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T. Time: III of VII
There’s some good in this world
and it’s worth Fighting For
It’s not often that I am rendered incapable of words. That must be obvious to you by now, my long silence on the blog non-withstanding. Entering the humbling halls of St. Peter’s Basilica and La Sagrada Familia did the trick. Today, as I watch the cursor blink lazily back at me, I am again at a loss. Our country has just made a major decision. It truly breaks my heart to see the division which it has caused, and grappling with the reality of the fragmented populace that it has revealed in a land we deemed to be that of unity will be the challenge of our generation.
There was never any doubt, no matter how the votes were tallied last week, that the nation which many of you may call home has slowly been revealed as battered, tired, and some may say defeated.
So today, I’m not going to demand revolution or submission. I will not be so arrogant as to tell you that we must storm the streets in protest. I will refrain from demanding your compliance with the new regime. Today, we will discuss something much more difficult to grasp than the immediate recoil of defeat or the smug elation of victory.
Recently, I took a fairly hurried trip to Prague. This last March, my program informed us that for an extra fee we could sign up for an excursion of the city – which naturally I marginalized and decided I could plan myself. As such, I and two of my friends booked an Airbnb, snagged train tickets, and planned our departure four days prior to the day we were to leave. I know, quiet the responsible and pensive decision to make.
Who would have thought that in light of recent events, from the hurried planning to national elections, this trip would be one of the most hopeful I have been on in my time away from the United States. We marveled at baroque architecture and the Lennon Wall and explored a city full of history, culture, and sweets. We spent nights and days with those that we loved, and I even had a chance encounter with a friend would have never thought I would see in Prague.
Thus after relishing the weekend in the laughter and good conversation of friends, it’s no wonder that Prague is a city in which I felt unwilling and disappointed to leave. In a way, it parallels a trip I had many months earlier.
Montpellier the city wasn’t anything outside of the ordinary for the French Riviera. Graceful giant cathedrals of stone and impressive architecture all rising before the beautiful sight of the Mediterranean. While this was impressive, what made the trip truly special was the people – both strangers and friends. The host Florence was incredible. While she spoke hardly any English, she was jovial, generous and kind. Finding ways to communicate with us through gestures and even cracking good natured jokes at the expense of yours truly. A store clerk was incredibly gracious as he ushered us in. Again, he spoke hardly any English – however, he gave us incredibly kind discounts on what we purchased. Even when a ragged man walked in and began to pay for his beverage, the clerk smiled and waved him through, not asking for any kind of compensation.
Later that same night, the three of us sat with the ceiling high windows thrown open to reveal the night sky and the bright lights of the city, illuminating a massive church across the street from our fifth floor apartment. The hours passed by as we discussed our hopes and dreams, the trajectory of humanity, and what we hoped to accomplish for our fellow man.
As you recall, I mentioned in my first entry that this story would be full of colorful and vibrant characters and friends both new and old. That’s something that I think these trips really display beautifully in concert with one another. Separated by a few months, they both teach the same lesson.
You’ve probably been feeling a few different emotions over the past week. Whether it be elation with the conclusion of this grueling year and a half of politics, or exhaustion as you come down from your democratic induced high. Maybe it’s the victorious feeling of triumph as your candidate emerged victorious, or perhaps the crushing despair of a defeat too horrible to imagine.
Yet I implore you; never lose faith in your fellow human beings, and never give up on those that you truly care about. Don’t despair. Don’t lash out in anger or euphoria in your victory. Strive to see the good in humanity. It does the soul wonders, and could even do more for the world in which we live.
-Your meek conductor and Watchword Guide, T. R. E.
Introducing one of our lucky bloggers for the fall 2016, Thomas Enck will be sharing stories from his program in Salzburg, Austria and all over Europe! Enjoy!
T. Time: I
“May our travels carry us over many seas and to many shores, but may we never let them carry us from who we’re meant to be.”
