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Europe: Reformation Switzerland and Renaissance Italy
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Journal 1

Sept. 4, 2004

I am amazed I finally made it! I overcame my fears and survived the long, tiring, and uncomfortable trip and now sit in a sweet little room at Bienenburg. I've learned so much and noticed so much since we've been here (and even before we arrived). Right now as I write, I hear church bells rining, REAL church bells- not some computer generated version I hear only sometimes at home. I can just imagine that old, glorious church, its bells calling the faithful to prayer and worship.

Coming from my hometown of Bethlehem (which to me seems like a big city), I have noticed several distinctive differences. For one it is perfectly quiet here except for the birds, the wind and the still rain. No cars, no busy road behind my back yard, no dogs barking. Also, the streets seem very clean, not spotless, but clean, except for the graffiti on the train station walls. And speaking of train stations, I was so surprised by how comfortable the train was. Apparently, it's a good and reliable way to get around this place called Basel. Bicycles also seem to be used alot, along with a colorful and quirky collection of cute little cars. And of course, walking is always easy and reliable.
I was surprised because I was thinking that Basel was a big tourist place but I actually felt very conspicuous as I made clear in a number of ways that I was American, one of the "other" groups. At Bienenburg, I at first felt very isolated because of the language barrier. I realized how much I missed EMU and the comforts of "home". At dinner I watched other German students talking and I felt very lonely. But I later found those same students to be very warm and welcoming, even going out of their way to speak English. I felt guilty I don't speak German enough to give this gift of language interaction back to them But I am here to learn.

I'm excited to finally to be here in Basel. I know I will learn so much more and I feel I'm ready to face the challenges head on. But tonight, I think I'll face the not so hard challenge of anchoring down my bed, whispering a prayer in the silence, and treasuring every moment of this amazing adventure.

Thank you Lord. You truly do make all things possible.

-Alissa Wendland