JC, Outbound to Italy

Hello again, welcome to my final journal entry. I'll dive right in to the start of Eurotour; on the morning of the 10th of June I woke up earlier than normal and got on the metro to get to the meeting point for the tour, a Hotel a little outside Milan. For an hour or two, my district and the other two districts that went on Eurotour with us (Cremona Italy, and Romania) mingled and started to get to know each other better until we had a small orientation. Then we got on our massive double decker bus that somehow fit all 73 of us, and started heading to our first destination: Ginevra, Switzerland.

Sadly we only got to spend about thirty minutes there due to bad weather and the bus running a little late but it was still nice to see. Afterwards we headed to France to get to our hotel, because the next day we would head to Paris!

For the next two days we toured Paris, seeing things like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum, and yeah, I did see the Mona Lisa. After wrapping up with Paris, we headed to Brussels, Belgium for the next day.

We ended up staying in Brussels for two or three hours around lunch time and it was so incredible. I ate some genuine Belgian waffles and fries and even did some thrift shopping, then we got back in the bus and made our way to Holland.

We took a bike tour around Amsterdam and had a picnic half way through (It's also worth noting that up until this point the weather had been rainy, cloudy and cold the whole trip so it was a really welcome change of pace when the sun came out just in time for our picnic). Later in the day we took a boat tour around the canals of Amsterdam and then we went to the A'DAM tower and did a 5D movie as well as a swing that swings over the edge of the very top of the building!

The next and final stop for me and the other kids doing the first half of the tour was Berlin. It was a ten hour bus ride to Berlin from Amsterdam but that time goes by really quickly when you are spending it goofing around with friends on the bus.

In the morning we toured the city of Berlin and it's really incredible how evident the history is there. For lunch we all went to an awesome flea market. Afterwards we visited the concentration camp Sachsenhausen and the experience isn't something that words can express.

After Berlin I headed back to Milan and spent the week with my Italian friends and some exchange students that did half the tour like me or didn't do it at all. Once all the other kids got back from the rest of the tour I got to say one final goodbye to them all. The next day I said goodbye to my Italian friends. That was yesterday. Now I'm in New Jersey waiting for my flight back home writing this.

For most of exchange I felt like I wasn't really phased by the whole experience and I was kind of just along for the ride, but in the past few months things have come into a clearer light. You never truly know what you have until it's time to let it go right? Someone wise once compared life to a circle, and before exchange that circle was complete. Everything and everyone I needed was with me and only one place was my home. Now that circle won't ever be complete again, my world has opened up so much and I'll never have everything and everyone in one place again, and that won't change, I'll just have to learn to live with it. I've made some incredible friendships and met some truly wonderful people and I'm so glad that I've had this opportunity. I'll wrap this up with a few words in Italian.

Non è un anno in una vita, è una vita in un anno.

Thank you again to all the Rotary volunteers that made this possible and to everyone that has treated me with so much kindness this year.

Thank you, Grazie Mille, Arrivederci,

JC Redmond

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