By Gabrielle Bynum
Over the past summer, I had the opportunity to travel to eight European countries in six weeks, and I can honestly say that it changed my life. Each country was so unique, yet so similar at the same time. Being able to submerge myself into the diverse cultures, languages and customs was an experience I will never forget.
Germany, for example, was such an interesting country, in my opinion. I had the chance to visit Berlin, a heavily populated yet historic city, and Munster, a traditional, smaller German town. Berlin was eye-opening because, although it has grown into such a large city, the history has not been forgotten. Walking along the streets, there is a line of bricks that indicate where the Berlin Wall once stood, an ever-present reminder of the hardships the citizens had once faced. I find this highly respectable and unique because, while the Berlin Wall is a tourist attraction, the trail of bricks that line the pavement are a relic for the everyday citizen. The city had a heaviness to it…a feeling I will always remember. Traveling just across the country to Munster, the atmosphere is much different. In Munster, I felt I had experienced the true culture of Germany. From the schnitzel to the German markets, this traditional town has not yet lost its customs to modernization.
Spain was a lively country full of energy, one of my favorites. In this country, I felt invigorated by the people of Barcelona and how they lived day by day, never losing that bit of zest in their lives. The culture, the food, the music of this city were exhilarating and couldn’t help but make you smile. It was truly astonishing to find how welcoming they were to Americans, and how many of them spoke basic English. I’ve found that many Americans assume foreign countries do not want or welcome them, but to my surprise, people from every country were overjoyed to learn about who I was and where I came from.
My travels have heightened my respect for the people of foreign countries. I feel that America has lost sight of some of the more important aspects of life, but the people I met from crossing borders gave me hope that the history, culture, and customs of our world have not yet been forgotten.
Thaddeus Phillips’ one-man show, 17 Border Crossings, comes to Wharton Center March 26. Click here for tickets, or call 1-800-WHARTON. Student tickets are only $18. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter for more updates about upcoming shows and what’s on at Wharton.
Gabrielle Bynum is a guest writer from Wharton Center’s Student Marketing Organization, where she serves as its Social Media Assistant.