The month of March was one of the busiest but most memorable months I have ever had. Each weekend I traveled around Europe, going to Nice, Florence, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and finally Paris. At each location, I found myself absorbed in completely different cultures. With each culture I encountered, I broadened my understanding of not just the world around me, but my understanding of myself as a person. Many people travel to these cities and see all the main sites, which I did as well; but what I took away mostly were the small things I saw, which are imprinted in my memory forever.
The first weekend of March I visited Nice, France, which I must say is a beautiful city. The rock beach compliments this city perfectly. I also took a day trip to Monaco, and saw Monte Carlo, the most amazing city I have ever seen. It is so grandiose and over the top. I visited the Monte Carlo casino where I was stunned by how elegant and regal this casino (palace) was. Better than all of these sites though, occurred on the last day when I was sitting on the rock beach relaxing. I was looking out into the ocean, almost day dreaming, when I noticed a young girl, maybe four, throwing stones into the water. She had no cares, no fears. Her only worry was getting the next rock and seeing how far she can throw it. She continued this for about forty-five minutes, laughing the entire time. The site of this young girl having more fun than anyone on the beach really put in perspective what I sometimes forget; life is all about the little things. It is about enjoying every single moment of your life and not worrying so much about the future.
The next weekend I visited a friend in Florence. This city revealed a more relaxed side of Italy that I rarely see in Rome. The town is considerably smaller. I saw sites like The Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio, which is beautiful. I also took a day trip to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower, which leaned much more than I imagined. It does not even look safe. My friend took me to Piazzale del Michelangelo. We watched the sun go down on the hill which over looks all of Florence. We stayed up there for about two hours and only left because it was so cold. The view was breathtaking. Sitting on that hill, I felt as if nothing else mattered. It was truly a scene I will never forget.
The third weekend of March my friend and I visited Barcelona, which quickly became my favorite city in Europe, besides Rome of course. I stayed there for five days and every day I spent hours walking around the city. My friend and I walked well over twenty miles. We saw unique sites such as the Segrada Familia, the Torre Agbar, and Parc Guell which held a number of interesting works from the architect Gaudi. At the Parc Guell I witnessed this extravagant reggae band who had synchronized movements and played very well. I sat there and listened to them for nearly thirty minutes. This band was not playing for a huge crowd, or had a huge record deal, but they loved what they did and you could clearly tell. It amazed me how this band got so much joy from just playing in front a group of ten people.
March was truly an amazing time. It felt like one giant trip. I must admit, though, after all that traveling I definitely began to miss Rome a lot. I feel like Rome is my home now and as I was traveling I was getting homesick, but not for my American home. All this traveling has really made me cherish the small things in life. It showed me that I should take a step back sometimes and just enjoy the moment. It is a lesson I certainly will carry back to America with me.
Christian – University of South Carolina