Most students returning from Austria will tell you similar things: “It was a great semester.” “It feels so weird being back.” “I’m still processing.” It was no different for me. As soon as I was home and waking up in my bed, the whole experience felt like a dream. Had I even left?
I do not recommend wine tasting when you have a cold. However, like in matters, I did not heed my own advice, and went to a wine tasting in Assisi with a cold.
There were about 30 of us packed into a little basement, wine bottles stacked in rows on the wall, and the door propped open to let in air. On the table, meats and cheeses were spilling off of wooden platters, a basket of bread and a cup of small forks in between. Each person was given two wine glasses.
For those of you who don’t know, I recently returned from a semester abroad in Gaming, Austria – Franciscan University’s study abroad program. I also blogged about it here if you are interested in reading more about that experience. To sum it up, it was the semester of a lifetime.
This last week and a half, all the students studying abroad at the Kartause this semester traveled to Rome and Assisi for a pilgrimage put on by the University. Rome and Assisi – I can’t think of two better places for a Franciscan student to travel to on pilgrimage.
During a semester in Austria every student has the opportunity to travel almost every weekend. Since classes are 4 days a week, you have 3 days to travel each weekend. On top of those weekends, there are two 10-day breaks: one break that you can travel and plan with other students and one break that is organized by the school, the Rome & Assisi Pilgrimage.
This semester I am blessed to be studying at Franciscan University’s study abroad program in the foothills of the Alps at the Kartause in Gaming, Austria. When people told me about the program it was a little bit difficult for me to picture, so the picture to the left is hopefully worth 1,000 words.
I have been in Perugia one week now, and I have to say this experience is nothing like I expected! Better or worse, you ask? Well to be perfectly honest it is neither. It is just different!
The end of my semester abroad in Gaming.
I can’t believe it.
So much has happened this semester. I’ve done so many new things, seen so many beautiful places, made so many new friends, and encountered the Lord in a profound way in my life.
In 17 very short days, my feet will land on American soil for the first time in 4 months. I hate to be that person who’s all sappy and sentimental at the end of the semester, but I ‘m going to be. My semester in Austria has been the hardest and the best semester of my life all at the same time. I haven’t quite nailed down all the details of how I’ve changed, but I’m not the same woman I was when I stepped through the doors of the Pittsburgh airport in January.
Holy Week seems to be a fitting time to reflect on one of the biggest lessons I have learned in Austria thus far.
The Miriam Webster dictionary defines trust as the “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc”. And this is of course true, but the richness of our Christian tradition enlightens our understanding of trust, making it more expansive.