David's Download - My feelings at the end of our first trip
At last, the end has finally come. Spain seemed so far away in the beginning,
but now we're almost ready to leave. I can't wait to get home and see my friends
and family, but I am also very excited about going to Australia and Asia.
It's hard to believe (even for me) that after traveling for 133 days away
from my friends and family that I would be anxious to travel more. It's funny
how a spark can start a fire.
Now that I'm looking back on the trip, I realize that we really had no trouble
at all. Sure we got a little homesick and on each other's nerves, but we soon
got over it. Being with my family now for four months straight has definitely
brought us closer together. We were forced to live and put up with each other,
which was occasionally too much to deal with. We never missed a flight or
had hotel trouble, and although we have been sick a couple of times it didn't
stop the Koppels! We followed itinerary very closely and never really had
a problem getting from one place to the other. We all had ups and downs, slumps
and peaks, but we still continued through our travels. We were all worried
about the hard stretch of our travels (Russia through Rome), although we all
greatly enjoyed the exciting adventures that we encountered. Parts of Russia,
the heat in Athens, and some sites in Rome were difficult, but we were rewarded
with Tuscany and Provence. It feels so good to be done and to look back at
everything we've done. I feel triumphant! I feel adventurous! I feel good!
I can't believe how much we have gotten out of this trip. We have learned
so much about Europe and its long history. Not only have we managed to learn
about each country we visit, but we have also kept up our Spanish, math and
writing skills thanks to our strict teacher (Mom). I have written over 15
long essays, studied 13 countries, learned 500 new vocabulary words and kept
up my algebra skills.
My Spanish is now also paying off. My sister and I order meals, ask directions,
buy things and also read sighs. My conversations with waiters, shop owners
and taxi drivers have not only helped me to remember my studies, but also
taught me some new words. It's really cool to be able to talk to someone in
a different language. It has also been difficult times. The Spanish speak
really fast, and I can only pick out a word or two. I also don't know enough
to be able to understand everything someone says, and sometimes I will just
blank out. But everyone seems to like it when I try to converse with them
in Spanish. They are always very patient, and compliment me. Although I'm
not perfect, they usually understand what I'm trying to say and appreciate
One of my favorite conversations was with a waiter in a small restaurant
a couple of days ago. I'm sure you have read about the pig. The waiter was
talking very fast and using complicated words, so it was hard for me to understand
him. I eventually got him to understand that we wanted two chickens and two
legs of pork, after he showed me the roasted pig on the counter. I felt very
proud when we got exactly what we wanted, but we didn't expect to get the
toes. We took the toes off as a souvenir and memory of this adventure.
Well, I have to admit that we didn't get quite exactly what we wanted. Mom
wanted some hot tea with her meal. She also likes a little milk with her tea.
I told the waiter she wanted "te con leche" (tea with milk). He
gave me a confused look then asked me something that I didn't understand.
I just nodded my head and said "Si." When he came back he had a
glass of hot milk with a tea bag in it! Oh well, at least we got the right
This trip has been a wonderful experience for me. It's so cool to look back
at everything we have accomplished. I am still amazed when I look back at
the journals and see everything we've done. Until next year, this is David