If Australia was about finding acceptance of myself, then Europe was about challenging that self. It’s only been one month but man do I feel as though I have grown—not so much as a better person—but with my mind. With the close of my second extended stay abroad, I feel as though I’m starting to get a more global mindset. I have another experience to compare this one to and I learned all new things in a continent that is much older than Australia.
The history and culture are what have done it for me. The history has been mind-boggling to say the least. From walking the ruins of Pompeii to hanging out in a 400 year old pub to staring at the Roman ruins face to face, I’ve had to continually open my mind to understand the age of all the things around me—and they are everywhere. It’s not just the famous sites, it’s the buildings I walk by that are surrounded by ancient ruins and the cobblestones beneath me that have belonged to a time of horses rather than cars and of knights rather than politicians.
Take all of this history and add to it art. I’ve gazed upon masterpieces as old as the ruins beside it. I’ve seen paintings dating back to the 14th century. I’ve even walked in the same places many of the most famous artists of all times have walked. Again, this has all been really hard to wrap my mind around.
Fast forward a few hundred years and I found myself surrounded by meaningful history from WWII. I walked where Hitler and his victims once stood. I saw the sites that make up the black and white photos of history books and not only did all I see all of this but I understood it. I read about it, I heard about it and I experienced—in a very small way—some of it for myself. These are things I cannot do in America.
Aside from all of the museums and sites and exhibits, I’ve also found many fascinating characters along my journey. Even more so than in Australia, I’ve met young people who think and act like me. They are traveling the world in between working for the man and we’re all opening our minds in huge ways to dozens of cultures and ideas that we previously knew nothing about. It’s a crash course in history and humanities and the knowledge gained can never be lost because it’s been experienced first hand.
I’ve debated politics, I’ve learned about other countries’ ways of providing healthcare and education. I’ve listened to what other peoples think of our president and our nation and quite frankly, they aren’t as impressed as they used to be, and quite frankly, neither am I. It seems as though a lot of the peeves I’ve written and ranted about for years are actually very rational when perceived through the eyes of other countries. How could I have know there were other systems in place beyond my home turf? I didn’t, but I have since learned that there are.
My mind has dove into a deeper creative process after seeing new things and hearing new ideas. It’s all happened so fast, I can do nothing more but take notes and make lists of things I want to study when life slows down and I return to a stationary location.
Thanks, Europe. You have been the catalyst of a very intimate and mind-altering experience. Until we meet again…