When I signed up to tour Europe with the Nebraska Ambassadors of Music group, I anticipated that I would take some great pictures and make some wonderful friendships. Little did I know that by traveling thousands of miles away, I would acquire not only wisdom about other cultures, but also about myself.
Living from a suitcase and jumping from hotel to hotel, I quickly learned how little I needed to survive. Although my place of lodging in London was not equipped with a hairdryer, sufficient water pressure, locks on the bathroom door, or complimentary shampoos, I found that my adventure started when I embraced the unexpected differences from home.
By traveling through Paris, I mastered the art of patience- especially on the road. While weaving down a street connecting to the Champs-Elysees, my tour bus got plowed into by a Volkswagen. Also, when leaving the Louvre, the famous museum of art, my bus was randomly halted as thousands of roller skaters flew across its path. Later that evening the bus driver took my group down the gorgeous road paralleling the Seine for a scenic drive, but unfortunately, one of the farthest bridges we had to drive under stooped too low for the bus to fit, and we were forced to back up the whole way (creating a massive traffic jam).
I learned to cherish every moment, especially in the Alps of Crans-Monatana, Switzerland. Although fatigued, I woke at four o’clock one morning due to a chorus of thousands of songbirds in the valley. Despite the brisk air, I sat on the balcony of my chalet and absorbed the moment. Deep purple hues stained the sky as the sun came over a distant peak. I felt as if this sunrise was my own little piece of Switzerland- a souvenir that will never collect dust or deteriorate with time.
Everywhere my group toured we would put on a band, choir, and orchestra concert for the locals. Although many of our audiences spoke a different language than English, music proved to be the bond that linked us together.
As the trip came to the last few days, I discovered the pleasure of reflection. Leaning over the stone wall of the medieval town of Rothenburg, Germany and gazing at the hills beyond, I was inundated with thoughts and memories. I realized that although this view wasn’t of the bustling streets of Paris or the towering Alps of Switzerland, I loved it for a different reason; it reminded me of home.
Although clichÃ©, for all of my life up to that defining moment, I had lived with the notion that the grass was always greener on the other side. Now, by traveling to “the other side” and looking back, I can see that no matter how far I venture, how many photos I capture, or how many fun memories I make, most importantly I will always have a wonderful sentiment for my home in the states.
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