Gold and Stone

One of the most interesting parts of this trip has been to witness the role that religion has played in Europe. From the Begijnhof to the Cathedral, the reminders of hundreds of years of religious devotion are still blatantly evident. But unlike the Begijnhof, some of testaments tell a story of greed, wealth, and power rather than faith and love.

In Amsterdam and Brugge, we saw a section of the city set aside to care for those who needed protection from the outside world, widows and orphans. They were secluded safe havens to care for the neglected. This was perhaps the single most purely Christian example that we saw. In just about every city that we stopped in, towering steeples stood out as testaments to an age gone when the Church was revered. For the most part I loved these buildings. While they may often have been grander than was necessary, their size and ornateness could be read as a tribute to God. Over the course of the trip though, I began to wonder how much was really meant for God’s glory. In Heidelberg we visited a castle that was once the property of a protestant king. It was besieged and burned down by the invading catholic army. I had read about the prosecution of Protestants as an impetus in the founding of America, but I never read that to mean war. I must have learned about the wars at some point, but things get far more real when you stand in the ruins. In Wittenberg we toured the Luther’s house; a reminder of indulgences and the enormous wealth that the Catholic Church reaped over that. In Prague, we saw the 1100 kg pure silver casket of a sanctified priest. He had disagreed with the pope and after heeding the pope’s summons was weighed down with stones and thrown in the river. After hearing these stories, the gilded cathedrals felt far darker. I am not trying to assault Catholicism or the Vatican, it is just sad to reflect on a history. Christianity was supposed to bring light, but our legacy is intertwined with war, greed, murder, and cruelty. Even though the gold in the cathedrals may have been our fault, the stones still stand as proof of hundreds of generation’s walks with God. That is where I found their beauty.


It’s 1 a.m. I’m sitting in the lobby of our hotel, trying to fill a blog post about the gilding cathedrals instead of feeding the poor, but I really haven’t done my research. Instead I want to talk about how this trip has gone. I guess my laziness is coming out again. Even Wikipedia would probably have been enough, but this trip is such an incredible experience.
Today, I sat on a tank. Yesterday, I toured a collection of 700 year old bishop clothes, and polished the day off by again deciding that I am not a huge fan of beer in a German pub. The day before… I can’t even remember what we did the day before. Wait! I think we watched heavy machinery stamp out door panels at the Mercedes-Benz plant. Before that day, I saw the Berlin wall with a gaping hole in the middle; a testament that humanity can get its act together. I climbed tower after tower, from Delft to Brugge to Paris to Ulm (still can’t believe that thing exists. it’s actually insane). I have seen gas chambers and the a cemetery that stand as a reminder that humanity did not bow to the whim of that madman. I have toured castles and rivers and museums and churches and cities. I have seen some of the greatest works of art in the span of human history and the artifacts of peoples that I have read about since childhood. At every turn, I have been confronted with, well, life. Life that spans back thousands of years. It is hard to describe what I feel or exactly what I am thinking, but I guess it is an acceptance of time. Back home, life feels so fixated on the world ending now, or at least very soon. There is very little past, and even less planning for the distant future. I am getting tired now, but I really don’t want to sleep.
I love the time of night when everyone else has gone to bed. In this time, I feel free to think with the endless hours of comforting night spread out before me. I wish that I could master this moment. Freeze it and share it. The dull light of the closed hotel lobby; the mixture of antique and modern furniture scattered about the room. The impending sense of departure for normal life. But this is my struggle. I wish so desperately that time did not span before me and beyond me. I wish that these moments would return someday. I wish that I ‘could relive my childhood summers, my vacations with all the family, the time spent diving off one tree and under another in the Merced river, the fun times of high school, or those moments when all the world’s answers seem to spring forward from the murky mess of reality. But I can’t. Those moments are gone. Just like this moment will pass. By the time you read this, I will be back in G.R. Probably sound asleep.
That has been this trip. A string of incredible moments that drift away in the rushing current of time. It sounds sad, and I regret their loss, but these moments do not compose my life. I will never live out these moments again, but I hope to visit these places again. Maybe then I can glimpse these old moments just long enough to let them go and to let the new ones sink in.

Across the Atlantic, The Old and the New

After 3 weeks of touring Europe, I am back in my home country.  The greatest difference that I could see between The United States and the European countries was age.  The places we went were ancient.  Our country is just starting out in the world.

