and I have to wait for a break in the traffic to do it.  Otherwise, I’d probably get run over.

This week, I have been very grateful that the rest of my family has lived in Europe before.  Because at least they will have some idea of what it’s like to return to the hub of civilization after living in the middle of the Austrian mountains for 4 months.  (My family didn’t live in the Austrian mountains, but they lived in very-small-town Belgium.  You know.  Same thing, right?)

So, next Monday, I will board a plane and fly across the ocean, leaving what has become “normal life” and return to what is really “normal life”.  And next thing I know, my “normal” will probably change once again.

Because life tends to happen spontaneously.  And know what?  That’s ok.

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