Onward and Upward (+ total mile count!!)

“Onward and upward.” A phrase I heard many times throughout our time in Europe. I heard it as we moved up the gondola system to the top of the Swiss Alps, as we huffed and puffed our way up a billion flights of stairs in Cinque Terre, and as we boarded a train to say goodbye to one city and greet another. Our onward travel would have been impossible without the help of Europe’s extensive transportation systems, including long-distance trains and city subways.

One of my favorite memories of CR happened on a subway in Munich. We had taken a night adventure out to see the soccer stadium all lit up bright and red, and we had to take a couple of trains to get back to our hotel afterwards. I’m still not sure if I was caught up in a conversation, not paying attention, or just being extra slow. All I know is that I suddenly realized that my whole group had boarded, and I had not. The doors began to beep and close, and I was coming to peace with the fact that I would soon be maneuvering my way back to the hotel solo. I lifted my hands to wave goodbye, laughing at the confused faces on the other side of the window, and I hear sweet Kate scream “NO.” Kate then proceeded to shove her body into the doors of the subway and pull me onto the car. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt while simultaneously tearing up at her act of selflessness. I felt so loved that she acted so quickly and bravely to make sure I didn’t get left behind.

I am even grateful for the moments of traveling in which we didn’t show our best sides. When we boarded the night train to Munich, we were a disaster. Our sixteen bodies and bags were crammed into a tiny hallway, we couldn’t figure out who was supposed to be staying in what car, and nobody (other passengers on the train included) could move around our group. We were a hot mess. The car of girls struggled to organize our luggage inside the tiny space, and we had to swallow our pride and go ask the boys to help us after we had impatiently told them that we had it handled. They were kind to us and quickly helped us get settled. I later overheard apologies being said among our group members for sharp comments that were made in the heat of the moment. I was reminded of how special our group is, and how we managed to love one another and show grace to each other even when tough situations confronted us.

Another thing that deserves major applause: our bodies!! According to my Apple watch, we logged a full 240.73 miles of walking over these past 3.5 weeks. Sure, the trains and subways were so helpful in our travel, but our bodies carried us through these cities and allowed us to see some crazy awesome things.

The song “Lost in My Mind” by The Head and the Heart came up on my playlist during my flight home. The song says “You’re already home where you feel loved.” I smiled thinking of how true that was in my life over these past few weeks. I was thousands of miles away from my home in Arkansas, but I was surrounded by people that made me feel so loved and cared for. As we rode the trains from one foreign country to another, I couldn’t have felt more at home than with this group.

Onward. There is so much life ahead of us, and so much more to be experienced during our time at TCU. Upward. I have no doubt that my fifteen peers will continue to amaze me with the things they accomplish in life. I cannot wait to see it all unfold. While it may not be via planes and trains, I can’t wait to trek through these next three years with you all. So, my friends, onward and upward.