The prospect of writing this essay is a bit daunting. There are so many aspects of my trip that deserve mention, but communicating the experiences in a manner that does them justice is a task I’m not sure I’m up for. After all, how do you explain the friendships made, the things learned, the growth and the maturation to anyone who didn’t have the same adventure? Is it enough to list your favorite activities and most vivid memories? Does that not leave out the amazing emotions of my Abbey Road experience?
I don’t know. I hope I can capture the feeling I get when I daydream about wandering through the Louvre or gazing at the Sistine Chapel, but if I can’t, please at least understand that this trip was something extremely special for me. A lot of the great parts of Western Civ had nothing to do with the teaching, the excursions, or the curriculum. To be sure, the lessons were fantastic – both informative and riveting. However, it was the people that made the experience. Walking around Paris trying to find food that everyone liked, or getting along with roommates who weren’t always quite as interested in making the room livable as you were, these were the times that true growth happened.
What my instructors did was not so much create the adventure – they simply fostered an environment that let us make our own memories. By making our trip conducive to fun, education, and maturation, my teachers helped me create an experience that I will not soon forget. One fantastic thing that Western Civ was able to do was cater to everyone’s individual interests. Some people went on the trip to see the sights, and see them they did: from the Acropolis to the Duomo to l’Arc de Triomphe, each city we went to was chock full of tours of incredible places of interest.
Others came to learn about the story of Western Civilization; for them, we had nightly readings and discussions about Hellenistic art, Renaissance philosophy, and everything in between. And a few people just came to have some fun; the trips to the beach and the Discotheque (a place way cooler than the name makes it sound) were enough excitement to satiate everyone. However, Western Civ wasn’t just about making everyone comfortable. The teachers pushed us, whether that meant offering our own opinion in our weekly symposiums or trying the food that we never thought we would, and in so doing, made us learn more about ourselves.
Of course, Western Civilization was about more than a good time – it was about sharing a life experience with 23 other individuals. We began as strangers and ended (mostly) as friends. I thank Abbey Road for everything my four weeks in Europe had to offer. Though there were ups and downs, they all contributed to a journey that will forever define my summer and be a part of the experiences of my youth. Thank you so much.