Dank je Well, or Alstublieft.

In Dutch, "alstublieft" means please or here you are (as a sort of end of transaction statement).
Dank je wel (pronounced DANK-YU VELL) is "thank you"

I've been home for three weeks.

Someone told me that you don't know what was life-changing until way later, with hindsight and everything. Before I left, my paternal grandmother told me to look at what I see, and listen to what I hear (I believe I got that right). She reminded me of this on the phone the other day.

I read this, and it rang so true thinking of the trip which has passed, that is now cemented in history.
“I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.”
--Christopher IsherwoodGoodbye to Berlin
Journaling, talking about my trip, blogging, is all developing the metaphorical film in my mind which has been under exposure for months. I wonder what pictures will come out.

Contrasting
“Despite all the romantic notions about traveling, the truths that it dulls the senses. The traveller is always one step ahead of his feelings. New impressions eclipse concern for what is left behind. While amassing experiences of the world outside, his inner being goes to waste. Such is his state of mind until the next destination"
--Arthur Japin, The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi

I'm so glad to be home, to be in a place where English is what is expected, I always felt like my interactions in Europe started with an apology for not knowing the native tongue.
Hopefully the lovely Duolingo will put me on a path to be more prepared for my next trip to Europe. Yes I am of course already planning where I must go next: Iceland, Dublin, Glasgow, Barcelona, Athens, Croatia, Switzerland, Sweden.

Everyone asks how the trip was, and I think I've developed a great monologue about the highlights, seeing all the theatre and art I wanted to see, how I'm thinking a little differently now about the world, etc. I've gotten a little tired of it, but I always stress how grateful I am, how privileged I feel to have gotten the experience. If I'm with someone I am close to, I mention how although the trip was a dream come true, I wasn't 100% happy all the time -- of course -- because there were moments I thought, "everyone is having fun except for me" "I am doing this whole trip wrong" "I just want to be home" "everyone is pretending to have fun, but really this whole thing is just okay" "this is too stressful" and other negative thoughts. But right now, I have no major regrets about anything, I don't live my life with regrets (actually I wish I hadn't missed my flight in Edinburgh, but I still handled the situation pretty well...)

I wrote a fantastic final paper in my theatre history class summarizing the work I saw, integrated with movement, high on spectacle and theatricality, and how it has impacted my approach to making theatre.

For my history class I heavily researched life while the Berlin wall was up.

I feel as though this trip I learned more about Christianity and its relationship to art than I ever have before. The European perspective on the World Wars in my history class has been helpful in understanding today's situations and seeing how Europe has become what it is since 1914.

There is a moment every day where I stop and think about some moment from my semester and I take the time to be grateful for the trip I had. I can't wait to figure out what was life-changing.
• • •

Paris

I'm really glad I went to Paris. Even though it was two weeks after the attacks, I felt safe. I wasn't going to cancel a trip I would be taking with my friends Suzie and Tim, if we would be travel with them and Suzie's parents.

First of all, the bread was indeed amazing. I could use a good baguette right now.

All my life some people told me Paris was the greatest city in the world, others said it was smelly and the people were mean to tourists.

The city indeed felt romantic and gorgeous. Here's the Saint Chapel in beautifully lit glory.

My friends and I went to a famous cemetery found Oscar Wilde's grave where we recited some of his best quotes.


For theatre we went to see the long-running double-bill of Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and The Lesson at the Théatre de la Huchette.

In looking for a romantic place to sit and write, I found the Anticafé. Here, instead of buying a drink and spending all the time you want working, you pay for the time you spend at the cafe and get all the snacks and drinks you want! Cool stuff.

The Lourve was an overwhelming experience, as I expected it to be. So easy to become lost, and a barrage of religious art that I wanted to get past. I was most struck by Eugène Delacroix. And the Mona Lisa was not that disappointing, as I feel as though I've been set up for being disappointed by its size. Because of the climate of Paris I suppose, there wasn't a huge crowd around the over-hyped painting, and I took my time to appreciate it.

Leaving a taxi, the driver told my friends and I that he was grateful we came to Paris, that following the attacks the city needed tourists to keep the city alive. Police all over the city in fact made me feel safe, getting checked before going into malls or museums, I thought that as a tourist with truly nothing to hide, I could enjoy myself without fear.
• • •