Milestones. In Ancient Greece stones were set up at each mile as a way to mark paths so that travelers would know how far they had run. In modern times we have metaphorical milestones to show how far we've come. To acknowledge momentous moments in our lives.
I found this quote on a blog that I read daily, and it all makes perfect sense. With the end of our sixth week and the seventh and final one approaching, I've been doing a lot of personal reflection on what this experience has meant to me so far. That is, between field study visits and getting a head start on my final assessments. Looking back, it's safe to say that we have had a few big milestones in the last six weeks. From arriving and getting settled in Paris, learning to adjust to a new lifestyle, traveling and exploring on the weekends, moving to not just one but two different cities and starting over again, and now the inevitable final assessments, we've been pretty busy. Milestones are definitely something to celebrate, as they signify important events in our lives and celebrate our achievements. But, I cannot help but think that there is something else contributing to the entire experience.
In the six weeks that I have been abroad, I have come to appreciate the little moments that contributed to these milestones along the way. They're the moments that make our lives complete. Sometimes it may be easy to find these things and other times not so much, but their beauty and value add so much meaing to our lives, especially when we least expect it. Turning the corner and seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time. Eating an authentic Belgian waffle in the historic streets of Brussels. Sitting on the terrace of the IES Rome Center between classes on a rainy day eating gelato and admiring the architecture and beauty of the buildings around us. Buying a piece of street art from an artist in Florence who signed the work when I bought it from her. Taking silly pictures with my GoPro camera at the Palacio Real one day after a field study. Waiting three hours in line for the Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam. Or even just sitting in the living room of the apartment with my roommate, listening to music and watching Netflix in an attempt to do our homework. Looking back on the last six weeks, these little moments will stand out more to me than any of the pictures of beautiful places that I have put on social media. There is only so much you can see in a picture. A snapshot, frozen in time, that doesn't quite capture what was happening in that moment. In fact, so many of these moments happened when I did not have my camera out, creating a special and personal memory.
Yes, work is important, and after this I will get back to the journal composition that is due for my museums class tomorrow, but what is important is to make this last week the best one yet and appreciate every second because it is astonishing how short a time it can take for very wonderful things to happen.