BY HANNAH CRITES
When I get home, I expect my family and friends to ask what my favorite part of the semester was. While it’s too soon to give an exact answer, I can tell you now that it will not be an attraction – it will not be something that I scheduled or planned. My favorite moments of the various trips I’ve taken are the moments I get lost or settle down and reflect on the day with my travel group.
We have a group of eight, four guys and four girls, and we are a bunch of odd balls who didn’t know each other well before coming to Austria. We just all had mutual friends within the group and we all came together and decided to travel Europe. It’s really funny how it works out. We have personalities of all shapes and sizes, so when you throw those personalities into the stressful situation that traveling can bring up, we are forced to form tight bonds.
So far, I have been to Salzburg, Vienna and Venice with these wacky people. We have a lot of fun together, but as I said, it’s the little moments in our trips that have a lasting impact in my mind with each trip.
We went to Venice, Italy a few weeks ago and had an amazing time visiting the various cathedrals, seeing the gondolas, feeding pigeons in St. Mark’s Square, and finding other Venetian attractions. One of the girls in my group had a family death that week and the funeral was held on the same day we were in Venice, so we decided to gather together to pray a rosary for the deceased and her family. We found a dock right on the Grand Canal and dangled our feet above the water offering comfort to our mourning friend.
Once we were done praying the rosary, we continued to sit on that dock and watch the sun go down over the city. As the sky filled with color, we talked about anything and everything. We admired the beauty of the city from afar and thanked God for the opportunity to travel. Once the sun had set, we wandered around the city, which was equally beautiful at night, and stayed up late in our hotel playing cards.
It’s the simple moments I want to remember about traveling in Europe. It’s the moments when the four history majors in our group start acting like kids in a candy store while wandering through a medieval castle, the moments of wandering around an Italian street market with a close friend in search of the cheapest “Italia” sweatshirt we can find, the moments of getting a little lost and stumbling into a residential area and being able to see how the locals live, it’s the moments of sitting on the water and supporting a mourning friend.
I hope our travel group stays close once we get back to main campus. Two of them are commuters, one of them is leaving Franciscan, another is graduating in May, and I am headed to Washington D.C. for a journalism program for the spring semester, so we’ll do what we can to stay close. The memories of those moments that are my favorite will be the thing that keeps that bond going strong.