At this moment I am sitting on the floor of my living room back home, seeking relief from the humidity and heat in the gentle breeze of a nearby fan. I am trying to write this final blog, my last published account of what I experienced and learned during two months studying in Europe, and finding it rather difficult to put my jumbled thoughts into words. Slightly out of frustration, I tell my mother that this blog has had ‘a thousand beginnings’— then I pause. The name seems fitting, and I roll with it.
This past Europe trip was an amazing opportunity to delve into the culture and history of what was once the very heart of the Western world. Seeing the artwork of Renaissance greats like Michelangelo and Raphael, listening to the music of Franz Liszt, solemnly passing through war sites and memorials— it was all the beginning of a new and richer understanding of both mind and spirit.
Also, in the midst of this whirlwind European tour I was given a glimpse of what could be: of different cultures and worlds that I might choose to call home in years to come. In this realization that I could really live in Europe, another beginning is made.
What else began on this trip? My appreciation for art, a renewed sorrow for the state of North American culture, a new appreciation for quiet time and personal space—catalyzed by those two months abroad. And at the same time I have also begun to understand the great value of my home in Ontario and of the family and friends who shape me there, as well as the influence in my life of small-town St. Stephen. Certainly I had considered why I love these places before, but not until now did I realize how deeply I have been molded by them—just as I have been molded by the different peoples and lifestyles I witnessed in Europe.
Beginnings, renewals, great changes and small—an experience of learning and of transition.
That is what Europe gave me; a thousand beginnings.