Dreaming with Your Eyes Open

SNC students return home from their travels around Europe



Jamie Wanzek   



For four months, home existed somewhere beyond the westward sunset, over the Mediterranean sea. It lay in my future horizon, a place separated by the Atlantic Ocean, somewhere dreaming. Home was carried in my footsteps, across bridges in Venice Italy, the Czech Republic and under Big Ben. Home was on my back while I rode camels into the Sahara Desert and while navigating German airports. Ho
me–; wherever comfort and love lies, unconventional or not is the greatest constitute of who we are,  a characteristic that we unknowingly carry with us, all across the globe. Home shapes our relationship with the world. They say travel far enough and you’ll discover it. Home.

For four months, uncomfortability served as a graceful amenity to my daily life. Surrounded by more buildings, stores and humans than trees and animals, I left anything resembling home, across the Atlantic Ocean. The air filling my lungs was Spanish, the Mediterranean Sea was my natural landscape, American culture (whatever that constitues), was commutated with a resolute country. The people of Spain, with olive skin, dark hair and eyes, represented passion. There was passion in their voices and their embraces with each other. There was passion reaching from King’s Palaces in Madrid to, Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces in Barcelona, down the coast to Alicante and all across the arid Andalusia region. I found ardor and beauty all across Spain.

I was told once by a local Spanish boy, “American’s always note their country as a mixing pot and frustration because they don’t have a solidified past and culture. In a sense, Spain is the same way.” A country with a complex past of Roman, Christian, Muslim rules, religion and eras, embed an understanding of human history into my education far beyond any textbook. Observing the ancient past of famous Arabic palaces, Cathedrals and Roman Castles gave insight into Spcamelsain’s most recent history- Francisco Franco’s dictatorship ending in 1975. But I believe, similar to America, Spain also finds frustration when looking to their past for a culture to grasp. We both are unique calico of religions and radical era’s that emit confusion- casting a light upon America I finally understand.

My largest motivation in moving to Spain was Language. I noticed the different barriers within learning a  language. While I am by no means fluent, language and the entire artistry that allows one another to communicate, is both simple and complex. At first, the experience felt more or less similar to the stages a newborn. My brain became a sponge absorbing every tiny chord, vibration and action happening around me. This became the first step in learning Spanish, what sounds like a meaningless sentence sang in Latin roots, is somehow meaningful and relevant with verbs and nouns. Although once, and only once you begin to associate those particular sounds, do they become words and phrases that you can keep in your pocket and allow authentic communication.

There were many moments over my experience in Europe when I thought, “Traveling is dreaming with your eyes open.” Every weekend I traveled to a new reach in Europe, the experience pushed me into whimsical trance. Moving our bones, seeing new places, allows us to defeat the mundane while stimulating our minds.  Every sight, every person and experience I met while visiting a new horizon was telling, it created a new perspective into the world and myself. From smelling the dust of Communism in the Czech Republic, admiring Romeo and Juliet’s balcony in Italy, glowing under the Palace of Westminster in London, the onset fear of terrorism and the Islamic State after the Paris attacks, to traveling across the Sahara Desert via camel, every experience revealed truth and remain timeless.

It has been over a month, and I have traced my footsteps back across the Atlantic Ocean. Returning home has revealed another adventure, as being abroad has brought new perspectives. For the first time in four months, the ground beneath my feet holds me strong. There is comfort coating every aspect of my life from the English language to snow on the mountains. As I  reflect on the past four months, I cannot help but feel as though it was nothing short of daydream, solidifying that traveling and dreaming serve the same purpose i
our lives.