Seeing ancient Roman ruins or churches nearly 1,000 years old fills you with a sense of awe and humility.  It forces you to realize the shear number of people that have come before, and the shoulders we stand on to be where we are today.

I was struck by an seemingly paradoxical observation.  Europe is a testament to how mankind can fight and make war with each other, and how they can make lasting peace and fruitful progress.  Virtually every nation or people group have been at war with one another at some point in the long history of Europe.  You would think these people would still maintain these grudges, but instead, now most of them are unified under the same flag of the European Union and now seek to make peace, not war.  In the big picture, I think this is a powerful statement that demonstrates mankind’s fallen nature and their ability to change for the better.

The United States is certainly a leading (if not the leader) country in the world, but compared to the history and culture of Europe, we are just babes.

“So how’d your trip go?”

Over the past few days, I’ve been asked that question a lot. And how I’ve answered it depends on the person, some want pictures, some want a outline of where you’ve visited, some want the exciting highlights, and some want to hear about the famous sights. But with 2000 pictures, a three week tour, exciting bits  you just had to be there for, and uncountable famous sights; its hard to fit it into a nice short summary. But that’s why its good to sort through it. While I’ve been retelling the experiences we had, it’s a time for me to process what I want to remember and what I think are some of the unneeded memories. It’s similar to the process  I’m going to have sorting through my trip pictures. Some are more meaningful to me, and some I have to question why I took that picture in the first place. So as I reflect, like many of my trip mates, it’s a time to take inventory and figure out what memories you’re going to take with you, and what is just another deleted picture.

Back in the good ole US of A

I’m back…

It has been nearly a month since I last set foot in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While commons lawn looks familiarly covered in snow, I am to a degree different. A lot has happened since I left on the second of January. I have been to 5 (or 6 depending on how you count) different countries and over 20 European cities. That is a lot seeing as I had previously never set foot on the European continent.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I feel extremely blessed to have been able to be part of it! In retrospect, I am especially thankful for the careful planning that went into it beforehand as well as the unique blend of people that were a part of it. It was a luxury to be able to simply get on the bus and not have to think about where we were going next. I could rest in the fact that I was in good hands. The historian/tour guide, that also drove our bus, named Joop single handedly made the trip for me. He never ceased to pull insightful details and interesting historical narratives out of his memory when we arrived at a new city.
I can hardly believe all of the places I went to. A few highlights include: the rambunctious amalgamation of a city called Amsterdam, the gingerbread-esque village of Brugge in Belgium, the city of unprecedented scale/size in Paris, the cobble-stoned city of Prague and the not so divided city of Berlin.
I learned a number of things on the trip. For starters, I learned a ton of history. Perhaps my favorite historical site was the museum Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, Germany. The museum told the story of countless individuals that engineered ways of escape out of Eastern Germany. My favorite story was that of a man who refused to let the Berlin wall separate him from his wife.
As the first component of his escape he created a wet-suite from a couple of old motorcycle jackets. Then he created and attached a sail to an inflatable kayak which I presume he also constructed. He then launched and sailed his kayak through the blind spot of two of East Berlin’s watch towers. He sailed into the night and straight into a ferocious storm. After battling 10ft waves and bailing out his nearly submerged kayak 9 times, he was rescued by a cruise ship, brought to safety on the West side, and promptly reunited with his wife.

This is just one story of the many I learned on the trip. It is incredible to me that so much history has happened in Europe without me knowing about it! This trip, or if you prefer experience, has helped me realize how much of the world I do not know. The reality is, this world is neither majority white nor western. All in all, I am blessed to have been part of the trip and I believe it has helped me better understand my place in the world.

Cheers to increased understanding,


This trip was definitely one to remember that is for sure. Although near the end of the trip i kind of got sick of unpacking and packing and unpacking and packing it was definitely worth it because of how much we saw. I never thought i would be able to hit 8 different countries within one month. Traveling with the group for 3 weeks and having our free time really helped me, Lorin, and Abbie get ready for our adventure by ourselves. I learned how to use the subways, look at maps, and even be able to walk all over the cities and speak to the locals of so many different languages. My favorite city would probably have to be France. I have always wanted to go there and everything we saw just was so amazing– especially the Eiffel Tower at night, just nothing could beat it. I haven’t been one to like history so much but after going on this trip i find myself way more interested in it. I definitely plan on coming back to Europe someday to travel around a little more. Also after being in Rome and Athens I would definitely recommend people to go there– they are both gorgeous cities that i really enjoyed! I had a great time with everyone in our group, I don’t think we could have had a better mix of people and personalities.


