I would have to say that the Crowds, Culture and Cuisine Paideia 2 class was probably one of the best experiences of my life so far. I had never had the chance to spend any extended amount of time abroad before this and I have a wish that any student should be able spend time studying or traveling in another country. It’s one of the most enriching opportunities anyone can have because it forces you to step out of your comfort zone and really experience a different part of the world through your eyes without the aid of some sort of technological medium (whether it be a news program or reddit). There is something much more rewarding about first hand knowledge and physically being in a foreign place. It is also sometimes overwhelming when you realize that you may have be standing in a spot that many millions of people have stood hundreds of years preceding you and helps one foster or create a connection with human history. This is definitely the case with cities such as Rome or Florence when walking inside the Colosseum, Pantheon or touring the inside of the Duomo. The history of these places are vast have been an important part of many peoples lives, past and present.
Compared to the US, Europe is just an older place and everywhere you stroll there is some building or form of architecture that has been present in that particular spot for much longer than the US has even been functioning. Some aqueducts from the Roman Empire are still in use today which is incredible to me because someone had the ingenuity and the brain power needed to create something that really passes the test of time. This is in stark contrast to the US where it’s completely normal to discard an old building or road and replace it with something else that may only be used very temporarily. In Rome and France, I saw less brand new construction and more renovation and preservation of the past. The past is much more important to Europe because, simply put, there’s just more of it to observe. US history doesn’t exist before the 1700’s.
If I were to pick a favorite city that we visited, I’d have to say Lyon, France. There is just something about the place that makes me want to go back and stay a bit longer. Make it was the walk down from the Notre-Dame de Fourvière, through the winding streets, to the ancient Roman amphitheater. Or maybe it was the winding way down to the tiny sandwich shop that made me the best hot dog I’ve ever had. I swear, this hot dog was so good, with its crunchy baguette, spicy dijon mustard and savory cheese, that it brought tears to my eyes. I must have looked like an idiot standing in the street, completely captivated by a hot dog. This memory is probably the most vivid from the trip, probably due to the extreme hunger I felt in my stomach before my meal.
From it’s scenic views, old winding streets, easily accessible metro system, engaging history and people, Lyon is probably one of the best cities I’ve ever been to. I look forward to the day I can return to Europe and really experience fully the areas we visited with no time constraints or responsibilities. It’s safe to say that I left a part of my soul in Europe; maybe it’s somewhere hanging out with my lost glasses (that’s the last time I take a pair of glasses to a karaoke bar).