It was an unforgettable summer. I traveled to Europe with my siblings for eight weeks in 2008. During the Vietnam War my mom’s family fled to Hamburg, Germany so that is where I spent a majority of my vacation at. The first time I visited Europe I was only about seven years old so my memory was quite baffled. This time around, I promised myself that I would enjoy my vacation so much to the point where I couldn’t be able to forget my memories there.
For over eight years I did not have the opportunity to see my mom’s side of the family so I knew that it was time to make up for lost time. Before going to Europe I was very anxious about how I would be able to communicate with others since I did not understand the language. The very first day I began to explore the local neighborhoods in Hamburg, Germany I was at a shopping center and walked around like a noticeable tourist. As I passed local shoppers, I was greeted with a smile by about every single person. A simple gesture like a smile changed my perspective and gave me reassurance that I didn’t need to worry.
In America, I took advantage of mobile transportation and rarely walked anywhere. I hate to say it but I was far from being an active person. All of my relatives that lived in Germany relied on their own two feet to get to their destination including my grandparents who are healthier as ever because they are so dynamic. My definition of a fun day in America was going to the mall or the movies. I finally had the chance to go out of my comfort zone and experience new things.
One place I visited was the JapaneseGarden in Germany. Beautiful exotic flower plants surrounded the ponds and grass area. I’ve never been to a place that was so serene and calming. I also traveled to Berlin where I witnessed the East Berlin Wall still standing. My most memorable site seeing activity was when my uncle took my older sister, younger brother, and I to the St. Michaelis Church which is the biggest church in Hamburg. My uncle told us that we would have a great view of the city and harbor if we went to the very top of the spire. We had two choices, climb 50 flights of stairs or going on the elevator lift, we chose the stairs. We were all completely exhausted by the time we climbed half way through the flight of stairs. I felt so drained by the time I reached the top that I felt like I just wanted to sit down. Good thing I didn’t do because climbing 50 flights of stairs was definitely worth it. I took a peek at the view and I was flabbergasted. From the top of the church you could see the entire city, from the JapaneseGarden to the famous Port of Hamburg where there was a ship called Cap of San Diego! (I found that very ironic) I felt humbled that I was literally “on top of the world.”
My eight weeks in Europe was an eye opening experience that changed my perspective in life completely. I now am more active and choose to walk at times rather than driving a car. I am more adventurous and open to doing new things. Most importantly, I learned to just live my life to the fullest because you never know what may happen in life.
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