Trip Reflections

Now, back in America, I have finally had the time to reflect on the incredible journey we took in Europe.  Looking back, it is surprising how many places we were able to visit in only three weeks. Nearly everyday we were on the move in the bus heading to new cities and exploring Europe.

I would definitely like to make highlights of the trip. Beginning in Amsterdam was a perfect way to start the trip. The city was a good transition from America to Europe since almost everybody spoke English and were super friendly. Amsterdam was so alive on the streets with bikers everywhere and so many people walking around. Seeing the storm barriers  in the Netherlands was also very cool and showed their engineering feats in relation to water. The city of Brugge, Belgium was my favorite small town and was very quaint and well lit at night. Visiting Paris was amazing and something I have always wanted to do. Seeing the Eiffel Tower at night, viewing the catacombs, walking through the Louvre, and touring this city rich with history were highlights. Southern Germany seemed to be all about the castles with Neushwanstein castle, the Alps, and Munich as notable destinations. It was also very cool visiting Prague which had so many amazing old buildings and a certain Eastern Europe vibe no other place could offer. Berlin also was rich with history from many time periods from the kings, WWII, and the Cold War. Finally, visiting all the war memorials , museums, and the concentration camp was very sobering, and they gave me the greatest respect for our men in service who are truly heroes for us and the entire world.

This trip also provided me the opportunity to meet and make many new friends both from Calvin and even from Europe. I enjoyed spending time with people from the group and learning more about them during our travels. I also enjoyed talking to the locals and hearing their perspective on life.

I also discovered a few pros and cons for living in Europe compared to America. Some pros include public transportation, everything being within a walkable distance, emphasis on learning many languages, and a more laid back life. During our final group dinner with our tour guide bus driver Joop, we asked him what he thought was the major difference between life in America and Europe. He said that Americans live to work while Europeans work to live. While cliche, I overall believe this to be true and will hope to apply this way of living more often. Some of the cons to Europe are no free water or refills, paying for bathroom use, and the people being generally more reserved.

In conclusion, I would like this chance to extend my hand of gratitude towards Prof. Brouwer, Prof. Plaisier, and our driver Joop. I would like to say thank you for all your efforts in making this trip the incredible experience it indeed was. Without your efforts, this amazing trip would not be possible. This trip through Europe with friends was a once in a lifetime experience and one I will never forget.

Ross Tenney

Final Trip Reflections

After having spent three weeks in Europe, there are a few things I am thankful to have in the United States that I had previously taken for granted, and there are a few things that I think we can learn from Europe. First, I am thankful to have free water in the United States. For the most part, wherever you went in Europe, you had to pay for water, and oftentimes it cost as much as beer or soda. In addition, there are virtually no drinking fountains in Europe. This made me appreciate the fact that we have cheap/free water here in the United States. Another thing that I enjoy having in the United States is free bathrooms. In Europe, if you wanted to use a bathroom, you either had to pay for it or you had to buy something from a restaurant that had a bathroom. Again, it is nice to have free bathrooms in the United States.

There are also a few things that I think Europe does better than the United States. One major difference between the United States and Europe is quality. In Europe, quality is emphasized in almost everything, from the meals to the production line to the businesses. For example, when buying a Coke at a meal, you would oftentimes be given the drink in a glass Coke bottle and then given another nice glass to pour the drink into. In the United States, however, you oftentimes are given a paper cup to drink out of. It seems that while Europe stresses having good quality in everything, the United States stresses having the cheapest products with okay quality. I think that one of the things we can learn from Europe is having a little better quality in various aspects of society.

~Paul Griffioen

Highlights and Reflections

As I began to think about what my favorite part of the trip was, I realized I could not narrow it down to just one. Some of my favorite cities were Brugge, Belgium; Paris, France; and Amsterdam, Netherlands. I loved the quaintness and old-European feel in Brugge. Everything was within walking distance and we were able to see most of the city. In Paris, the highlight for me was seeing the Eiffel Tower. It was even more beautiful than I expexted, especially at night when it glittered. The subway system in Paris was also very nice and allowed us to explore the city easier. I liked Amsterdam because it was different than the other cities we visited. The many bridges and similar buildings gave the city a distinct look. I enjoyed every city we visited, but these three stood out to me.

