I leave in 2 hours for London, where I will rendezvous with the rest of the Normandy Scholars. I packed my bags: one large luggage bag, one small duffel bag for carry-on, and my backpack full of books and my laptop. I brought my laptop so I can blog while I am abroad, and my father even lent me the family camera with which to capture my European travels. People asked me many times before today: “Are you excited?” and I would tell them “Not yet.” Excitement, at that point, could not penetrate the myriad of thoughts in my head. I worried about school work, errands to run, good-byes to deliver, and clothes to wash. I think that before right now, I had always obscured the upcoming trip by pushing some trivial thought up to my head, the attempts of my brain to calm myself. With excitement comes nervousness, and now I certainly am nervous. Many things can wrong while I travel, but no real reason to worry exists. At most, I will be gone for around a month, and my family joins me at the end of the month. I spend more time away from my family during college.
A feeling of gratitude overwhelms me, as I do not think I deserve this trip. Not that I did not work hard during the school year–I did–but that there is no way for me to earn such a trip. I won scholarship and saved money and plan to be frugal, but my trip certainly costs a lot of money. Besides that though, I think how lucky I am I get to do this. My parents never studied abroad, most of the world never will have an experience like mine, and many of my friends who are loads smarter than me do not have the time or money to do what I can. In so many ways, the trip blesses me and I do not deserve it. For that reason and others, I plan on squeezing as much out of it as I can.
As I told Katlin last night, I refuse to reflect upon my semester until after I return from this trip, seeing as how it and my semester interconnect. I will learn more about my 19 fellow Normans than I know about most of my other friends, seeing as how I have never traveled across a continent with many of my friends. Of course, I will see many beautiful sights, the highlights being: (London) St. John’s, Churchill’s War Museum, (Normandy) the beach, Normandy graveyards and museums, Monet’s Gardens, (Paris) restaurants, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Arc d’Triumph, the Louvre, (Berlin) Brandenburg Gate, Concentration camps, Jewish memorials, the Reichstag, and the Berlin Wall.
The food I will get to eat also excites me! I decided to break vegetarianism slightly, as I do not want to miss out on several classics that I may never get to eat again. Some of the meats I promised myself I will eat: fish and chips, sausage in Germany, and some sort of fancy French meat. I will probably eat meat two times a week or so, I will not go overboard, but I decided that I would regret missing these opportunities more than I would be mad about eating a little meat. I will also try some of the alcohol, seeing as how the drinking age is 18 across Europe. I won’t drink much, as drinking is not something I do typically. However, the same rule applies to drink as with food: I do not want to miss out on these parts of the experience. I will drink Guinness and ale in Britain, wine in France, and beer in Germany. Not much, but something with dinner to give me a taste of the country. Especially in France, the food prospects make me giddy. I want to visit boulangeries, patisseries, fromageries, chocolate specialty stores, and definitely a farmers market. Going anywhere in the summer bodes well for vegetarians, as the produce will be abundant and in good quality. I will take pictures, have no fear.
So, the time arrives for me to leave as my mom waits to take me to the airport. My next post will most likely be live from London, unless I take a funny picture while traveling and decide it’s blog-worthy.