europe is rad: part 2

Hi my friends! Happy Thursday!

Tonight is the first night all week that the wind hasn’t been whipping around the entire city of Copenhagen as I sit down to do my homework. When I went to bed Monday night, it was a little eerie to hear outside my window, but I got to be snuggled up in my cozy home, so no problem there. But when I woke up Tuesday morning and the wind was whistling just as fiercely as the night before, I was impressed!!

Dinners with my host family each night have been a highlight of the semester so far. After classes and work and after-school sports, the five of us convene at the table to pass meat and potatoes and laughter and little snippets of our day along to one another. This daily nonnegotiable fellowship time around a table is something I didn’t know I was missing out on–both with my parents at our home in Wilmette and with my friends in Nashville. My sweet host family and I have broken bread over a range of topics that makes me grin–the lack of Lunchables in Europe, the word “scaffolding,” European impressions of JFK–a list I could keep writing for days.

It seems like ten different platters and pans and plates always end up on the dinner table every night. Our conversations are littered with doubled-over laughter due to words lost in translation or the impressive comedic timing of my 14-year-old host siblings.

I am so thankful for this world my family’s invited me into: a bustling, thriving home, full of love, complete with a variety pack of shoes at the front door and an apple tree in the backyard.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, because I stopped in the middle of our trip last week! Last time we talked, I was climbing every mountain and eating apple strudel in Salzburg! We took a bus and a train and another bus for a grand total of 11 traveling hours on Tuesday, and made it to Prague!

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Prague (called Praha in Czech, which Adeline liked to cackle “Prahahahaha”) is absolutely beautiful–and cheap too! I am thankful we were able to meet Ellen, one of our friends from Vanderbilt, after her classes ended for the day. She is studying in Prague this semester and seeing her again after so many months reminded me of the compassion, kindness and empathy she lets out into the world every day. Prague is so lucky to have her!! She showed us her flat and took us to a great Indian restaurant for dinner, and then we got to celebrate one of her flatmate’s birthdays after with brownies and a big heaping portion of laughter.

At one point when we were sitting in her flat, I looked around and counted that there were 10 girls in that living room, crowded around the food and each other and the joyful space we’d created together. It reminded me of my Mayfield common room, or really when any of my sweet friends from school can be together. That was such a happy piece of home, even though I hadn’t met 6 of these girls more than 30 minutes prior!

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In Prague we visited the Lennon wall and ate goulash and trdelniks (and $4 pizza!), but the trdelniks were the most memorable. They’re slabs of dough wrapped around a long roller, dipped with cinnamon sugar on the outside and shmeared with Nutella on the hollow inside. Yum and also sugar crash.

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Berlin was our last stop. It’s a giant city, not exactly my cup of tea, and all three of us were a little hangry after lots and lots of walking in Adeline’s quest for a burger for lunch. We finally found them, and then a sweet chocolate shop after–thanks for your great food, Berlin!

We also spent part of our afternoon walking along what’s left of the Berlin Wall. It was scary and moving to see where the wall had been broken through and where bullets had been shot through. None of us knew that the Wall hadn’t been torn down until 1990. For our millenial minds it is hard to comprehend that this historical event happened only five years before we were born: we were guessing World War I, or the 1960s, but not only 25 years ago. This is another place I don’t think I’ve completely processed yet, and I’ll be going to Auschwitz in November, so I want to save those thoughts for that space.

Very thankful for y’all and your continued texts and emails asking how I am doing and sharing your lives with me. This life is a gift–every day I am in awe!! I want to leave y’all with a quote I’ve been thinking about often this week:

The seasons change, and you change, but the Lord abides evermore the same, and the streams of his love are as deep, as broad, and as full as ever.

Charles Spurgeon wrote it in a devotional book called Morning & Evening, and I’m glad to remember these words he strung together in a time like living abroad, where life is adventurous but doesn’t ever feel quite settled–knowing that the Lord is where we are truly settled is helpful for me!

I love y’all!!

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