Before this trip I had never been to Europe, and through traveling with a group throughout Europe for 3 weeks I learned a lot. I became more familiar with the different cultures and customs in Europe as well as adjusting to the language barrier. This experience has definitely prepared me for future travel. Reflecting on this trip I am amazed at how many cities and cool places we got to visit. I loved traveling with this group of people and the professors who made it all possible!

Differences between Europe and America

Differences between Europe and America

Language: from the Europeans I met, I found out most of them are fluent with three or more languages while Americans can normally speak two. This is definitely an advantage for Europe. However, we cannot blame Americans too much on this since most neighbor countries only speak Spanish. European languages are also somewhat close to each other, which makes it easier to learn. One important thing I want to mention is how much Europeans emphasize language. During our visits to some companies, the speaker always told us how important to be fluent with a foreign language. I especially remember one company; they had costumers around the world so they hired staff that could speak their native languages.

Cities: it was a lot of fun being in a European city. They are usually big and packed, but this also makes it convenient for us to travel. Most cities have bike passes and they ride crazy. Even though some cities are huge, in order to protect the old buildings, they tend not to build skyscrapers. Free bathrooms are rare to see.

Water: sparkling water is a common thing in Europe. In Germany, I couldn’t drink water directly from the sink so I boiled it. However, I saw incrustations floating in my water after boiling. I went to grocery store to buy water in the end.

Biggest Surprises

I think the biggest surprise for me on the trip was how many different cities we actually visited while we were there. Looking at it on paper, it seemed like we had a decently busy schedule, visiting a lot of countries and cities in such a short time. But actually being there, I was pleasantly surprised how many different places we went. It seemed like most days we stopped in 2 or 3 different places. Having never been to Europe before, I really appreciated this. While we never stayed in any one place for a particularly long time, we were able to get a good overall picture of the different countries we went to, because we got a little taste of everything in each place. Even on our designated travel days, we would stop in one city for lunch and at least one or two others before reaching our hotel for the night.

The other big surprise was how much free time we actually had. I also really enjoyed this because this gave us the opportunity to do and see what we wanted to, so we all got what we wanted out of the trip and out of the cities we were in.

– Jonathan Filippini

Some thoughts about Holocaust Memorial and Museum

Some thoughts about Holocaust Memorial and Museum

I especially want to write about this since I feel I learn the most there.

We arrived at the Holocaust Memorial in a foggy and rainy morning. There was a huge square with many concrete cuboids standing in rows. As I walked toward the center of the square, the ground started to become steep and cuboids were getting taller. It was so dark. I turned around and couldn’t see anyone since I was surrounded by the cuboids. I feel this memorial fits perfectly to the atmosphere of the museum because I felt overwhelmed and desperate by the enormous concrete cuboids.

Then we went into the museum. There were a lot of readings and images to explain what happened. One thing that surprised me was the museum focused a lot on individuals even though there were six million people died. There were phones I could pick up to hear survivors tell stories themselves. The first story impressed me the most. The mother was sent to Auschwitz with grandmother and two sons; one was six and the other was ten. They were being separated into two lines. The mother could clearly tell one line was for labor since they were all young and strong people, but she didn’t know what the other line was about. The German selector ordered her to the labor line and her younger son to the other line. Then the selector wanted to order his older son to the labor line since he was big for his age. She didn’t want her older son to work, so she asked the selector if the older son and grandmother could go to the other line. The selector agreed. In fact, the other line was to the gas chamber. The mother became the only survivor of her family but suffered the pain for the rest of her life. The way the museum focused so much on individuals just brought the holocaust more vivid. This was only one story but the pain was already so overwhelmed. Thinking about similar story was repeated six million times, the emotion was so strong that I couldn’t even express my feelings.



Final Thoughts of Europe 2015

Now that I’ve been home for three days and the events over the past three weeks are still fresh in my mind, it’s interesting going over all the differences between the United States and Europe. Many people on this blog have already elaborated on these differences, but I thought I would give my own insight on them as well.