It’s a strange feeling, having the sunset send you off at the beginning of a flight only to look forward to a warm greeting from the sunrise on the other side. These are the clichés that writers dream about; the ending of a chapter and the beginning of another, entering a new era, so on and so forth.
To tell you the truth I’m still a little peeved with the 5-hour delay that we had at the beginning this flight. And that’s what made the extended allegory possible in the first place.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the beginning of T. Time – a blog that will cover a small town, Colorado kid gallivanting throughout Europe for 4+ months with good friends new and old. But by no means is he the focal point of these tales.
Obligatory fair warning based on the name: if you were looking for a blog covering the Masters, or Golf, or Bubba Watson’s Oakley Jetpack (it’s a thing – Google it) you have, somewhat regrettably, come to the wrong place.
Currently your guide on this journey is nowhere near any of that. Rather, he is sitting in an Icelandair Jet which happens to be named after Hekla; a volcano that was thought to be the entrance to Hell in the Middle Ages. Charming name, I’m sure you’d agree. Just the plane you would want to fly you over the North Atlantic. That being said, the egregious delay, the temporary annoyance, not even the off-putting reference to the lair of Lucifer where able to match the unbridled curiosity, anticipation and yes, trepidation, of your metaphorical pilot – a man who has never set foot off the North American Continent.
The reason is fairly simple, and it is what we will cover over the next several months. Coming of age in the world in which we live into is an exceedingly difficult. Full of moments of paralyzing fear and insane bravery, insatiable love and inconsolable loss, destabilizing confusion and concrete certainty one after the other. We are expected to know who we are and step into the world fully formed before we ourselves know the answer to so many questions.
Thus we must learn, and to do so we must leap into the unknown. We must experience what life has to offer in the lessons taught by the circumstance around us. Maybe not in an aircraft named after Hell’s gates, but I digress.
I am not an incredible person by any means. In fact, I would say that I am average in most every aspect. But I would love to take you on this journey with me. Within the experiences that we have on a regular basis there is so much to learn.
It would be my pleasure if you would join me – metaphorically of course. The plane wasn’t delayed long enough for you to make it to D.I.A. after this was posted, even if it may have felt as such. The narratives to be told will be cut with humor and hilarity; pondering, questioning, and hopefully minimal pandering. All will be bursting with colorful characters and absurd and thought provoking accounts. Through these stories we can explore what it means to be young – be it literally or the young of heart – in a world that is so full of uncertainties. Dreams, ideals, aspirations and beliefs, all and more will be covered in due time through the medium of experience: across the entirety of Europe no less.
The honor would be mine to serve as your symbolic flight attendant on this journey. You, however, are the protagonist and primary traveler in your odyssey of self-discovery.
Should you choose to join, you have my word that our plane will not be delayed. In fact, we’re ahead of schedule. In addition, you can name the plane whatever you would like – Though may I humbly suggest something mellow, such as Basket of Puppies or Edelweiss. All you have to do is say the word and we’ll come roaring out of the dawn into the unknown.
Who knows. Maybe this daybreak it isn’t just a tired metaphor after all. It could truly be the start of something new; but there’s only one way to find out.
-Your meek conductor and Watchword Guide, T. R. E.
It’s week 6 and most of us are finally seeing (or starting to) see the light at the end of the tunnel after the dark, sleepless nights of midterms swept over us. Surprisingly enough, this quarter has been really difficult for me. As if reverse culture shock wasn’t real enough, my academic life has spiraled a whole 360 as well.
Being abroad for the past semester was quite different then the pioneer lifestyle I was adjusted to. I went to the Pablo de Olavide University (UPO) in Sevilla, España and needless to say school was quite different over there. For starters, I was able to stack my classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, with a short cooking class on Tuesdays that ended about halfway through the semester. Coming back to DU, I was facing a schedule with four classes and two labs taking up all of my week, Mondays through Fridays; Fridays being my heavy days.
