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This past month, I spent 2 weeks in Italy and 2 weeks in Germany. It was an incredible experience for me. The idea of transatlantic travel is difficult for me when I think about how much energy is used to get me to and from Europe. But then I see this:
That would be a Roman sunset over the Tiber River with St. Peter’s Basilica in the background. Or how about this:
The view from the top of the dome at St. Peter’s. My journey to the top was filled with laughter, and I was full of awe once I reached the top. This was one of many experiences I had over the course of the month that I could not believe I was having.
Not all my experiences were positive, but even the negative ones, like getting on the wrong train in Berlin, were memorable and an incredible learning experience that I would not have had in the United States.
I was able to experience history first hand. I saw the church where Luther was ordained, and the room where students voted for German unification back in the 1800’s:
I walked through the Pantheon and a German concentration camp. I ate traditional German food in the Kartoffelhaus (Potato House) and Brauhaus (Brew House, where I was able to buy beer brewed and bottled right there). I went to mass in the Vatican and saw Pope Francis come to the window. I learned firsthand that Italians and Germans have very different traffic cultures.
I had to write two papers about why the experience of travel abroad for a class is the best way of learning, but I won’t bore you with the details. Just know that this kind of travel teaches you more than you could ever learn in a book.
Most important, however, was falling madly in love with Germany. From the Erfurt Cathedral (above) to how delicious real sauerkraut and bratwurst is to the fact that I could walk or take the train anywhere I wanted, I loved Germany. This is important because Will is going to apply to go to a technical school in Germany, but he needed to know I would be happy there first. And I would.
I would be happy because not only do I love the culture, but living in Germany would give me a greater ability to lead the healthy and sustainable life I want to live. For example, in my current town, I have to drive if I want to go anywhere and there is essentially no public transportation. But in Germany, we would be somewhere where we could walk to the store, or work, or school, or wherever we needed to be, even in the winter. If we couldn’t walk, we could bike or there would be a train going to wherever we need. We would not need to own a vehicle.
For these and so many more reasons, I feel justified in taking a transatlantic trip. This was an amazing experience that enhanced my education and taught me about a better way to live. I can’t wait until I am able to return.
Where is your favorite place to travel?
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