Our summer in Europe is quickly coming to an end. It’s incredible how time passes so quickly. Before we left, seven weeks away felt like an eternity. Now that it’s quickly coming to a close, it feels like it happened in the blink of an eye (although some days felt like they lasted forever).
Michal and I are wrapping up our trip here in Poland. Last week we spent several days visiting Michal’s brother, Tomek, in Poznan (all the photos are from Poznan). Poznan is about four hours by train away from Koszalin. It’s a vibrant city full of history and bustling with people. Tomek introduced us to wonderful coffee shops and craft beers! I appreciated the fact that the English language was spoken and advertised. When we went places Michal or Tomek would start translating things for me and as soon as someone heard them speaking English, they would tell them to stop translating and speak to me fluently. It was a welcomed change from Koszalin. On a side note, if I actually learned Polish this would not be a problem for me…
During the past week and a half Michal and I have been quite social. We reunited with Michal’s cousin and several friends from London we met at his cousin’s wedding a few years ago. It was the first time I had been in a large group of English speakers in well over a month and I enjoyed every second of it. In Poznan Tomek took us to meet his friends and today we spent time with several friends from Michal’s high school days. I have appreciated every.single.person that I have met this summer and been able to communicate with especially those for whom English is a second language.
It’s really quite an interesting experience being in a country where you cannot speak or understand the language. I find myself more often than not being a quiet observer. I have found that even if I cannot understand what is being said, I can often pick up on the theme of and the emotion surrounding a conversation based on tone, body language, etc. Returning home and being able to understand the language and actually participate in conversations without needing a translator will be an adjustment.
Our long journey home begins Monday evening. We take a 3-hour long van ride and spend the night in Gdansk and fly back to the United States Tuesday. If everything goes as planned, we should arrive back at our home(!) after 18 hours or so of overseas travel.
Going home is always bittersweet. Travel changes you. Every time I go someplace new I am forced out of my comfort zone. This summer I have been in places and situations that would never happen in my day to day life. I am not the same person who left in July. Sometimes it is hard to figure out how to take who I am now and carry that forward as I return to the daily routines of work, household chores, etc. It’s quite a wonderful conflict to have. As always I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to spend the summer in Europe. At the same time, I’m ready to go home. I already have plane tickets for a family vacation in October and I’m sure within the next few weeks I will start planning our next adventure.