We are down to our final month here in Gaming — the semester is winding down. Just one week ago, we returned from our 10-day breaks, boasting stories from the beaches of Malta, adventures in Ireland and mission trips in Romania.
Every student has a different concept of how time in Austria should be spent. Some people try to get to as many different countries as possible. In fact, the rumor is that students from the fall semester last year visited as many as 23!
Others try to make Austria a time full of adventure, doing as many crazy or daring activities as possible. Then there are those who choose to stay back multiple weekends in Gaming to get to know the surrounding Austrian area.
One of my favorite activities to do when I am bored is to list every city and country that I have been to or am planning on visiting while in Europe. Looking down at my list never ceases to amaze me. However, I realized that I have spent the great majority of my time abroad in Italy alone.
With so many other European countries surrounding me, some might see this as a waste, but I discovered that I really love spending a longer amount of time in fewer places. Going to a lot of different cities for just a day or two is great for seeing a wide amount of different cultures, but I personally enjoy getting to know one or two especially well.
For my 10-day, I chose to go back to Italy again, for the third time in Europe. This time though, I had the great blessing of experiencing Europe with a different group than usual; my mom and little sister came for the whole 10 days, which happened to coincide with their spring break.
I chose to take them to my favorite places, back to Rome and Assisi, which were even better the second time around, believe it or not!
Even though I had already been to both Rome and Assisi, the experience was even more enriching and fun than the first visit (partly because I have the funniest little sister ever!)
It is one thing to journey through Europe with the group of Franciscan students, who travel together for a full four months and an entirely different thing to share it with those from home, who are not used to going from country to country every week as we students are!
Seeing the awe they had in everything was so refreshing. They were amazed at even the little things that we had become used to living here, from the crazy way people drive on European streets to the toilets you have to pay for.
It was even more special that I got to use the knowledge I have gained from the past three months here to make the traveling easier and take them to all of my favorite spots.
I think it is fair to say that all of the students came back from their 10-day break with smiles on their faces. Some came back with sunburns, others with stories of bungee jumping and ATVs.
And maybe I’m biased and maybe I sound sappy, but I believe I had the best experience of all, the chance to share my trip with the people I love more than anyone in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.