Veni. Vidi. Vici

Rome. A city rebuilt upon itself. Layer upon layer of ancient history, stacked on top of more ancient ruins. Not to be too stereotypically Italian, but it really is like a homemade lasagna with its layers of pasta, ricotta, and sauce, layered again and again over hundreds of years. Walking through Rome, it is so easy to just stumble upon old ruins. What I found to be most interesting was that some of those ruins didn’t even have a plaque explaining its significance. It is simply an uncovered piece of history laying between a few contemporary buildings. Its beauty was almost too much to comprehend. On our final day in Rome, my small group stopped to take a look around a church. On our walk back, Brittany said to me, “I love how we are just taking a casual stroll by the Colosseum.” She was so right! It almost becomes too easy to take all of this majestic history for granted after all that we have seen and done in the last 3.5 weeks.

As our time in Rome comes to a close, I realize how much I will miss this city. I will miss strolling through the ancient Forum where an entire civilization used to “hang”. I will miss making wishes in the Trevi Fountain. I will miss learning so much within the walls of Vatican City. I will miss standing outside Russell Crowe’s hotel, waiting for a gladiator sighting. But most importantly, I will miss our evening walks past the Pantheon headed straight for Giolitti’s.

More than missing Rome and the gelato, I will miss Europe as a whole. Traveling has allowed me to examine the American culture from a distance. I found plenty of differences between our culture versus the Europeans, some negative and some positive. One thing I certainly appreciate about the Europeans, especially Italians, is the way they take a nice long time to sit and enjoy their dinner. So often in America, we barely sit down to scarf down our food before we run off to our next task. Forget having time to converse with family or friends. The dinners of CR were one of my favorite parts of the day. They would often linger on for 2-3 hours. During this time, we would share with each other every aspect of our day and the interesting things we learned about the city and ourselves. I think Americans could learn a great lesson on the tradition of coming together at the end of the day and having great conversations over a meal.

But what I will miss most is not spending every waking minute with the CR familia. I could probably write an entire blog post over each individual on CR and how they impacted my experience and how much their friendship means to me. Writing this blog now, I am suddenly aware of how close we have all become. We could laugh, cry, or make the silliest jokes, all with full confidence that another person would be right there in the moment with us. While CR has come to a close, I am so eager to see what the future holds for CR10. But what is most exciting is that we still have three years together to strengthen our relationships and build on top of what we have started.

CR10… We came. We saw. We conquered.

Veni. Vidi. Vici.

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Dinner With Sam

So we just arrived in Interlaken, but I still have a ton to talk about with both Berlin and Munich. Here’s one of those things from the first city. So way back last week in Berlin, we had dinner one night with a tour guide from the UK names Sam. I had met sam before on Frog Camp, and he remembered me because of my stylish glasses. He didn’t remember Ryal though.

Anyways, we were enjoying our meal, asking intellectual questions, stuffing our mouths with schnitzel, and chugging still water. Sam was super interesting to talk to and had a ton of great insight into cultural differences in politics, religion, the whole nine yards. We all were enjoying his insights and wisdom, but there two questions I really wanted to ask him, and one quote we had to share with him.

So I just went for it.

“Okay Sam. So I know you drive on the left side of the road, but what side of the sidewalk do you walk on?”

He paused for a moment, and we finally stumped him. He didn’t really know. I had succeeded in intellectually challenging a European tour guide. After much thought and clarification about what I meant by that, he came to the conclusion that he naturally tended towards the left side of the sidewalk. He also explained that they started driving on the left side because it was safer for horse riders to be on the left side so they could protect themselves with their sword arm (their right arm) against threats on the road. I don’t buy it. I think they’re just wrong.

The next thing brought up was the American Revolution. I know I know, but we were just that comfortable with this guy. Plus Ryal brought it up, not me. Sam quickly responded with “oh yeah I’m so hurt by the fact that you guys one a wars 200 years ago that I had nothing to do with. Also how’s your health care?” Basically, he just started roasting the US, so I had to ask: what do are the stereotypes of US citizens in Europe? Here are the notes I took:

Loud

Loud

Loud

Enthusiastic

Badly dressed

Religious

Gun loving

I will admit, most of those are pretty true. You could here us coming towards the U-Bahn station from miles away – or should I say, kilometers away? He also explained to us how there is a difference between the type of people Americans root for, and the type of people Brits root for. Americans love the people who are good at things. We’re really quick to praise success and idolize the people who have done well, or who have been dealt a good hand in life, whereas British culture typically finds it hard to do that. They would much rather see the underdog come out on top than we would. While I don’t think either one is inherently more correct than the other, as the latter may bring up problems with perpetuating success and the former may cause exclusivity, that simple conversation revealed just how much people of different countries can learn from each other.