Homework was really slow, which I loved because it gave me a chance to relax and take random strolls through the plazas. The big projects I had to do were mostly in groups, so I would meet my classmates at different cafes until we found the one with the best Wi-Fi connection or the best tapas; which brings me to the topic of my favorite class: The tapas cooking class! Every week we created different dishes with different variations of the dish. For example, if the dish for the week was paella, between our four different groups in class, we made chicken paella, shrimp paella, pork, etc. We also made two different dishes each class, since in Spain they eat two different course, kind of like your appetizer and then your entree. At the end we would all try everyone’s dishes and eat together like a family. This was probably one of my favorite things I did in Spain because I was able to fully emerge myself in their culture in the kitchen and I loved trying all the different dishes and drinks!
Being back at DU has been a love hate relationship really. I have a busier schedule now and even though I feel more productive, it can be a bit overwhelming. Readjusting after a much more relaxed semester abroad has been a challenge, especially when I’m not taking a cooking class to de-stress, but at least I was able to get a taste of both academic worlds. Studying abroad taught me so much more than international finance and management, it taught me a different skill set; a new way to retain information in a different language, how to commute on the metro, how to make some delicious tortilla Española and how to enjoy all that life has to offer from a new-found perspective from across the world.
Gladys Juarez, Study Abroad Assistant
One of my favorite memories from studying abroad was the time that I snuck into a private beach for the Egyptian military. It was the middle of July and it was ridiculously hot in Alexandria. Luckily the city enjoys the cool breeze from the Mediterranean, however the humidity and congestion of the city make you feel like a walking puddle in a polo.
The public beaches in Alexandria are plentiful, yet they are very crowded and not the cleanest places. So one of my program chaperones wanted to take us to a more secluded beach in the Montaza Gardens and Palace. This place is stunning with lush gardens, a royal palace and hotel directly east of central Alexandria. The public beach there was crowded, and with a group of American students in a crowded beach, we garnered a lot of attention. So our chaperone had a friend who was in the military and had access to one of the private beaches in the gardens. This beach was strictly reserved for the military and their families. Our chaperone and his friend had to distract a security guard to check the few guests that he was allowed and then sneak the rest of us through a fence. Nobody noticed the additional Americans at the beach, however luckily there were enough locals for us to pass as other people’s guests.
The scenery at this beach was everything we wanted. Open space, privacy, and cleaner that most public beaches. This was our first beach day in our program and one of the few that we were able to have. In the picture above you can see part of the beach looking west along the Alexandrian coastline stretching for miles rimmed with endless apartment buildings. It was quite the luxury to go to the beach and enjoy clean waters, sands, and do some language study in the sun at an uncrowded beach.
Eric Boscan, Graduate Study Abroad Assistant
Have you ever had your heart broken? It usually happens when you realize that something incredible, something transformational, something you love, is lost. I have been feeling a little brokenhearted lately because being abroad for the past four months changed my life for the better: it made me a broader thinker, a more aware world citizen, a better friend, and a more confident person than before. But now that time is over. Studying abroad for a semester changed my world and opened my eyes to more possibilities for my future than I knew existed. I constantly struggle with reminding myself that even though the time is up, the impact this experience had on my life and myself as a person will stay with me forever.
As I anticipated, my classes were rigorous and interesting. What I didn’t expect were all the things I learned things that could never be taught in a classroom. By speaking to people from different countries, I learned about various cultures throughout Europe in addition to their perspectives on the United States. I have never been more aware of U.S. politics as I am now because the people I talked to were so engaged with political issues throughout Europe and the U.S. and wanted to hear my thoughts on those issues. Learning from people of various backgrounds about their opinions and beliefs allowed me to expand my perspective regarding multiple issues including the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the terrorist attacks in Paris and around the world, and the best way to run healthcare systems. These conversations encouraged me to consider the United States’ role in those issues from an outsider’s view and ponder solutions to those issues with a more worldly perspective. I learned to be more critical of the things I previously accepted as fact, yet I also learned to appreciate things about the United States which I previously took for granted. I also learned how to communicate better, both verbally and non-verbally as well as to be fearless in trying to speak another language instead of embarrassed about how little I know. Studying abroad gave me the skills, knowledge, and curiosity to speak to people from different cultures about their values and beliefs.
