We’re home! The work of reflecting and writing papers is a little gruelling….alright a lot gruelling. Nonetheless as champions we wrestle on because we know that there is value in the exercise of academically fleshing out all of these experiences we’ve just had. Like concrete when it has just been poured needs time to set before you can walk on it, so must our new found experiences and academic learning be mixed, stirred and set so that we won’t be passive to how they have changed us.Returning home and sharing all that I’ve experienced has been exciting, but at the same time not always easy. In the midst of sharing, I find myself caught in frustration knowing how inadequate my descriptions are of what I’ve seen and done, and sad when my listeners jokingly disregard my education for a vacation. I understand their perspective, because the education I’m receiving is a highlighted dream compared to other Universities. However, even though they joke, I can’t deny that it spurs my spirit to want to defend the intensity of the last two months to be more than just a vacation. For anyone who was apart of this travel term knows how much work went into the everyday academic learning, living communally, being attentive to learning and teaching, discovering, reading, and wrestling. There were incredible times of laughter and fun, but this trip was anything but a vacation. (Please forgive my passionate spirit and intensity, sometimes it gets the better of me.) I realize lots of people can just strug this off. Perhaps I’m not mature enough yet to be able to do that. Definition of a Vacation: a period of suspension from work, study or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday.On the other hand, since I’ve returned there have been times while sharing stories and memories of my time away when I can tell my listeners are saddened by their own inability to do what I’ve done (and at such a young age). Around the time that I sense this, I’ll trail my stories off so as to not cause my listener anymore heartache over what they may not ever get to experience.The truth is, I’m struggling with all that I’ve just learned and encountered and how to share that with those around me. How to share my experiences in a way where I don’t feel like I’m rubbing them in another listener’s face, but at the same time wanting there to be more recognition that my education is not a joke. I’m incredibly in love with all that Europe had to offer, and I know that what I’ve seen and tasted will positively affect who I am becoming and how I will live my life in the future. At the same time, I’m challenged by all there is to know in this world. Learning and reflecting on artistic geniuses has left me wondering what I have to show for in my life, and reflecting on whether or not I’m okay with being just mediocre. The reality is that mediocrity is not my battle. I’ve already made the decision to live my life to be the best that I can be, and that it’s not about comparing myself to those around me, or those who came before me. I believe wholeheartedly that God has designed each of us to do great things in small ways, and it’s through our attitude of heart that sets us apart from being mediocre.At some point, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, I will settle within myself that I may be the only one that understands how much my education means to me, and that it’s not a joke, but it’s okay if others don’t fully understand how unique this experience has been. For so many of us on the trip, great levels of maturity began to take form: maturity of life, maturity of heart, maturity of academic understanding. Education was taking place much further beyond the outlined curriculum.After finishing the book, The Once and Future King by T.H. White, I can’t help but relate to and reflect on the education Wart received from Merlin the Magician. The contemporary world would likely see Warts training as a form of “information education” because it did not take place inside of the traditional academic facilities designed for learning today. This is kind of how I feel about my travel term experiences. However, in reflection to the legend of The Sword in the Stone, Henry Canby writes that “education is an understanding of life.” Formal education must be varied with experience if it is going to create human beings who are not just “educated specialists” but men and women who are wholly educated about the world they live in, where they’ve come from, and honorable enough to lead the future.Question: to share or not to share? Will I continue to share my travel experiences…..yes. Even though I’ve been struggling with how to do this, I’m learning that these experiences are too valuable not share with those around me. So, the next time someone jokes about my education being a vacation, I will laugh and go along, but deep inside, I know there is more to life than taking offence to something others may not understand. I’m still learning on how to respond to those to get the glazed look in their eyes. Perhaps just preceding with caution in the uniqueness of every situation is all I can do (if you have any further suggestions I would gladly welcome them). This life is so rich of experiences no matter where we do or do not travel. Those who have not yet travelled, do not lose heart. There is still time and if it is truly a desire of your heart, continue to present it before God. He does hear those prayers. I speak from experience. To those who have endured this rant, thanks for reading. I’m sorry if anything I said offended anyone in anyway. These are but the mere ramblings of a young woman who is still learning.
Nothing can compare to what I have experienced in the last 6 weeks of travelling through Western Europe. No textbook or television show could ever give me the tastes, smells, and interchangeable conversations with foreigners that have come as we’ve passed through Spain, Italy, Germany and so on. After a heavy semester of long working hours preceding this travel term I thought this time might allow me to catch my breathe – I was wrong. I am grateful for some of the long travel days on the bus, because they allow me to sort through the intense days that we have that are filled with museums, lectures, cultural interactions, and thoughts of where all of this fits into my academic and personal life. A couple of weeks ago we were in Prague and took some time to visit the Communist Museum which to this point had hit me the hardest. Communism was something that completely devestated this city and country, where men and women my age were fighting for a freedom that I’ve only ever known. As we walked down main streets I couldn’t seem to wrap my mind around the fact that not even twenty years ago these streets were filled with violent demonstrations. I have never had to fight for anything like that in my life. For a day or two I struggled with this thought, feeling ashamed for the comfortable and luxurious lifestyle I live in Canada. I also felt increasingly angry at those world leaders in the world that have caused so much anguish in peoples lives. People like Stalin, Hitler, Lenin, the Apartheid in South Africa…and war in general. However, then after hearing Pete Fitch talk about healing in the midst of anger and brutality, I realized that we continue to kick hope as long as we hold onto our anger. As soon as we lay our anger down, that is when freedom and hope can fully be embraced. Not an easy thing to do, but I’m learning how important it is in my own life.