Over the past few weeks, I’ve written on the Berlin Wall, toured a Soviet nuclear bunker, haggled for a pocketwatch at a flea market in Budapest, taken a day-long train trip through Slovakia, climbed Mt. Vesuvius, collected sulfur samples from the world’s only privately-owned active volcano, eaten at the pizza place from Eat, Pray, Love, and had coffee inside the world’s oldest operational nuclear power plant.
I am intensely aware that I’ve seen more of the world in three months than most people will get to see in their entire lives, and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with all this accumulated experience. I’ve been devout about taking notes — I’ve recorded everything from the color of paint inside a reactor’s control room (seafoam green where it’s not white panels covered in cartoonish mockups of circuitry) to snack foods in Eastern Europe (stay away from a Hungarian candy called Zizi-Love, which are fruity puffed rice grains in neon candy coating — in spite of their charming appearance, they taste like cough syrup-flavored tootsie pops). My little grey notebook is running low on pages, and we’ve still got two more big trips to go.
I’ve gotten good at living out of suitcases, writing essays while in transit, rationing snacks and battery life, and recording everything as part of the process. I’ve even begun to learn the mysterious and previously unattainable art of napping on public transportation. It will be very weird, I suspect, trying to readjust to not constantly being on the move. Maybe then I’ll actually have a chance to start piecing together all the stuff I’ve written this semester into some larger coherent form — all those notes have got to lead somewhere. While I’m having the time of my life over here, I’m looking forward more and more to the downtime that will allow me to sort them out.