Just over three weeks ago I departed good ole GA and headed to Europe for the very first time. My trip began in Dublin, Ireland a day early but then it truly started once I arrived in Rome to meet up with Dr. Smalley, Dr. van Iersel, and the rest of the group. We immediately hit the ground running! Onto the bus we went and headed toward Pompeii, fifteen minutes to get your belongings to your hotel room and then back downstairs so we could begin! This was the pace for the following seventeen days.

We covered Pompeii, Nepals, and Rome all in the first three days. We were then given some free time before heading to Florence. After touring through Florence we were again awarded some free time. Then, it was on towards Paris. Four nights in Paris allowed for plenty of time to see all of the sights. Onward to Bath, Ashford, and London. A free day here and another one there. I really learned how to manage my time in order to see things that I wanted to see. Then we took a train to Edinburgh, Scotland. By far the spookiest, most interesting city I have ever seen. I enjoyed it the most, by far. Across Scotland and onto a ferry we went to cross the Irish Sea, bound for Belfast. One night there then Dublin it was. The trip was over almost as quickly as it had began.

In such a short amount of time I believe that I learned a little more about myself and a lot more about the world. I think that it is very easy to get caught in my day to day routine that I forget that there truly are other parts of the world. The people in Florence, Italy would still be carrying on with their daily lives even if I was not sitting on that bench in Florence watching them do so. However, seeing them allows me to gain perspective. The world is far larger than my chemistry exam, far larger than Athens, Georgia, and far larger than the United States.

Yes, what I do on a daily basis is going to directly impact my life (like passing that chemistry exam) but what about other things that I do? Will those actions indirectly impact the world? For example, that plastic bottle that I used and attempted to throw into the recycling bin, but it did not quite make it. I am in a hurry so I just leave it and assume that the next passerby will take care of it for me. When the fact is that the next person is in just as much of a hurry so they think nothing of it and it gets left behind. It gets carried away to a storm drain that takes it to a body of water that eventually empties into our global oceans. Which means that something in my life has now become able to affect someone else’s.

I believe that having this new perspective and knowing that at the end of the day I am not the big picture will help me to have a more positive attitude in my lifetime. We may not all agree, we may not all look the same, or speak the same language, but we all share the same home. A wise man once told me the things that bring us together and the things that push us apart are often one in the same. I believe he is correct. We all share similar interests in gardens, history, art, architecture, animals, food…culture. I believe that it is human nature to lean more toward separation. I also believe that we are in a world that is changing so rapidly and so drastically, for better or for worse, that we should aspire to find those commonalities rather than differences.