Thursday, March 6, 2008

It's over, and that's sad. . .

I feel like I'm conquering the jet lag (It's always worse for me coming back home than it is going to Germany.)  We had such a nice trip--this group was a fantastic bunch of troupers.  Nobody complained, nobody got really sick, everyone was helpful!  We saw lots of theater, had a tour of part of Munich, and took excursions to a concentration camp one day and the alps the next.  I believe that this type of intense, focused immersion is one of the best ways to learn.  Through the provocation of theater (and the frequent reminders of the many sides of human nature--ranging from destructive to exploitive, to generous, kind, and good) and through the direct experiencing of a range of emotions, I find myself reflecting and renewing, and I feel reinvigorated.  For me the culture shock is always coming back--hearing people talking (and frequently complaining) at the airport here, experiencing the banality of so many interactions, and overhearing  cell phone conversations that I am trying to block out.  Europe for me is always a sort of refuge from the things that wear me out in daily life--a place where I can sort out some of my priorities, remember why some things are so important to me, and gain perspective on the hectic nature of life in the US.  Despite the constant running around and dashing to catch transportation or get a ticket, I always feel somewhat relaxed in Europe.  The pace there is a little slower.  I can choose to be impatient when waiting in line or waiting for a long red light to change, or I can accept that those times are times to slow down and stop the constant rushing.  It's always nice in Europe to take time for a cup of coffee and have a quiet conversation in a cafe, or to take time to read program notes in a quiet theater before a show starts.  This trip in the middle of the semester always provides a context for understanding and reminding myself how important it is to me to be multi-lingual, to feel as though I really fit in in more than one setting, to know that I can live happily elsewhere, and to know that I can communicate with people whose history and experience are different from my own.  I already miss Germany and am glad for the memories of this trip.

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