It is important that, as you read the title to this post, you say it in a British accent. Initially, you will hear it in the accent of a (upper-middle aged?) British woman who carries a frog umbrella, speaking in reference to modernist works of art as you tour the museums of Paris, France. Next you will hear it from just over 20-some Midwestern college students, in reference to, well, everything. Even though most of my friends back at home don’t quite understand or fully appreciate my reference, I regularly say with gusto (in my awful interpretation of a British accent) “Do you like it?”
Well, as I began to plan my January term study abroad trip, I wasn’t sure how I was going to answer this question. The Modernist Moment, an English course to be taught by two professors from St. Kate’s University, was to follow the course of modernist writers such as Hemingway and Virginia Woolf through London, Paris, San Sebastian and Madrid. It was to be my second trip to Europe, and honestly I was pretty nervous. Not about the places, or the plane ride, but the people. Yes, my peers, classmates, those who would (in all honesty) make or break the trip for me.
London was a little tricky. We all had our own hotel rooms in a beautiful hotel just a block or so from the Russell Square tube stop. The weather was gorgeous, but then anything felt better than the negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit of Minnesota. We were free to explore with only a few hours of class everyday and the mandatory museum tour. The way people fell into ‘groups’ right away made it seem like our professors had yelled, “You have two days to find your new best friends/and or people who will put up with you. GO!” I wouldn’t say it was easy, but the way my ‘group’ fell together was just perfect. After a museum visit, a few of us decided that we didn’t want to walk back to the hotel and two others said they could navigate the tube, so we followed. (here is where you go ‘awwwhhh, the beginnings of a new friendship’…yes, I am corny) And basically, although our ‘navigators’ switched a few times, we kept on following, and at least on my part I began to absolutely love these adventurous, sarcastic, humorous, and “I’m going to throw that building at you. You are dead, I just shot you” violent people. Somehow, it just clicked, and that is a beautiful thing.
While I’m sure I’ll post more about my trip to Europe, I mean who can avoid such an amazingly-brag-worthy topic ;), it is vital to note that the people made the trip. Not everybody needs to have that bond to have an amazing time, but it made it worth every penny of the $money$ I spent. You can’t image how I miss those guys.
I write poetry (Stay with me! Just because I said poetry doesn’t mean I want to lose you!), and here is a poem I wrote about the trip:
Never closer until packed into three weeks
as strangers to Modernism, hotels and Hemingway;
to each other. Stumbling.
Wine. French in British accents,
the basic words keep popping up.
Jesus. The words we defined.
Forgetting what it looked like,
the heartbreaking landscape. The sand.
And I can’t spell it without your help.
(In the traveling world we defined.)
The fish served on a plate, eyes staring,
Sangria, scarves, tears. Strong, all of it.
So. Do you like it? Hopefully, as our guide would say, “Of course you like it.”