My watch says it's 21:58 in Dublin, or 4:00pm back home in the Upper Midwest. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to change the date of my watch from the 21st to the 22nd, and I hope that won't cause a mistake later on in my travels.
Yesterday, I stepped onto a plane to Europe and became a sort of vagabond. For your convenience, I looked up the Merriam-Webster Online Definition to this excellent word (in its adjective form)-- it means "moving from place to place without a fixed home." And, to my ambivalence, this definition describes me more than ever before in my lifetime. I left my house in Vernon Hills, IL on Monday afternoon, it was for the very last time-- while I'm gone, my brother will graduate from VHHS (Congratulations, Phil, I'm so proud!) and my mother will move away. From now on, whenever I visit Vernon Hills, it will be only as a visitor, and to a large extent the same will be true whenever I visit each of my parents.
I guess as I've been re-evaluating where my most permanent home is, I'd say it's Decorah, Iowa, where I go to college. But for the next six months, I'll hardly be there either. (See! Vagabond!) Here's where I'll be instead, generally:
May 21st- June 1st: Choir tour in Ireland and England with the Luther College Nordic Choir
June 1st-June 18th: I fly solo from London (the end of the choir tour) to Budapest, Hungary. From there, I'll travel solo by train, visiting major cities, staying in hostels, making friends and seeing friends along the way, and having a great adventure! I've long dreamed of seeing the world, and pushing myself to explore, so it was impossible to pass up a perfect opportunity!) I'll arrive in Norway on June 18th.
June 18th-August 3rd: I've been selected for the annual summer "Peace Scholar" program in Norway! As part of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum (an annual peace conference hosted by five Norwegian liberal arts colleges in the Upper Midwest), I have the honor of representing Luther College at an all-expenses-paid seven-week academic program in Lillehammer and Oslo, where the nine other scholars and I will study peace and conflict, democracy, human rights, and Norway's relation to each of them. I am absolutely thrilled!
I'll be back in the states briefly to obtain my Indian visa, see family, et cetera, and then...
August 27th-December 9th: I'll be studying abroad in Jaipur, India, learning about sustainable development. I chose this field of study because I want to pursue a career of relieving poverty. I hope to learn how to empower so-called "developing countries" and communities to provide for themselves, and give them the basic tools and skills they will need to sustain their people and well-being in the long-run. Everyone on Earth deserves the basic necessities for survival, and they ought to have them without depending on foreign humanitarian aid.
In case I haven't made it clear, I'm incredibly excited, and I feel so fortunate. It overwhelms me to realize how completely serendipitous it is that the dates of the choir tour and the Norway program made it possible for me to plan such an epic adventure. Furthermore, I'm endlessly grateful for the generosity of benefactors who finance the Peace Scholar program and study-abroad scholarships, as well as the help of family members, and my ability to earn and save money through college work study. This is all too good to be true!
Anyway, thanks for sharing this with me. I was hoping to write about my first day in Dublin, but I need to get some sleep. One final word: if you have an idea of how to change the date on my watch, let me know! :p