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

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