It only took a week and our grand adventure in Europe was marred by the outbreak of disease. Seriously. It’s like the bubonic plague came back just in time for our arrival. You can’t go meet more than two or three people without hearing the sniffles or a cough that sounds like a meeting with St. Peter is right around the corner.
Sickness aside, the first two weeks of the semester have been nothing short of a blur. After months of anticipation and great irritation that the semester starts way after main campus’ semester started, we have finally arrived. The freaking out about having your suitcase underweight to avoid overweight fees, deciding what to bring and what to leave behind, and those failed attempts at using Duolingo to learn German have all led to this.
A whole bunch of passport checks, long lines to get through security at the airport, maybe a meal before the flight, another passport check at the gate, eight hours, attempts at a nap (all failed), and three movies later, we are in Austria.
Here, we are immersed in a world where none of us, I’m pretty sure, speak the language, none of us want to do anything except sleep, and we all have dreams to see the greatest architectural and artistic achievements of man throughout time. Some of the most beautiful places in the world are just around the corner. And they are ours for the viewing.
The first two weeks have been an adjustment. Most important of which was the fact that the Super Bowl started at 30 minutes after midnight and ended, overtime and all, well after 4 a.m. Oh, and we had class the next day, so there was no way that staying up should have been an option. Especially when you blink and it’s 21-0 and you think it’s pretty much over already but you find out in the morning that you missed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history and you missed Roger Goodell get booed vociferously as he handed the Lombardi trophy to the Patriots.
But through the next 15 weeks we will all go through ups and downs, stressing out about homework, sleeping on trains, seeing the sights and sounds of Europe. Each of us growing closer to God in our own way, whether that is skiing on the Alps and experiencing the beauty of the world he created or making a pilgrimage to an enormous basilica in France.
We are all called to experience this semester in such a way so as to grow in maturity of both mind and spirit. And it is with our work and daily actions that we are sanctified. It should be the goal of everyone here that every single aspect of their life become a prayer.
In the words of St. Josemaria Escriva “we are all called to be saints in our ordinary work.” It is important to remember that this doesn’t just apply to your serious work. It applies to everything you do in life. Every single action has the potential to be a prayer.
And so, my fellow students embarking on this great, once-in-a-lifetime adventure with me, I ask you to remember that as we forge friendships, lose friendships, meet new people, experience new foods, spend long hours on trains, stay up late studying, see amazing places and walk in the footsteps of history’s giants, remember to take time out of your day and go to Mass in these amazing places, pray a rosary on the train, offer a quick prayer at various points of the day.
Don’t let the excitement of what is material and incredible cause you to lose sight of who really is responsible for where we are and who is truly responsible for creating this incredible world and all the places that we are bound to see in the next 15 weeks.