One of the biggest changes I felt in myself was the development of independence and self-sufficiency. I no longer had my familiar city, friends, family, or even language around – yet I managed to create a life for myself. I learned how to navigate public transportation and I learned my way around the city. I had a bike and a gym and a favorite coffee shop and a short cut as well as a scenic route from my apartment to school. I learned how to not only survive, but thrive without my familiar surroundings or usual support systems. I made new friends, some of whom now feel more like family. Living so permanently out of my comfort zone forced me to grow up and rise to the challenges. It forced me to embrace adulthood with a more mature and aware perspective and to learn exactly how much I am capable of accomplishing.
- Never speak French with Fleming
- In the French culture, keep your hands on the table at dinner
- Belgian Beer, slow and steady. Slow and steady.
- French women definitely shave their armpits
- I can’t sing Le Marseillaise but its growing on me
- Belgium has 5 governments, and none of them seem to be effective
- Protests just happen, because they can (beware of angry farmers)
- Trains do their own thing, so roll with it
- Pretzels really are better in Germany
- Don’t go to the French Riviera after massive floods
- But if you do, travel with someone you love
- Definitely don’t airbnb anything outside of major downtown cities
- Every time you travel somewhere look outside and think about it, there’s probably somewhere very similar in the U.S. and that’s probably the reason those people moved there
- If you can’t handle being uncomfortable then you’ll never know what its like to be comfortable
- European towels are smaller and thinner
- You need an Umbrella, a good coat, and some resilient shoes in Brussels
- It’s ok to take a break.
- Things in Europe aren’t better or worse, they’re just European.
- The U.S. isn’t the only country that follows U.S. politics.
- I don’t know as many languages as people in Europe do
- Levi’s are cheaper in the U.S. by a long shot
- Europe needs more Dad jokes
- You can buy Frites-sauce in the grocery store
- Sweet, not salty for breakfast
- Money comes and goes, you don’t. Some things are worth buying.
- Traveling alone or with someone or both
- Taking the Thallys train is a beautiful thing
- Subways are the equivalent of live YouTube, you’re going to end up watching some weird stuff
- Europe has supermarkets
- I’m never going to be able to describe this experience in its entirety.
- Never try to memorize the types of grapes in the Loire Valley
- Lyon is the best kept (not so) secret of France
- Terrorists will never stop Europe from being Europe
- Kebab stands can solve the world’s most difficult issues of diplomacy
- Switzerland is really
- Skiing Switzerland really is all its cracked up to be
- The real Matterhorn is cooler than the Disney one, although it does not have a roller coaster
- I don’t like mulled wine; I gave it my best shot (pun intended)
- Applying for residency in Brussels is like to dipping your body in peanut butter and walking around town: you can do it… but why?
- Inflated grades in the US may be silly but at least they make you smile more than deflated grades in Europe
- American politics are funny to watch abroad until you realize that you are returning to those politics
- Most meats at a Buchon in Lyon: just eat it and don’t think about.
- Don’t put a $20 bill in the Laundromat coin machine (unless you love .50 coins)
- You may not be fluent, but you’re in a good spot if you can help an old lady with directions to the bus stop in French.
- Spontaneity is great, but have a back up plan
- Amsterdam is wild
- Hitler is the reason that Alsace wine varieties are so limited and controlled
- Hotels and stars: 1-2 shame on you (stay in a hostel), 3 Russian roulette, 4 good times
- Space bags are the way of the future
- Cornichon = pickle, not a pointed hat *cue confused professor’s face*
- People who say carbs are bad for you clearly have not had enough French bread (it’s a lost cause fighting its seductive delicious powers)
- The ladies who clean bathrooms all day probably make more money than I will out of college