Friday, August 5, 2011

Pivot Point: Forward and Back

Some things I'm going to miss about Europe:

- Coffeehouse/Café culture. I'm usually a slow eater when I'm with people, but tend to rush more through meals by myself. In Europe, I've learned the value of slowing down and enjoying the meal, the atmosphere, and the company. 

- Pedestrian access. I think that because (1) Vienna is a big city, (2) gas is really expensive in Europe and (3) Austrians are very energy-conservative, they really make things accessible without needing to use a car. The system of subways, streetcars and buses is kind of complicated sometimes and takes a long time, but it's better than the alternatives. There's also distinct sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, and jaywalking is pretty much verboten, which helps pedestrian safety. 

- Making everything beautiful. The architecture, public gardens, and the lifestyle with my host mom are examples of this. A lot of times in the US, things are strictly functional, and aesthetics are considered unnecessary or extravagant. If you need to build something, you might as well make it so that it looks good. And if you need to take a little extra time or money to do it... It's worth it to stretch yourself a little. Beauty, in its many forms and interpretations, inspires the loftier parts of human nature.

- The food. There's delicious food everywhere in the world, and I've thoroughly enjoyed sampling the Austrian variety. I think they have more kinds of bread, cheese, and spreads here than in the US, and definitely a wider variety of nicer chocolate. I'll love having my own kitchen back, but I'll miss some of the food we eat here. 

- More than anything else, I'm going to miss people. I'll miss the fun and meaningful relationships I've had with my roommates, other students, and teachers. I'll miss even more the people who I won't have an opportunity to see when I go back to school this fall. I pray and hope that I'll come back to Europe, but I don't know for sure that I'll see my Austrian friends again. Thank goodness for facebook, skype, and other methods of communication. What can I say? They're more than just casual acquaintances that I've encountered in my two months, they are friends who I care about. I want them to be happy and to be successful, and if they are having a hard time, I feel pained for them and want to help. I feel blessed and privileged to have known such amazing people in my time here; I've learned so much from them. 

Things I'm looking forward to in the States:

- MY FAMILY!!!! I haven't seen them for 8 months. I might have the chance to go home for a week (I haven't been to my hometown for a year), and while I won't pine away if I can't see my family before Christmas... I'm really, really, really excited to hopefully see them. It's my family, and they are the most important thing to me next to my faith. It's been too long since I've been with them; they're a part of me.

- Having my own apartment back. I'll be so happy to have my bed, and my room, and my kitchen, and my fridge... I'll have to pay for laundry again, but at least I can do my own laundry on my own timetable. I'll be able to do my own grocery shopping again too. Yeah, I'll be limited to walking distance again since public transport isn't as good or accessible, but having my place and my sense of independence - having my own life back- is going to be a nice welcome-home kind of feeling. 

- My friends. With school starting again, my friends are regathering back to our college town after visits home, internships, and this year, a lot of guys I know are coming back from serving LDS missions. It'll be wonderful to be together with my best friends again, enjoy each other's company, and support each other in the crazy ups and downs of life. It'll also be interesting to see how people have changed since I saw them last, and to see what people I meet this semester.

I'm not done in Vienna yet, but these are my thoughts right now. It's going to be a schizophrenic week, with times of intense stress and relaxation/enjoyment, but hey, the days will go by with or without my permission. I need to make sure I rely heavily on Heavenly Father, because I can't stay sane or feel peace without Him. When I stop being blockheaded and trying to do things on my own, and get myself back into the scriptures, I'm able to feel so much more peace and happiness than otherwise. I'm so glad that the gospel of Jesus Christ is here to help me get through life in the best, most fulfilling, gratifying, learned-some way possible. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Christ's church here today. I testify that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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