Rome

Being in Rome is like being in another country surrounded by another language, but with one significant twist: In Rome, I was immersed in an entirely new world of Catholicism.

It was like this in Costa Rica, too: At first the newness simply clings to the edges of your clothes, occasionally brushing up against your cheek, making itself known to you but not drowning you in its unfamiliarity. After a week or three, your body has adjusted to the altered air, and when you breathe it in, it inflates your entire self, steaming out of your lungs and pervading your entire body. Soon that too becomes electric, your awareness of it at its best; it tingles out of your fingers, nose, toes, and lips, and alters everything you touch or perceive.

It is so magnificent to be changed by something that has radically altered the history of Western Civilization, global politics, art and architecture, and human mentality for almost 2,000 years. And that’s just Christianity and Catholicism. The Roman Empire has been around for thousands of years longer than that.

It doesn’t leave, either. The electricity may lessen, but I am permanently affected by my time in Rome. I spent the entire semester studying the history and culture of Western Civilization while being completely surrounded by it,  but I came back with the knowledge that there is so much I will never know. What a beautifully painful thing to come to realize.

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We did it.

There were times I thought I would never make it to Rome, and while there, there were times I feared I would never make it back. But I went, I did it, and now I’m sitting at a table in my favorite coffee shop in the small town of Midwest City, Oklahoma and writing about it. I never thought I could travel all over Europe, but I did it. It makes me think, what else have I always wanted to do but shoved aside, thinking I never could? I’m going to dig those up, and I’ll make a toast to the next adventure.

Until next time,

it’s good to be home.

Peace.

Kelsie

Languages

The first thing I noticed about both Brussels and then Amsterdam was the incredible diversity in the usage of language. Dutch and French are equally spoken, but the culture is also colored with thick stripes of English, lesser prominent dashes of Italian, German, and even the occasional flecks of Spanish. I took it as a strange sort of compliment to be spoken to in a language other than English.

Knowing even a piece of a language other than your own opens doors to communicating with not only the people who speak said language, but to those who may know just bits and pieces of that language as well. In Madrid, I met a man who was from Portugal. His primary language was Portuguese, but had studied Spanish in school. Even though neither he nor I speak Spanish very fluidly, we were still able to communicate with each other and hold a small conversation.

There is another level to this, too. I came to Italy not speaking a hint of Italian but after taking the quickest-and-miniest crash course on the language, I am now able to read it fairly well due to my knowledge of Spanish. My two languages opened the gateway for a third.

This can go even further. I don’t speak a hint of Dutch, but while in Belgium and the Netherlands, I was able to understand certain words based off my strange assortment of English, Spanish, and Italian. With one deeply rooted language, another fairly strong, and the mere seeds of a third, I was provided with enough to gather up a few little acorns of a fourth language.

The influence of the diversity of the languages on the attitude of the locals in Brussels and Amsterdam was so great. Different cultures are not only accepted, but welcomed. The kindness of the natives was so distinct, and more than once a man offered up his seat on the metro for me and patience was firm as I stumbled along with wide eyes in the new and exciting environment.

It is this wonderful aspect that has left my heart longing to go return to the gentle, beautiful cities and to try with all my strength to learn another language or solidify the ones that I have. Imagine the possibilities for those who can speak 4, 5, 6 languages! The world is open so wide for these, the greatness of diversity and knowledge is heavy in their arms. It gives people a sense of security knowing the ability to vocally communicate is there.

So go and learn a few words in that language you’ve been waiting for just the right moment to learn. You’ll be surprised where it can take you.

I’ll leave you all with one last thought: Eat all the Belgian waffles you can.

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