One Week Left

No puedo creer está el fin.

Writing this today I only have a week left in Europe. Five and a half months went much faster than I ever thought they would. All semester I kept telling myself, “I need to update my blog!” Well I failed miserably at that. Yet while I know that a lot of people in my life were anxiously waiting for updates that weren’t coming, I’m glad that I’m working on it near the end. Now I can write about my travels or my time spent in Vigo in reflection, with a wider perspective.

I have seven days left including today. Most of my travels are finished with only one trip still planned. In the past 161 days I’ve visited 14 countries on two continents. I rode camels in the Saharan desert, watched Germany win a game of the world cup in a German beer garden, hiked the Swiss Alps, ran into a high school friend in Spain, went strawberry picking in Bavaria Germany and saw works of Monet I had always learned about in school. I gained cankles and swollen feet while in Verona and celebrated my 21st birthday at an unexpected music festival in Marseille, France. I stood in the annex where Anne Frank, her family and friends were separated from the rest of the world and I walked through Auschwitz, shocked at what humans could do to others. The list of experiences I’ve had is endless and not finished.

Watching the French Open in view of the Eiffel Tower!

But more striking than standing under the Eiffel Tower, or wandering the lavish halls of Versailles are the friends I’ve made and the people I’ve met. Such as the man I met on a train to Zurich who gave me 20 Swiss Franks for no other reason but to be nice, the girl from Amsterdam who spent a year at circus school in Spain or the two boxers my friend and I met at a Milan train station. The fleeting moments I had with each of them touched my life. And even more so are all the people I met in Vigo – my friends from around the world (Germany, Brazil, England…) and those not that far from home (Louisiana, California and even as close as Nebraska) – these people have become a part of my life.

Granada, Spain

These people are the ones who share those memories with me that sound like they came straight from a movie, that understand inside jokes about trains and pants, who appreciate that first bite into a kebab, the coveted last caramel wafer, and the endless Vigo rain.

Riding a horse in Bavaria, Germany.

There were days I never wanted to end and others I wish I would forget, but I wouldn’t trade in any experience. Each brought with it something to learn, something to laugh at, or to make me cry. I won’t lie, I’m excited to be coming home. But I also don’t want to leave. People always say, “bittersweet” but I don’t think that’s strong enough. Gut-wrenching pain and inexpressible joy. How can we feel two competing emotions so strongly?

Czech spa wafer at Karlstejn Castle.

I’m still planning on updating my blog when I return home. I have a long list of things I want to write about, especially considering I only wrote three posts in the last five months. But the next seven days I’m going to be present in each moment – soaking up the last memories, eating countless pastries and Swiss chocolate, riding public transportation, walking endlessly, and being annonymous in countries where I don’t know how to speak a single word of the native language.

Italian pizza in Verona!

Who knows what the next seven days will bring, but I know I will have even more stories to tell.

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