For a very long time, I nurtured the desire to travel, explore new places, encounter new cultures, dine on an assortment of cuisines and gain a unique connection with the diversity of nature. This desire to visit different countries of the world soon came to fruition in 2016 when I set out on an exploration journey of Europe. I had the premonition that Europe is such a unique continent not only for its cultural and racial diversity but also because it has some sense of historical supremacy for having been the sole region that host the colonial powers that conquered the rest of the world. Landing in the vast European continent through the Charles de Gaulle Airport, I was sure that my conception of the region was not only going to be exciting but also informative and insightful. I considered the trip to be my opportunity of a lifetime to test, confirm, and challenge my beliefs about the inhabitants. I had much theoretical information about the people, their cultures, political ideologies and economic activities hence this was not going to reframe my general view of Europe.
I arrived in France in the cold Christmas weather, and the city of Paris was just what many kinds of literature have depicted it to be; a fascinating city with well light streets, tall buildings with unique historical attachment. I reminisce with nostalgia the first drive through the canals of the city, seeing the great monuments and structures including the Notre Dame Cathedral. From the onset, I learned that city was one of the places in the world that hosts many historic buildings and monuments. The old, as well as modern architectural designs manifested in the constructions, provided a typical impression of how times have changed. The magnificent palaces and cathedrals not only provided a sense of reflection into the long history of European civilizations but also showed the incredibility of the past architects in developing unique designs using the limited techniques to create outstanding facades and interior decor in the buildings.
The streets of Paris, Vienna, London, Madrid, Barcelona, and Amsterdam through which I drove for the period I was in Europe had one unique commonality. They were ever busy with merchants moving from one railway station to the bus terminus and the airport the entire day and night. They reflected an ideal twenty four hour economy which testifies to the strong Eurozone. Shoppers and travelers on transit could quickly enter into fast food outlets, get their meals promptly served and continued with their journey devoid of unnceesary delays. The city of Manchester, Paris, and Rome provided me with a fascinating impression of cultural interactions through various live performances done by artists drawn from different parts of the world. It not only reminded me of the cultural complexity of the continent but also reflected the hospitality of the people. Everyone seemed to be busy pursuing their activities without expressing any form of discrimination whatsoever. In the Paris Opera house where entertainments were done live, I felt a closer attachment to the many cultural heritage that defines the population there.
On my first visit to Spain, it was amazing for someone to get a combo meal at Burger King. In fact, I had the feeling that the meal was cheaper than Diet Coke. I relaxed the differences in market prices of items in the different European markets. Though the countries were sharing the same currency of euro and forming part of the Eurozone, the cost of ordinary retail communities considerably varied. For instance, I could not buy anything in Switzerland since they seemed to be comparatively more expensive than they cost in the United Kingdom. On the other hand, movement in the many cities was simplified by the flexible, diverse, and technologically enhanced methods of paying the fare. In fact, even an ordinary citizen would find it very convenient to move to desired destinations without the limitations of distance. Train terminals lead to motor vehicle terminus which again proceeds to the airports. In Switzerland, horticultural crops such as flowers are thus quickly moved in refrigerated vehicles and train cabins. In fact, I felt the incredibility of nature during one of my visits to the open flowers show in Switzerland. The cold summer weather kept the different colored and scented flowers turgid, and it was just amazing to see how the floriculture industry performs so well in the country.
I could not end my experience of Europe without paying keen attention to the various cultural aspects of the people there. Actually, from what I witnessed on the continent, I would recommend it as an essential destination for a student interested in improving cultural competencies. The old and the young in Europe interacted so freely in open places without age restrictions. Conversations and exchange of pleasantries were characteristically short and casual which made me feel that the Europeans are ever busy with limited time to develop formal relationships with strangers. Despite the fact that they treated everyone with the utmost sense of hospitality, I loathed the casual nature of their interactions. In fact, sometimes I felt like I did not get the attention that I anticipated. One thing which also became clear is that the European's lack the sense of respect for titles. Children just referred to the old using one of their names such as Tom or Jeremy. Titles such as Mr., Dr. or Madam were uncommon. Whereas I thought that being a civilized society such titles would confer respect, I was wrong.
The Europeans with whom I interacted showed a unique sense of industry; they were ever busy doing something bit still they strictly scheduled their time to include leisure. During the weekends, I recall families gathering not only in entertainment places to watch videos but some also went out to swim in the sandy beaches, skiing and watching the beautiful natural scenery which showed their sincere regard for aesthetics, leisure, and natural heritage. In fact, it was uncommon to find people taking jobs on weekends since it offered a time for the families to reunite and thoroughly enjoy the presence of each other.
Ending my trip in Europe at Berlin, I had a moment of reflection on the infamous Berlin conference which culminated in the partition and colonization of various countries in the African continent. For once I felt the supremacy of the Europeans right from Britain to France for having conquered some of the resource-endowed nations of the world including the United States of America. The entire experience was expository and informative. I gained a comprehensive impression of the unique cultures, architectures, history, and economy of Europe. I was able to overcome some of the myths and misconception as well as build an informed idea of the Europeans.
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