It feels incredibly surreal to be sitting in my room now without the need to wake up early tomorrow morning to travel to our next site. I wrote this yesterday right before we went out for the last time together in Paris:
This is our last night. 1 night left to really savor the moment, marvel at the sights and most importantly, spend time together as a group, one that is less like a collection of students and more like a crazy, dysfunctional but deeply attached family. And we don’t even fully realize this yet. Yet we all know, consciously or subconsciously, that when we all go off on our own ways this summer, a part of us will feel like it’s missing.
For the last 10 weeks, our entire perception of time and life-pace has been slammed into overdrive. We have been living at a highly intense level, cramming so much into the seemingly always-dwindling time we have. Through this rapid lifestyle, we have all been forced to learn how to live in the present since one wasted moment means that we could already be in a new city or country. The feeling of having frequently missed something of value was not an uncommon phenomenon. We have worked through it though; picking up whatever scraps of value we could along the way and moving forward to find some more.
Sometimes, we really experienced “beauty” and other times we only got a quick peek, which can be a bit of a tease. We learned that even things that are clearly not positive can contain a different kind of importance worth seeing such as our visit to the Terezin concentration camp outside of Prague. We also learned that not every challenge is an unfortunate thing and not every unfortunate thing has to be a challenge. We realized that part of being a tribe, as Linda dubbed us, was having the ability to sacrifice one’s own needs for the greater benefit of the group- and this certainly isn’t an easy thing to do. Yet we all had to face our own personal difficulties, and many of us surprised ourselves with what we accomplished.
Ask any one of us and you will find that it is very difficult for us to rank the experiences we had or the sites we visited. I realized this after I fell into a particular habit of declaring in every single location we traveled to, “this is my favorite city yet!” I finally stopped doing that and just accepted that everything we have seen has been pretty amazing. There were a certain special places that were literally so stunning that I found it difficult to believe what I was looking at such as our drive through the Swiss Alps or Budapest at night along the Danube river or countless others.
It is undoubtedly going to be tough to return to reality. However, I would not change a thing because it is the bittersweetness of the return that signifies a unique and incredible trip.