The first difference between life here in the United States and Europe is the amount of walking that is done. Many people in Europe are found in major cities, where walking can be done to take care of most everyday things. For example, in order to find food, you would not have to hop in your car and drive five miles to a grocery store. Chances are in Europe, you can walk ten to fifteen minutes to find most groceries. Here in America, I need to drive about five miles to buy basic groceries.

A second difference between Europe and the United States is that the amount of biking done in Europe is far greater than the amount done in the United States. The one city in Europe where this can be clearly seen is Amsterdam. Here, the bikers contribute to the traffic of the city more than cars or buses. There are bike lanes separate from the actual road to ensure the safety of the bikers. However, when it comes to right of way, bikers usually are in control of the flow traffic. Personally, I thought that the bikers were making the flow of traffic much more chaotic and that it could be simplified using just public transportation. However, that’s simply because I’m not used to the way people move about the city in Europe.

A final difference between Europe and the United States is the use of public transportation. When greater distances need to be travelled and riding a bike is not an option, the use of street rail cars, busses, or subways is an effective and relatively cheap way to travel. During our time in Europe, we often took advantage of the public transportation systems as it was the only way to view multiple parts of a particular city within a given day. If I where to live in a city the size of Amsterdam, Paris, or Berlin, I could see myself using bike and subways to move around the city. It seems that the use of a car solely within the city does not make any sense from an economic standpoint or environmental standpoint.

This trip to Europe was fantastic, and I probably will never again go on a trip with this much adventure and exploration. Professor Brouwer and Professor Plaisier certainly put together a trip of a lifetime. I am very grateful for this opportunity and will never forget this trip.

Final Thoughts

Looking back at all of the traveling and the questions that people are asking me about Europe, I have come to the conclusion that my favorite place that we stayed at was Amsterdam. There was so much to see in that city and the people there have so many different views on life than I do. The people there were so friendly and always helpful if you had any questions on directions. It was also great because everybody that I ran into spoke english (unlike in Paris) and always tried to help you out. The amount of bicycles there was unreal. I have never seen anything like it in my life and I never expect to see it again unless I go back there some day. It was strange how the bicyclists seemed to dominate the road. Pedestrians and even cars and taxis had to watch out for them because they were absolutely fearless. If I had to pick one city to go back to later in life, I would definitely choose to go back to Amsterdam hands down.

Favorite Place

After looking back on the trip and reflecting on all the places we were able to go to, I have decided on a few of my favorite places and favorite things we were able to do.

My favorite city we visited was Brugge, Belgium.I loved the little bridges and the quaintness of the city. The first night we were there, it was misty and foggy which made the scenery look extremely cool. The lighting on the buildings mixed with the fog and mist made for a really cool scene. We took a walking tour of Brugge as well and it was incredible to see what the city had to offer.

My favorite activity that I did on the trip happened on one of the last days of the trip. We were in Bremen and I really wanted to see a soccer stadium while on this trip. A group of guys including myself took a walk to Werder Bremen’s soccer stadium in hopes to take a stadium tour. Unfortunately there were no tour guides available, however we were told that the first team was currently training. As a soccer player myself I was really excited to watch the team train and see the way professionals play in person. We watched them train for about an hour and a half and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Overall the trip was incredible and I am extremely happy that I took this opportunity to go on the trip.

-Nick Groenewold


After being back home for a few days, I have really begun to appreciate all of the awesome things we saw on our trip. Obviously I appreciated them while I was there, but after seeing so many cool things so quickly its hard to remember what I saw from one day to the next. I am really glad to be home, and I don’t thing I could ever live in Europe, but it was an awesome trip and an awesome place to travel. Looking through pictures of the concentration camp and some of the museums we went to really made me appreciate how many amazing things we saw while in Europe. Some day I really hope to get back there and revisit my favorite things and explore even more of the history throughout Europe.

Growing pains in Prague

Looking back on our trip, I’d like to share some observations I had while in the Czech city of Prague.  Prague was the first city we went to in the Eastern Bloc, and the differences were palpable.  Loudspeakers and cameras left over as relics from Soviet rule still hung on light posts, and Prague had a very different “feel” to it than other cities we went to.  Unfortunately, most of Prague was touristy and sterile.  It took effort and an excellent tour guide to help us find “old Prague”- somewhere I never would’ve found by myself.

