It was an incredible experience to travel and learn this way over the last two months. Yes it had its challenges and unpleasant moments/days, but looking back at the big picture, it was amazing. I have learned so much academically, as well as personally. Most days I was so excited to learn more, (although I didn’t intentionally think of it as learning), to face the day and whatever it may bring. It was usually a new city, a new historical site or a new museum filled with magnificent pieces of art. It was challenging at times to do this alongside the same thirty people, but in my opinion, there was more good than negative, especially when feeding off of each others positivity and excitement. Their excitement was contagious even in the academic scene, it was so inspiring and encouraging to see what my fellow students were passionate about in their presentations or simply in general conversation.
Not only did I learn academically, but I learned personally about myself and personally about others. In this kind of group setting we’re bound to have to learn more about each other, even if sometimes it’s more than we want to learn. There were the challenges of cooking a meal together, whether there was tension or rain or both, but there was also fun times admist it. Packing and unpacking, setting up and taking down, cleaning or sitting on the bus for hours, living in the rain… the list could really go on, but we persevered through it all. Others encouraged me and I encouraged others. I leaned on the Lord for strength and encouragement in my own time of need, but we also spent times as a group to seek out the Lord. There were also many many times of laughter, games, silly conversation, tricks and relaxation and this was school! At times, yes I did have to intentional remind myself I was there for academic purposes but I would not have had it any other way.
Even though it was challenging at times to really engage with the culture, sites and museums, to sit down to journal or write a short paper, it was this that made the trip academic. That’s what made it more than just vacationing. I was, and we were, traveling intentionally in order to experience culture, learn history and participate in the present day happenings of other nations. Travelling intentionally deepened my understanding of my studies done before the trip, as well as in past years. I was able to see these artistic masterpieces for real and understand its style, oppose to just seeing a picture and reading a description that meant little to my non-artistic brain. This experiential learning also occurred in Dachau, the Eagle’s Nest, Tyne Cot Cemetery, the Coliseum, Versailles, Dresden, Prague’s Jewish quarter and more. We weren’t just playing beach volleyball, swimming, camping, eating out, shopping or living the life of a tourist; we were students, using the world as our text book.