If you're a Purduette, sorry for getting the song stuck in your head, but I couldn't resist. So the trip is officially over and I'm back in the town of Franklin, Indiana. The plane ride back went flawlessly. We had a layover in Dublin so I can cross Ireland off the list now too. After five security checkpoints, and border control, Scarlet and I were off for our seven hour movie marathon, I mean flight. We arrived in Chicago around seven and spent another four hours in the car. I am proud to say that I stayed awake the entire time.
Between second hand smoking a pack each day and chasing down stray cats to pet, I did manage to learn a lot on this trip. Both about life, myself, and my family. There isn't just one underlying lesson that stands out after four months abroad, but instead a lot of little things that I heard or experienced along the way. Here are just a few memories and quotes that have stuck with me.
Clothes don't need to be washed nearly as often as I used to wash them at home. I survived on 4 outfits for 100 days, and sometimes only had shampoo for detergent!
"You'll find it often takes very little to make a difference." This was a quote from our Program Director, Ivan, on the cruise. It's so simple and most people will skim over it. But I also think it is very empowering and important to remember.
I told this story in one of my blogs, but I'll bring it up again. After paying $14 for one cone of ice cream, I will never ever get ripped off by a sales person again. So Europe has taught me to be a stronger negotiator.
No matter how well rested I am, if you put me on a bus for more than 15 minutes I will fall asleep.
"Better to burp and bear the shame than not to burp and bear the pain."
Being active now is the difference between having a page full of meds to take each day and just a few when I get older.
Life is anything but linear. I've always had a sort of path planned out with school, jobs, and clubs that will lead to a successful career and family. But after all of the people I've met and life stories I've heard, I think that the type of success I am looking for can come in many other ways
The house I am sitting in right now as I write this farewell blog is full of many fond memories, but where I feel at home isn't necessarily in a structure, feeling at home is more about who I am with. And I'm not only talking about being stuck with my family in random apartments since February. Most people call their childhood houses their homes, but for the past year when I'd tell people "I'm going home for the weekend" it was never to this house. I felt at home with all the friends who have housed me when my family was off in the RV. I felt at home in the Athena with such a great crew and traveling companions. And I most definitely feel at home at Purdue and Camp Tecumseh.
Happiness is not based on where you are or what you are doing, it's a choice. I spent 3 months at some of the most beautiful places in the world. I wasn't always happy!
I'm sure now that I'm signing off, I'll think of a million more things I should have written down. These few thoughts don't do justice to all that I've been exposed to, and I'm sure I haven't even realized some ways I've been affected.
But to end on a lighter note, I'm sure the first question you all are dying to ask me is "What was your favorite place?" It's a fair question. In fact it's the first one I asked my siblings when I saw them after they'd traveled the US. So if you've already asked it, don't feel bad, it's a trap we all fall into. However, if you do ask that question one of the following will happen:
a.) I'll give a standard answer like "Venice was the most unique place!" and the conversation wont go much further.
b.) I'll make up a new answer each time, so it wont be very honest and again the conversation will probably end soon after.
c.) I'll say "That's such a hard question to answer, I liked everywhere we went" conversation over.
So I know what you're all thinking "So Brenna, what do you want us to ask you?" Well you're in luck! I have taken it upon myself to come up with some really invigorating questions that will make us grow closer as friends and won't doom the conversation.
1. What country had the best food? You can never go wrong by bringing up food.
2. Which country had the cutest boys?
3. Did you run into any other American travelers?
4. How did you handle the language barrier?
5. Did you see any weird plants?
6. Where would you live now that you've seen what each country is like?
7. Did you ever blend in with the locals, or did you stick out everywhere?
8. How did you decide what was important to pack with all the limited space?
9. Tell me about all the apartments you've lived in.
10. What country do you think I'd like to visit?
11. What language was the coolest to listen to? to read?
12.What was the coolest fashion trend you saw?
13. Now that you've seen so many royal palaces, what would your palace look like?
14. What person in history did you like learning about? Not sure about the answer for that one yet, but I saw a statue for a guy named Draguten. I bet he was cool.
15. If you could go back and change anything about this trip, what would it be?
But I know all of you are very creative people and can hit me with something I've never thought of before. With that, I'll end this chapter and leave you with one last thought. I am confident that anyone can take a trip like this one. I am lucky to have been born into a family who did, but luck really has little to do with the trip. My parents decided they wanted to show their kids the world while we were all still living together, so they sat down a few years ago and started planning. It's as simple as that! If you take anything from this blog, I hope you realize just how capable you are. All it takes is the will to do something different!
If you want to get in contact with me to ask any riveting questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org