It should probably come as a surprise to absolutely no one that I failed to keep up with blogging about traveling. Anyone who has ever interacted with me knows I am the queen of procrastination and fail to keep up with the things that are not directly in front of my face. I spent so much of my time adventuring, that I hardly ever had the chance to sit down to write and actually process what was happening around me (another shocker, I did not take time to process anything, classic). Since I have been home, I have been running a million miles a minute in 20 different directions. I was thrown back into the world here and my time traveling feels like a distant memory. When people ask me about my trip, I really don’t have a good answer because I was all over the place and have not given myself the time to figure out what exactly happened those two months. I’ve decided that over the next few posts, I will spend some time reflecting on where I have been and what I have learned whilst galavanting the world.
It might be a little repetitive because of the few posts from before, so sorry… if you really hate it, feel free to send me an email and I will file a formal complaint with headquarters.
So without further ado, let’s begin!
Out of all of the places I went, I spent the most time in Austria. My study abroad group met up in Vienna, where we spent the first 5 day marching around the city. We hit a lot of major museums and cathedrals. I just flipped through my journal, and I wrote ” Vienna is fine, I like it, but I don’t love it.” I think that is a fair summation of my time there. It is a city that is filled with history, but also extremely rainy and crazy expensive. After a few days, we continued on to Graz, which I think is like the Richmond of Austria. We stayed there for almost two weeks (with a weekend of free travel in between). We had “real” class in Graz, complete with a classroom and everything. I hadn’t been in a classroom in a long time, and while I knew that I liked school, I forgot how much I really truly enjoy it. It was a joy to get to have actual intellectual conversations. I am really intrigued by the topics of the courses (I won’t waste your time explaining them, but if you’d like, you can read my essays when I finish them).
While the time in Graz was marked by extreme nerdy-ness, it was also marked by this intense build up to May 22. My journal is full of thoughts on what it was like to be so far away, in an entirely different world during this hard time. I struggled to find the balance between being present where I was and longing for home and my family. The Lord met me in that time in huge ways. I struggled with finding the words to explain how I was feeling (probably more surprising to me than anyone else). Time and time again, the Lord would give them to me. At first, that may seem like a small thing, after all, words are just words. All they do is label a situation, not fix it. It wasn’t like my heart was suddenly healed and I was happy all the time. But those words were a game changer for me. The pain of losing my brother will never be healed this side of heaven, but the words to explain this strange feeling are so comforting. I found myself constantly thanking the Lord constantly for them. I spent so much of the past year pretending like nothing had happened and that I was fine, so to be able to name what happened and explain how I felt about it is a blessing.
Graz is also where I started to allow the Lord to show me who He has made me to be. For the past year, I have been in the trenches, fighting day by day to stay afloat (some days more successful than others). And while the Lord had something for me during that season, I felt Him calling me into a new season. He started revealing new passions to me. I got to learn about the refugee crisis while I was there. It just ignited this fire in me. We went into a school and were the resident Americans for the day, and I realized how much I loved the students there. I saw the pain that the Church has caused in a lot of people’s lives. I realized the lasting impacts of mixing the Church and State and began to ask big questions about what that should look like. There is this page in my journal that I went back to constantly which is just full of questions that came up. It is a totally random mix of things, and I’m not sure how all these things fit together, but I’m excited to continue to allow the Lord to work in my heart to pull them all together. I literally have no idea what it will look like, but God probably has some super cool plan that He graciously allows me to not only be a part of, but uncover piece by piece in a crazy fun adventure (classic God).
It all started in Graz. Being bold. Asking hard questions. Really examining the world. Allowing myself to feel things. A lot of the major themes that thread throughout the trip started here. I can’t wait to to tell you the rest.
And now, some pictures!
Disclaimer: these pictures are in a super random order that make absolutely no sense. I tried to fix it, but me and the blog software got into a fight and to spare my sanity, I gave up on rearranging the pictures. It probably bothers me more than it bother you. But, again, if you have issues, go ahead and send an email and it will be passed along.
Disclaimer #2: I stole (with consent) some of these pictures from study abroad friends. So.. ya know.. do with that what you will.
This view literally looks like a painting! It was probably one of my favorite’s of the whole trip.
Gravity coaster, best thing. Find the one nearest you and go to it immediately.
This is how we celebrated finally being done with all those grueling long hours of classes.
This night was one of my favorites because I got to sit here and talk with two sweet friends for hours about real life stuff. Also the view was great at both levels of light, so ya know.. here ya go.
The presidential run-off election happened while we were here, super fascinating stuff. I would love to share more about it.
Fave place. Fave drink.
WE WENT TO THE BALLET! It was so magical. Also, it was only 3 euros, which was perfect, considering that is all the money we had.
Boiled beef: sounds gross, looks unappetizing, taste delicious.
I’m pretty sure this was taken right after I found the exact same watch to replace my lost one. It was a moment of pure joy.
Sarah and I lived together for the whole trip. She is such a gift. I’m so thankful for her. If you don’t know her, I suggest you change that really quick.
The artwork. Its impossible to capture the beauty of it.
This group of people. I don’t think I have words to describe what its like to meet a group of strangers in a foreign country and the spend the next four weeks together. We laughed a lot. We sometimes wanted to kill each other. I would not change it for the world. I’m grateful for the time spent with each and every one of them (and extra thankful that we are all at JMU together).