Prague has an interesting history that directly contributes to how the city feels.  After Soviets took over in 1948, they stamped out all of Czechoslovakia’s  Bohemian ethnic group and culture.  The “Bohemian Empire” that the Czech people were so proud of was smothered by communist rule.  After privatization in 1993, the Czech Republic was immediately colonized by Western companies and Prague became a tourist city.  The vacuum left after privatization was filled so quickly with touristy stuff that the Czech people didn’t have a chance to reestablish the Bohemianism they had before.

Despite this, glimmers of a Prague that once was still shine through the touristy facade.  Going to places like the Lennon Wall and Czech art installations over the city gives me hope that Prague will recover its quirky and counter-cultural identity.

Something different in Europe

After the weekends after trips, I starts to reflect what I learned from this trips.Compared with US, many things are different in Europe, culturally or habitually. Some are different in church ritual. In the most European churches we visited, communion provides shared cup of wine instead of individual cups. Even in the English church service we attended, the ritual seems to be longer and slightly different than in states.

What surprised some of us are that most German business does not run on Sunday except some stores in the train stations. Their law considered sabbath into their law. Compared with US, I felt it is quite interesting since the secularism is increasing in Europe. US has a quite high Christian population but still run business on Sunday. This difference is little bit interesting.

What make me miss a lot in Europe is the cheap drink options and free restroom. Due the historical reasons of drinking water in Europe, many countries developed their beer and even now it is not common for people to choose normal drinking water. Since the budget limits of the trip, it is hard to pick something to drink for the meal. During the time I really want to just get some normal water to drink. In addition, in the Europe the free bathroom is quite hard to find except in some museums. I never need to worry about it.

Based on my observation, almost all the European countries we visited used more small vehicle . And in many car stores I visited, the small vehicles are showed in some main area of exhibition and it makes me feel that they are important parts of their sales. Instead of using huge vehicles to carry many people, nice public transportation systems were well developed in these countries. Even in some small city in Europe, they also had their own public transportation systems. I felt it is really convenient and Eco-friendly.

In the Germany, bottle fees are pre-charged to every recyclable bottle. If people do not recycle, they will lose a lot of money from it. So I always saw people go to recycle bottles. Overall, European has a better conscience of recycling and saving.

I think what European did is related to the fact that they have relatively small amount of natural resources compared with US. But I think it is really good to use this sustainable lifestyle. I think this lifestyle can save a lot of resources and the future generation also can get benefits from it.

The Eiffel Tower

After much consideration I’ve come to the conclusion that the Eiffel Tower was my favorite part of the trip. The first time we saw it we were driving into Paris when we bursted out from behind a building to feast our eyes on the magnificence of the tower. A sense of awe filled the bus, even though it was still far off in the distance. Soon after, Joop dropped us off near it to take a closer look at it. I had seen it plenty of times before in pictures, movies, books, etc,  but when I saw it in person the size and realness of it revealed a beauty about it that only the naked eye can behold. It was truly as amazing as everyone says it is. The next day we took an elevator up to the second platform where we had a nice 360 view of Paris. Later that day Ross, Dan and I decided to see it at night. You might already know this but at night the Eiffel Tower sparkles for the first ten minutes of every hour. So we ran to the top of a nearby ledge to see the sparkles in time. The sparkles were pretty, but the tower was beautiful enough without them. We ended up looking at it until about the next wave of sparkles. It was the only sight or attraction that I visited three times and spent 20 Euro on (for a painting, see below). The trip had so many highlights, it was very hard to choose my favorite part. In conclusion, I will always remember the memories I made on the 2015 Europe Interim Trip. Thanks for reading!

Eiffel Tower Painting


After returning home to Grand Rapids and reflecting on the past few weeks, I’ve realized how lucky we all were to go on the trip of a lifetime in Europe. Before this trip, I had never really left the country and experienced different cultures. I have always lived in West Michigan and lived in the Christian Reformed “bubble”. I feel as if we are extremely sheltered at Calvin College, and this trip allowed us all to get out of the bubble and experience the real world. I am extremely grateful for the life I have been blessed with, but also think that we need to take advantage of the opportunities to escape this bubble every chance we get.

I would like to thank everyone that made this trip possible and thank my professors and colleagues for making this trip unforgettable. Over the course of the trip, I became even better friends with the people I already knew, but one of the coolest parts of the trip was the new people I met. I formed many lifelong relationships that I may have not made if I were not to go on this trip.