A big thank you to Common Room Readers…

… for leaving so many helpful and thoughtful comments on my earlier post.

It will take time to make any decision (and it will take life staying the same as it is right now, which rarely happens) but I was impressed with the strong common thread running through such diverse comments. Almost everyone urged doing something abroad first. Although I don’t have time at present to delve further into a post on future plans, all of the comments about traveling overseas reminded me that I haven’t posted my big news for spring semester here yet.

Spring Break will find me heading to Europe to spend a few days in London and about a week in Germany, visiting a friend in the Black Forest region. I am excited, yes, but mostly in shock that it’s actually happening. There have been a couple times in the last several years when an overseas trip was supposed to happen but ended up falling through for some reason or another that I had absolutely no control over.

I almost didn’t go this time. There are other things that could be done with the money. My family already sees very little of me during the semester, and going overseas for ten days rather adds insult to injury. It means an absolutely insane spring semester; I get back and start classes again the very next day.

But I purchased the tickets anyway.

Several months ago I was checking out some books on Europe for a middle aged library patron. I asked if she was planning a trip. “No,” she said, “I should have gone earlier in life. I have too many health problems now to travel, and the only way I can do it is by reading these travel books or watching travel videos.”

I thought about Helene Hanff’s books, about how it used to frustrate me to no end that she wasn’t able to make it to England for so many years, until it was too late to meet some of her friends there.

Life has been…a challenge lately, to put it mildly. These challenges alone are enough to make a person think twice about big plans like these. And yet, the worst thing to do (I think, and I could be quite off) would be to let these things define and limit the rest of life.

And so, thanks to God’s abundant generosity (seen via school grants and my own family’s encouraging spirit as I’ve contemplated this), I’m going to Europe for the first time. I should be spending time in Basel, maybe at the Alps, walking to old castles, visiting World War I sites in France, and catching up with the dear friend who lives there. I will be meeting Christian brethren from different countries.

On the language side, I looked seriously into doing Spain for a few days instead of London, but those costs were prohibitive. Should I be blessed enough to make it back there another time, Spain will definitely be a point to visit.

Apart from everything else, I’m also looking forward to this trip as a way to see if international travel is something I’ll love as much as I anticipate. 🙂

So there it is. Europe, 2008… not quite in the way I’ve imagined before, or even the countries (Germany & Switzerland) that I would have picked first to visit, but it’s happening. And I hope I appreciate every last moment.

(Mother-dear, shall I take every opportunity to enjoy myself? 😉

[Note from the DHM: Yes, dear, because I know you are so much more sensible than Lydia Bennet that your ways of enjoying yourself will be admirable, tasteful, wise, and nothing to bring a blush to a maiden’s damask cheek.=)
I’m excited for you, if a touch envious. And I think that since you lived in Japan for five years, have visited Korea, and enjoyed those experiences very much, there is no doubt that you will love traveling in Europe as an adult as much as you enjoyed Asia as a child.
Incidentally, Common Room Readers, this would be a lovely place for you to grace us with your tips on dealing with Jet Lag- the HG gets back from Europe 12 hours before she has to get up for her first class after Spring Break.]

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