"Seeing Picasso's Guernica has encouraged me to focus on my own patriotism. I like many Americans have great pride in my nation, but I think that it is important not to cross the border into ethnocentrism. I love my country, but I appreciate all others as well. No country has become what they are today without the help of others. The world is so intertwined that I don't understand how we cannot love and appreciate all other countries! ...I think that within the first few days in London I became incredibly overwhelmed with the size and energy of the city. I was amazed at how different, yet similar our lives could be when we were living thousands of miles away from each other. This experience has encouraged me to think less of myself and realize that there are billions of people who are trying just as hard as I am to find their way through life. . . . I learned so much about myself! I learned how to effectively communicate and cooperate in a group, how to use art as a form of communication, how to be independent, how to be flexible with my schedule and how to appreciate my surroundings at all times! Traveling has allowed me to think about things which I have never even dreamt of before . . . Because I had such a wonderful time in Spain I am now studying Spanish and hope to conquer Italian in the future. My educational goals have truly changed as a result of the trip! This truly was a once in a lifetime experience which has changed the way I think, learn and feel."
Throughout this trip, I've become less afraid of the unknown. I've become excited about the future and now look forward to the unknown. I have learned more of who I am. I had a major setback in the fall semester. I was so disappointed and confused about how my life was going. Life wasn't what I had expected and wasn't going where I planned. Fortunately, that set back kind of led me to apply to this trip. Thinking of my trip to Europe makes me so happy. It was exciting doing new things with new friends. Although I was hurt by the setback, I realized that everything worked out better than I ever planned. I saw famous artwork IN REAL LIFE. I was in Europe exploring each city on my own! I know my testimony and self-confidence have grown. I met new people who I really came to love. I came back a different person. This really has been the best experience of my life so far. [In the end], life can seem disappointing at times, but when things look really, really bad, push forward and keep going. Life turns out so much better than you would have ever planned.
I [studied] Notre Dame Cathedral before . . . but nothing could have prepared me for the reality of that beautiful place. The architecture is phenomenal. I nearly cried as I walked along inside it. . . . Standing in the middle of the cathedral, looking at the stone walls and stained glass . . . that made me feel something. People would work their whole lives, give everything they owned, to build that cathedral and others like it. . . . They had so much faith; it's inspiring to see the results of their labors still standing, still incredibly beautiful.
"Old, crumbling and ancient,
Lining paths of once traveled roads.
Stacked like pieces of a jigsaw
puzzle, creating refuges from the storm.
Alone, bold and strong sitting in
fields like great magical toads.
The chiseled and warn marks
give the hard surface good form.
What stories you can find within
Mont St. Michel - Huge ancient city on an island . . . What would their time have been like? One of the great mysteries, desires, and fantasies of man is to surpass progression into the future and instead travel back in time. Just like when you study and learn of art and architecture, when you actually get to see what you've only just spoken of in person, it means so much more . . . It is so true that as I walked the streets of jolly London, climbed the winding stairs of Notre Dame and went to old, small towns like Mont St. Michel, I wanted so much to see them when they were first made. To be there in the crowds, rubbing shoulders with the people who lived then. I've always wanted to meet great people like Aristotle, Michelangelo, Charles Dickens, Columbus, Jane Austen, Mozart . . . how incredible it would be to go back and see them in their element. . . to just see the mannerisms of the people in those times. Like the old saying, 'You don't know a man until you've walked in his shoes,' I want to walk in their shoes, to really know that time era in history!
This is not my first time to visit Europe and most of the places in London I have visited, but when I walked into the National Gallery, I was awed and speechless once again. I saw Van Gogh's Self-Portrait, da Vinci's Virgin of the Rocks, Georges Seurat's Bathers at Asnieres, and Degas' Combing the Hair, among others. I have seen these paintings many times in textbooks, classrooms, and magazines, but they continue to fascinate and capture my attention. Why? ... To see something you have learned about offers a real, personal experience that no one can make or take away. Each time I see these great works of art, my imagination is whetted, my mind opened, and my confidence grows . . . First-hand aesthetic experience is an education all on its own...However, the main thing I have learned is about me. I have learned that I have an inner confidence and independence that helps me calmly handle potentially stressful or dangerous situations. I have accumulated all my education learned from BYU-I and applied it to my life and my adventures... Throughout this trip, I have lost my fear of the future and unknown, but learned to embrace it and learn from it . . . I have learned what I am all about. I have learned from my experiences and I am thankful for the opportunity to do so . . . I did not realize my growth until it was tested.
[Mauthausen Work Camp] was the single most moving experience in Europe. I remember every detail and the feelings that overwhelmed me. I remember the rain and the quiet. I remember the pain and sorrow I saw in the faces on the walls. I remember how awful it was to see this tiny glimpse of what these men suffered. . . . Visiting this place made me realize that we cannot ever let something like this happen again and the only way to prevent it is to fight ignorance and apathy. We need to be involved in the lives of others no matter how easy it is to ignore the world's problems. Those who lived next to some camps didn't even know what was going on. What was their excuse? What is mine?
This has been a trip of "firsts" for me. Not only in the fact that this is the longest amount of time I've been away from home . . . but with some first-time eye opening culture shock of how people live outside the Mormon bubble. Now, not all the firsts on this trip were bad. My first professional theatre show, my first castle exploration, cathedral viewing, and dress up concert . . . This trip has shown the world to me - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because of my experiences, I now have a broader scope of people and how their choices influence their lives . . . I have a bigger world out there, and because of this newly acquired knowledge, I feel so much more educated. I don't want or intend to rub everyone's nose in the fact that I've been there [to Europe] and they haven't, but I feel that I have more to contribute now because I've seen the flip side of the coin.
The skills I gained in preparing to go to six [European] countries made a trip to San Francisco easy. I was so excited to go that I started planning six months in advance, which ended up really paying off... While I counted down the months, I researched things to do...I searched online for prices and times (open hours) to further plan our days. But I also allowed for time to explore too, because I learned over and over in Europe that some of the best experiences were stumbled upon.
In order to remember the trip, I used the same [journaling] form I did in Europe. During lunch or quiet moments, I would jot down thoughts in my sketch book (which had all the trip's information in it, too). Then that night I'd pick a couple of the more poignant experiences and flesh out those stories. My husband did something similar by blogging from his I-phone. He'd take a picture, write about it and post it almost immediately. We now have an extensive record of the fun we had... We saw sights, relaxed and improved our photography skills... I discovered that we can afford to go on vacations if we plan well and save up, even though we're a young married couple.
. . . when I saw Michelangelo's David, it was such a feeling of accomplishment. For Michelangelo to have spent 3 years on that sculpture is . . . amazing. I tried to imagine how he felt when he finished it. I'm sure he felt accomplish[ment]. I did because I viewed such an amazing piece of art. [It] is such a satisfactory feeling to view something and feel accomplished. . . This [experience] caused me to appreciate hard work. I love to feel accomplished after working hard on something; I'm sure Michelangelo did.