These are the final photos of our trip, a collection from beginning to end. What a time it has been! We have come so far both as friends and as travelers. We have landed back in Warsaw, Poland and are all currently setting up shop for a couple of hours, until our flight departs back to Newark. We’re returning with a heart full of new love, stories full of laughs, and baggage slightly more heavy with souvenirs. We all have our favorite parts of the trip and I thought you’d like to hear about some of the pivotal moments in our personal experiences. Enjoy!
My first ever experience in Europe was breathtaking, jaw dropping, and filled my stomach with butterflies. Culture shock is real! It is fascinating that other people in the world communicate in languages other than English! From struggling to even making it to Belgium at first, I am happy we are able to look back at it and laugh. There were various memories that I created with Dr. Gross, Dr. Bennett, Kait, Dan, and Katie that I will never forget. We had many laughs on this trip, and I learned so many new things.
Although probably about 90% of this trip will stick with me, the one thing I will always, always remember is that a young guy who was about 17 years old was conversing with our tour guide in the train on our way to Dachau from Munich. Our tour guide then informed us that the guy was telling him how it was very good for us to come a long way to learn about the concentration camps and other history, so that it can never happen again. Which is very true. History is in the past, and we learn from it. We learn from history, just as we learn from our mistakes.
My favorite thing of Europe was the food! I took pictures of just about each dish and was never not satisfied. I look forward to coming back to Europe again soon! Any chance you get to travel, do it! There will be no regrets.
— Maria Lopez (Freshman)
For the students, this trip was the very first time we have been to Europe. There have been some happy times where we did not worry about being away from home, whereas other times we missed home deeply. Throughout this 10-Day trip we covered a lot of ground and saw many things. (Obviously we learned a lot too). Some things were brand new while other facts were first hand. A few things resonated with me from my experience on this trip.
During our meals and throughout our train rides we met people who lived in the countries we visited, while also meeting few from America as well. While talking with these people they talked about their countries problems and asked us questions about our country’s issues such as immigration. What stuck with me was the fact that these European countries have very similar issues as America. We tend to think that America is unique with our issues but in reality, our issues are very similar to other countries.
Another thing that stuck with me is the fact that people in the countries know America and can even name a few states. These people also know all of the surrounding countries and possibly even countries distant from them. What shocked me, however, wad the fact that most Americans would have some level of difficulty naming all 50 states in the US, but these people know America plus some surrounding culture.
Lastly, in Belgium, we went on a tour of battlefields and famous monuments. It was very moving to see where they battles we learn about in class took place. While visiting these sites I could almost picture in my head what would be going on along with all of the distress and sadness that occurred. There are so many memorable parts of this trip, that I could write a novel but these are a few towards the top of my list.
-Catherine “Katie” Barnes (Freshman)
While traveling, we met a variety of people of whom had radically diverse opinions on the current state of Europe, specifically England and Germany. We met a German woman on the first night who worked for the EU yet detested the way Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, allowed all immigrants from the civil war into Germany. This woman was a conservative-leaning EU worker. Toward the end of our trip we met a German man who is a social democrat and fully supported Merkel’s decision. Overall the various political opinions allowed us to see some of the issues facing Europeans today.
-Daniel “Danny” Ginchereau (Sophomore)
I would have to say, through our travels, perhaps my favorite experience, or at least the one that left an impression on me was the two days spent in Paris. Specifically the trip to the Opera Garnier and the Eiffel Tower. I think that these were my favorite parts because these sights were something I had been waiting to see for most of my childhood, and what has already passed of my adult life. The Phantom of the Opera was my first broadway show, and after having seen the musical once more since, and reading many different variations of the infamous novel by Gaston Leroux, the drive to visit the structure that had inspired such a phenomenon had become stronger.
While just simply walking up to the building, I could hear the build of the orchestra in my head. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s overture filled my ears from my mind’s music, and made my heart pound. Strolling through the building on the inside prodded other music from the show to fill my soul, including a number that took place on the enormous staircase. Visiting Box 5 (and seeing it labeled for the Phantom) was almost unbelievable. However, the relation to the musical I love so much was only my initial excitement. The more I learned about the building itself, and its history, only increased my love for the place.
Last, the Eiffel Tower, the heart of Paris…there are truly no words to truly explain the emotion I felt walking up to this architectural masterpiece. It is the iconic symbol of the city of lights. The icon that I have emblazoned on my clothing, on my notebooks, and calendars, and now, on my heart. The twinkling lights moved in time with my heart beat, and it was that moment, that I knew that Paris had stolen my heart. The city and I are now in sync, and since I left…I can hear it calling me back. If no other part of this trip convinced me that I need to revisit Europe the minute I leave (which every day has taught me that I must) the visit to Paris definitely had. I am in love.
–Kaitlyn “Kait” Mulrane (Senior)
There you have it folks. This trip had left handprints on each of our hearts in multiple ways. We had embarked on this journey as acquaintances, but we are going home as a family. Sharing the experiences (some of us for the first time) had changed the way we look at history, the world, and ourselves. We could not be more grateful for this opportunity, and plan to go back as soon as possible. Of course the faculty that tended to our needs, wants, and whims was in a major way, responsible for the smooth trip. From directions, to food, to cultural understanding, Dr. Gross and Dr. Bennett were indeed the heart of our experience, and for that we are all especially grateful! There was no better way to spend a GCU Spring Break than to travel to Europe–though some of us did catch a bit of a cold. Despite the rain, snow, delays, cancelations, and all, I don’t think that any one of us would change one thing we experienced. It was magnificent.
For the last time,
–The GCU Travel Crew